For the last decade I’ve had an eye on the street art scene in Vancouver. Over the last few years, residents will have seen the explosion of vibrant, diverse street art decorating downtown Vancouver, East Van and of course Main Street. Instagram worthy color-pallets provide an interesting juxtaposition between alleyways and brick walls, adding to the many personalities that decorate one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As it gravitates towards comic-style due to the medium and colours used, it always drew my eye.
A pilgrimage to Main Street
Living abroad, I try to make a point when I am back in the city to see what has changed. The changing and growing urban art can be helpfully tracked here. Each summer over the last four years there has been new pieces of art making a cool part of town even more interesting. This isn’t illicit tagging, some of which can be really gorgeous too, but what is making Vancouver’s alleyways more welcoming is this ‘neo-grafitti’.
“Street art is visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. Other terms for this type of art include independent public art, post-graffiti, and neo-graffiti, and is closely related to guerrilla art.”Wikipedia definition on ‘street art’
Walking the Seawall & Main Street
These recent additions to the urban landscape in Vancouver’s Mural Festival would certainly fall into the ‘neo-grafitti’. The city’s cultural invigoration campaign has taken shape on the walls of restaurants, coffee shops, and corporate buildings have become glorious canvases hosting local artwork.
Main street Mermaids
One amusing recurring theme on Main Street is Mermaids and fantastical undersea creatures. Painted on the sides of industrial buildings, old bars and delivery doors,these aren’t your Disney mermaids!
Graffiti Alley, Downtown
Graffiti Alley contains a montage of great art through history and movements, with a collective of artists, Cold World Media, that continue to evolve in the alleyway that feeds into Richards street near Harbour Centre. Started in 2005, this mural spans an enormous length on both sides of the alley. This homage to the highest art and artists was a little beacon of beauty done in a spray paint, an art form now elevated with ever increasing appreciation.
The stratigraphy of art on the brick surfaces all over the city is a kind of archaeology of Vancouver’s urban art. With increasing interest in displaying the personality of each neighborhood community, this civic art showcases local talent through elegant, absurdist and abstract art. Each layer, from one year to the next, there are new murals and older ones slowly are covered with new art. This has become the fate of this homage to artists, much of it is no longer visible.
Vancouver’s painted alleys were part of my art exploration in my twenties, my engagement photoshoot and annual wanderings when back home. I can’t encourage people enough to go wander the streets and explore, and take in all that incredible beauty!