The woman behind the brush for all but one of Vernon’s historic downtown murals loves that the city is spending $100,000 to fix them up.
Vernon artist Michelle Loughery led a multi-year collaborative effort, which included youth artists, to create the murals, of which there are 28 in total. All but one was led by Loughery and that one – the only winter mural celebrating the history and success of the Sovereign Lake Nordic – was led by one of her students, Tyler Toews.
City council unanimously agreed at its Nov. 14 regular meeting to spend $100,000 from its mural maintenance reserve fund to touch up 24 of the 28 murals, which need serious repairs.
“As a community project that so many helped, donated and brought a downtown to life, this is a good thing,” said Loughery on social media of the city’s decision.
“Repairing the legacy and telling the stories of the project that connected so many is a wonderful thing.”
Newly hired city manager of building service Brian Story told council that based on a completed assessment, many of the murals require “significant repair and rehabilitation.”
No maintenance on the murals has been done in years, said Story.
Loughery said the mural project was a catalyst for many others around the world, and a model that innovated and raised almost $6 million for a downtown revitalization.
“Many opportunities can come from repairing the legacy while providing opportunities for new art,” said Loughery. “These murals have worked hard.
“Thanks to all for keeping an innovation of community art alive.”
Loughery said behind every brush stroke on the murals, there is a “story of a youth, a senior, a non-profit, a supporter, a donator, a business owner or a child in awe of the (murals’) stories.”
“These walls have taught historical stories, sheltered marginalized youth, gathered street stories and brought so many together,” she said.
Loughery would like to see a documentary about the power of paint to “change social inclusion paths.”
The Downtown Vernon Association is arranging to have the repairs completed in 2023 and 2024. The estimated cost of repairing 24 murals is about $91,000 with a 10 per cent contingency pot of $9,100 also included. The funds will come from the city’s mural maintenance reserve, which has $107,000.
The Downtown Vernon Association and city have been contributing $5,000 yearly to the reserve