Okanagan artists juggle painting in the streets

Artists tackle brightening up Downtown Penticton at Reimagine Art Festival.

Sarah Fahey and Jan Little touch up their contribution to the 2012 Reimagine Art Festival. Their canvas was the back wall of the Skaha Sound building on Nanaimo Avenue.

Sarah Fahey and Jan Little touch up their contribution to the 2012 Reimagine Art Festival. Their canvas was the back wall of the Skaha Sound building on Nanaimo Avenue.

Sarah Fahey and Jan Little wanted to make an impact on the community by brightening up Downtown Penticton. On Saturday they did just that during the Reimagine Art Festival

“I feel like I want to see as much of the city as possible with lots of colour and reflecting what we do here in all different parts of the community,” said Fahey.

Together the artists painted one of 15 new murals, some quite noticeable as you make your way down Main Street while others are tucked away in the back alleys for people to explore. Fahey and Little’s Stilt Jugglers, located on the wall of Skaha Sound, took first place in the mural division. It is the duo’s second win in this category in as many years.

“I knew I wanted to do a background of a city, but because of the material we were working on it sort of comes as it comes. The inspiration came from a photo I had taken of jugglers at the Penticton Farmers Market and they were actually people who were picking fruit in the area and the piece was to celebrate the people who come through in the summertime and what they add to the community during that time,” said Fahey of the winning mural.

The artists came up with the concept together, each put their sketches together and came up with Stilt Jugglers. Taltal Levi finished second in the mural category with his piece Owl at Unique Captures and Kendra Chappel got third place with SS Sicamous Paddle Wheel at Willow Midwifes wall. In the street art category Todd MacCormac took first with his mural titled Penticton at Unique Captures and he won the artists’ choice award. Finishing second in the street art category was the trio of Jeremy Daury, Daniel Nazareno and James Knight for their mural Classic Street Art found on the Royal LePage Locations Realty West building, and Cameron Sollows won third for Kasp at the Best Damn Sports Bar.

Working amongst the public last Friday and Saturday challenged their focus on the task at hand, but the spinoffs for some of the artists participating resulted in the possibility of more work in the future. Fahey said at least three people approached them and she knew other artists who were approached as well.

It is not the first time she has worked on such a giant scale. She also completed a mural on the Ellis Street fence with the Penticton Agricultural Association, worked with high school students on a 50-foot mural and did another at Parkway School with Grade 5 students. Her work can also be found at M Gallery in Penticton. Her cohort, Little, has pieces at the Tumbleweed Gallery. Little also is a featured artist at the 8 Refreshing Flavours exhibition on Oct. 4 from 4 to 9 p.m. Tumbleweed Gallery, Saint-Germain Gallery and Ad Hock Clothing are hosting open houses to show off pieces of local artists’ work.

Barb Haynes, president of the Downtown Penticton Association, said the artists really stepped up this year for Reimagine Art Festival.

“It is also great that businesses are allowing the artists the freedom to share their vision and give them the canvas to do it. There is a whole lot of faith of what is going to occur on your building. As often happens, several businesses have come to us now and want to be part of it next year,” said Haynes.

Haynes said the murals bring the added benefit of respect of the artwork and respect to property. She notices that the murals have cut down on tagging and graffiti on those walls. The brightening of the downtown core also brings more people to the area.

The Downtown Penticton Association said they handed out several hundred maps to where the artists were posted on Saturday at the farmers market and many took advantage of walking the streets to view the artists at work.

“It is great for people to have that opportunity to see what the artists are doing because they are so enormously talented,” said Haynes.