Oliver mural project aims to draw people downtown

After just one month on the project, a group of artists are set to unveil a series of mural boards they have created to spruce up downtown Oliver.

After just one month on the project, a group of artists are set to unveil a series of mural boards they have created to spruce up downtown Oliver.

“I’m absolutely stunned at how well and how quickly this came together,” said Laurena Weninger, project co-ordinator working on behalf of the town. “It speaks volumes about the artists, and I hope lots of people come out Saturday to see their work.”

Weninger, who owns Oliver’s Write this Down Freelancing, was hired by the town on a part-time contract basis for the months of January and February. Her mandate included finding a way to decorate vacant storefront windows in the downtown core — and local Communities in Bloom co-ordinator Betty Lou Trimmer planted the seed that led to the solution.

“Betty Lou suggested we get the Oliver Sagebrushers involved,” Weninger said, referring to a group of local artists. “I called Sally Franks, one of the artists, and she immediately took action.”

Weninger said she and Franks measured the vacant windows in late January, and Franks rounded up and met with the volunteer painters — Leza Macdonald, Marilyn Marsel, Marion Trimble, Leann Parrent and Linda Blaschuk — to drum up ideas.

Five scenes were chosen, based on photographs the volunteers took from around the Oliver area. These vibrant murals, painted on two-foot-by-four-foot panels designed to work as companion pieces, include orchards, antelope brush and vineyards, along with well-known landmarks like McIntyre Bluff and historic Haynes Ranch.

Supplies for the project were bought locally, at a discount, from Southside Builders, Alberto’s Decorating Centre and Lauralee’s Treasure Cellar. Costs are being covered in part by a small budget provided by the town, and in part by donation from the Oliver Business Association who will take ownership of the mural boards. In the future, the boards will be displayed on an as-needed basis by any Main Street business.

The project has drummed up significant attention from other groups interested in adding to the culture of downtown Oliver. 

“Arts and culture obviously involves more than just painters,” said Weninger. “We have been contacted by others, and maybe down the road there will be room to establish a substantial arts and cultural component in Oliver’s downtown.”

The mural boards will be unveiled on Saturday at 10 a.m. on Oliver’s Main Street, at the vacant store next to the CIBC. For more information, call Weninger at 250-498-1713 or email okwriter@eastlink.ca.