Cameron Sollas from West Kelowna was one of several artists in the first ever ReImagine Art Festival. Artists will be working on murals on Friday and Saturday this weekend in the downtown core.

Cameron Sollas from West Kelowna was one of several artists in the first ever ReImagine Art Festival. Artists will be working on murals on Friday and Saturday this weekend in the downtown core.

Taking art to the streets

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and for some that is the logic developing around street art and graffiti.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and for some that is the logic developing around street art and graffiti.

While it may be perceived as a nuisance, more often these days it is being taken for what it is — art. This weekend the Downtown Penticton Association hopes to open some eyes to that notion. Starting Friday, artists will rejuvenate the alleyways and exterior walls downtown in the third annual ReImagine Art Festival.

“Some people think street art is a negative thing to see, but in my opinion it isn’t. It can be a positive thing, it depends on how you look at it,” said Keremeos artist Jamie Cross, who will be painting on the Morpheus Graphics sponsored wall this weekend. “Penticton could be a great place for street art if we want it to be, but people on both sides of the argument have to come together and make compromises. I suppose that is what the Downtown Penticton Association are trying to do by bringing that fresh opinion on it.”

But it’s not a new debate, Cross reminded. Graffiti started picking up steam in the ‘70s and more recently has pushed to the mainstream with pseudonymous artists like the U.K.’s Banksy and the Academy Award nominated documentary (criticized by some to actually be a mockumentary) Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Cross, who less than a year ago was living in the hustle and bustle of the U.K. as a tattoo artist and piercer, now is a garlic farmer in Keremeos having moved to the area with his wife who is a Canadian. In the U.K., Cross was very much a part of the graffiti sub-culture. He goes by the tag name Zafe, and formed a group with veteran graffiti writers to promote the positive aspects of the art.

“We had progressed from criminal activity of graffiti into street art. We formed the group and started to work with the local council, police force, schools, colleges to make a little money out of it and push the more positive image of street art to make it more acceptable,” said Cross.

The artist said although he isn’t a fan of what Banksy has done, it has changed public perception of street art to a large degree. Banksy’s pieces that are for sale have been bringing in serious money.

“If galleries are making money off of it, the public generally buys into it. All of a sudden it’s art and it has an inherent value. What Banksy was doing wasn’t considered art for a long time,” said Cross. “Globally the idea of graffiti is changing. I think a lot more people are accepting the kind of aesthetic beauty of it. The debate of is it art of isn’t it art doesn’t even really matter if people like it. Generally we line up a space that is normally grey and the public will see it as being better than what was there.”

With two sketch books constantly within arm’s reach, Cross said he had been developing his technique by working on and creating new fonts for years. His process to create a mural starts with rough sketches, but he struggles to put the process into words. Mainly Cross’s goal is to develop something aesthetically pleasing and the reactions he gets from people who stop to watch is all part of his creative development.

“What makes it unique to any other art form in the world is that once you finish a piece and you walk away from it, it’s gone. Someone could come the next day and paint over it. In that respect it has no monetary value. There is a lot of corruption in the art world where it is all about money as opposed to being about art. To me, why I enjoy it, I put the work up and walk away from it. It sounds funny, but it’s like the people in those spaces inherit the work after I am done. It stops being mine and more theirs. I like that element of it,” said Cross.

From noon to dusk on Friday, muralists will start working on their creations in the downtown core. Maps can be picked up from the Downtown Penticton Association office so the public may explore and watch the artists work. On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the artists will put finishing touches on their murals and then judging begins. Awards will be handed out at Cue’s Restaurant starting at 5:30 p.m. in the categories of mural style, classic street art and artist’s choice.

“I think the festival is getting a real reputation for these great murals in the back alleys. A lot of the kids who tag have great artistic talent behind them and just need an outlet to do it. I think it’s also a fantastic opportunity for the public to see how the creative process evolves,” said Riley Gettens, marketing director for the DPA.

For more info on ReImagine Art Festival or the Downtown Penticton Association visit www.downtownpenticton.org.

Just Posted

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver will golf from sunrise to sunset to raise funds for ALS on June 29. (Submitted)
Golfing from sunrise to sunset in Oliver for ALS

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club have taken up the challenge June 29

Jann Arden will embark on Canada-wide tour Spring 2022 with a stop in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on June 13. (Contributed)
Jann Arden coming to Penticton in 2022

The Jann Arden Live! tour has been rescheduled for 2022

A storm watch has been issued for the Okanagan, Kootenays and Columbia regions of B.C. (Calvin Dickson photo)
Another severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for thunderstorms that may produce strong wind gusts, hail and heavy rain

The South Okanagan Tim Hortons raised over $4,000 through the three day orange doughnut promotion with 100 per cent of proceeds going to to the Residential School Survivors Society. The owner of these locations matched the amount. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
South Okanagan Tim Hortons raises over $8K for residential school survivors

More than $4,000 worth of doughnuts were purchased over three days

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read