The dull wall of the abandoned “bunker” structure that faces Northwest Boulevard got a much-needed face-lift this week, thanks to a Creston artist and two Calgary painters.
The marsh landscape mural that now spans the structure’s wall was designed and brought to life by Calgary’s Daniel J. Kirk and Lane Shordee, who sought to honour the Creston Valley’s original terrain.
The two came into town on Aug. 4 and completed the mural only a few days later.
Calgary artists Daniel J. Kirk (foreground) and Lane Shordee (background) began been painting a mural along the wall of the abandoned building off Northwest Boulevard since Aug. 4. (Aaron Hemens – Creston Valley Advance)
“When we were researching about Creston, we learned that at one time, this used to be a lot of marshlands,” said Shordee. “That started the design process of creating this grass scene over a valley covered in water. On both ends, it’s book-ended by the valley curves.”
Kird said that the giant, green curve that swoops in from one end of the wall and travels through the middle of the dense grass symbolizes the movement of a sturgeon-nosed canoe — also known as a Kootenay Canoe.
“That was the main form of transport. There’s the main highway now, so we wanted to represent a memory of this place,” said Kirk. “The marshland, the Indigenous People in the area before colonization would have used those canoes to travel through this area.”
How the mural came to be
The two were commissioned to paint the mural by Creston artist Marnie Temple, who had previously met Kirk at a Calgary mural festival.
It was in February when Temple, a member of the Tilted Brick Gallery, said that she had envisioned a mural on the bunker wall.
“Before writing Regional District of the Central Kootenay (RDCK) grants, I got Tanya Wall, the RDCK Area B Director involved in this. I thought if I could get permission from Michael Chaplin, who owns the structure, then that would be a great place to start with this grant writing,” said Temple.
A grant for $5,000 for the mural arrived from the regional district at the end of June. However, she said that getting Chaplin to actually agree to the idea was no easy task.
“He was interested in it, but he was concerned about the structural integrity of the bunker,” she said. “He didn’t want us sealing it with paint in case it would affect its structural integrity.”
Temple attended two council meetings in July to present the mural, and while the idea was welcomed by council members, she said that Chaplin still wasn’t on board.
It wasn’t until after Mayor Ron Toyota stepped in and had a word with Chaplin when Temple got the green light for the mural on July 29.
“Michael and I had some texts, and I reassured him that the community wanted it. It would be a good thing,” said Toyota. “There would be no issues with liability. He came back and said it’s good to go.”
As for the mural itself, Toyota described it as “refreshing” and called it a “definite improvement.”
Shordee said that bringing colours and liveliness to abandoned spaces is what he and Kirk do.
“We paint walls that seem to be unused, and this one is a great opportunity to take something that people don’t like and turn it into something they do,” he said.
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