A temporary mural designed in part to promote Sidney through social media won’t be popping up after all after councillors reversed their support.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith joined Couns. Barbara Fallot, Terri O’Keeffe and Scott Garnett in opposing plans for a temporary public mural on the side of a building in the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue that the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society (SBIA) was planning as part of the inaugural art walk.
Couns. Sara Duncan, Chad Rintoul and Peter Wainwright confirmed their earlier votes in favour of the installation, cast when the proposal first appeared before councillors earlier this month.
Council’s reversal responds in part to concerns from resident Jon Blair, who wrote a letter criticizing the creation as being out of character.
“It is merely another sign, adding nothing to its surroundings,” he said. “An absurd sign that makes no sense, as the viewer of the message ‘See You in Sidney-By-The-Sea’ is already in Sidney.”
Perhaps the most vocal critic was O’Keeffe, who also raised concerns when the plan first appeared before council.
O’Keeffee questioned the quality of the mural as well as familiarity of the artist – Vancouver-based mural artist Jocelyn Wong working under the moniker Something Yellow Studio – with Sidney. She also questioned the message behind the mural, the society’s failure to hire a local artist and the urgency.
“I would suggest to the SBIA that if they want the community to support local businesses, they should also be supporting local and invest a bit more time to do the right thing,” she said. “I would urge them … to come up with something a bit more attractive for our town.”
Rintoul said he read the intention behind the mural to be a giant photo wall. “We are not talking about a permanent installation,” he said. He also questioned artistic criticisms. “It’s very colourful,” he said, adding the SBIA was timing the mural with spring. Duncan, meanwhile, pointed out that the SBIA — not the municipality — had commissioned the piece, adding that the piece is not appearing in a public park. It is also up to the SBIA — not the municipality — to decide whether the message of the mural makes sense.
Council did not close the door on the idea. McNeil-Smith said he hopes council could soon come to a consensus.
Speaking before Monday’s vote, Morgan Shaw, SBIA’s executive director, said the intent of the mural was to send a signal of optimism and generate some attention.
“Really, we are just looking to do something for the community for spring, bring a little bit of colour and celebrate getting into warmer months and the optimism ahead,” she said.
The mural with its phrase ‘See you soon in Sidney by the Sea’ was to be a twist on the classical ‘Wish You Were Here Postcard’ postcard.
“It is a nod to the feeling that the end is in sight and the hope that we will see each other again soon,” reads the society’s proposal to council. “The imagery of the artwork will feature elements of the Sidney coastline and florals and grasses to ensure demonstration of Sidney’s character and connection to being a seaside community.”
Shaw acknowledged Blair’s letter, but feels he may have missed the mark.
“So it isn’t the same format as our other beautiful murals through Sidney. It’s supposed to be fun, lively, temporary.”
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