An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEWEST MURAL in downtown Kamloops?
I got a look at it and I’m not impressed. In the past, I’ve been critical of a lot of public art, and complimentary to quite a bit as well. In general, public art is a good thing but the mural program is turning into a mish mash.
Pictured in the new mural just off Seymour Street is the face of a man with a missing eyeball, and it’s not a pretty sight.
The artists, who have created a couple of other, really good, murals in the downtown area, have been quoted as saying it’s about communicating without words.
I love the way artists come up with this stuff. I defy anyone to look at this one-eyed face and figure out what the message or purpose of it is.
Art of any kind is great for stimulating debate. Is it art, is it not? What does it mean? Is it derivative of the modernist genre, etc. etc.
However, the mural program has lost all semblance of theme or consistency. Diversity of styles is good but shouldn’t there at least be some sense of purpose, such as saying something about Kamloops — its lifestyle, its demographics or its history, for example? Would “uplifting” be too stringent a criterion?
Some of the murals meet those tests but this one looks like something out of a scary movie.
The artists aren’t to blame — somebody has to approve this stuff. A City bylaw sets out a process for murals, whether on public or private property. There are minimum standards, and forms to fill out.
On this one, the program stewards dropped the ball. Time to give the mural program itself a thorough once-over.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.