Vancouver’s downtown murals and artlet get their final touches


New 30-foot tall mural is installed on parking structure on 12th and Main

VANCOUVER — Jane Degenhardt has been sharing her artwork with the world for a lifetime. Her latest creation, a painting of a black berry bramble in fall, now stands 30-feet high in downtown Vancouver; a key part of the 12th and Main Artlet.  

Jane Degenhardt stands in front of her newly installed mural at Main Place in downtown Vancouver. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Jane Degenhardt stands in front of her newly installed mural at Main Place in downtown Vancouver. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Thanks to $20,000 in grant money from the city of Vancouver’s Culture, Arts and Heritage program, Vancouver’s Downtown Association (VDA) commissioned the “Bramble’’ mural on the parking structure adjacent to the Main Place building.

“I photograph all the time out in nature, and this is a photograph that I took a close range of a blackberry Bramble,” Degenhardt said of her mural. “I photograph mostly at this time of year when the lifecycle is most apparent visually. So you’ll see things transforming from full life to part of it dying off. There’s something compelling about that process to me visually. Somehow there gets to be a visceral quality infused in them in the process of the painting. So it kind of speaks of the human connection to the natural world.”

Degenhardt originally painted “Bramble’’ on a small canvas, but with the help of photoshop was able to translate it to be printed on large pieces of vinyl and assembled on the concrete wall.

The 30-foot mural, entitled “Bramble,’’ is printed on vinyl and attached to the concrete with metal. Photo by Jacob Granneman
The 30-foot mural, entitled “Bramble,’’ is printed on vinyl and attached to the concrete with metal. Photo by Jacob Granneman

The original artist slated to do the mural was unable to travel to Vancouver earlier this year due to the pandemic. VDA Executive Director Michael Walker coordinated with the Mural Society who then tapped Degenhardt to select a piece from her collection.

The component, which now makes the mural so different from others in the city and elsewhere, is that it is not painted on but printed and secured via metal to the concrete. This method was done for a variety of reasons, Walker said, but has the side benefit of possibly lasting longer. 

“Our inspiration for using panels was really due to a time constraint and the restrictions due to actually painting a mural on a wall of this size,” Walker said. “There’s OSHA restrictions and things that we had to consider. And just due purely to the timeline of the project and having to spend our grant within this calendar year, panels made the most sense for this application.” 

Workers install VDA’s artistic bike racks at one of their two locations downtown; one also features a parklet. Photo courtesy of VDA
Workers install VDA’s artistic bike racks at one of their two locations downtown; one also features a parklet. Photo courtesy of VDA

In addition to the mural, several other smaller murals were painted on the parking structure, and two large street murals have been completed as well. The bigger of the two sits just up the road from “Bramble’’ at 12th and Main Street and features artistic bike racks and a parklet. 

Walker explained that the culmination of all the new pieces of artwork comprise the artlet project, which hopes to bring more recognizable elements to the city and enhance the aesthetic. 

“What I think is really exciting about this project in particular is this south garage wall is quite prominent on our Main street heading up north,” Walker said. “So you can kind of consider it an Eiffel Tower of Vancouver in the way that it really adds to the placemaking component that we hope to accomplish on this project.”

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