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Kelowna's mayor questions francophone mural plan
The francophone community will have the opportunity to educate Mayor Walter Gray on its place in Kelowna through a series of murals.
On Monday, council approved a $7,500 expenditure to back a public art project at the French Cultural Centre on the corner of Bernard Avenue and Richter Street.
Six murals will be developed by artist Henri Brazeau, who will lead a community discussion to determine what’s depicted.
“It’s a hands-on exercise to talk about the role of the francophone in the community,” said Pat McCormick, the public servant presenting the project to council. “Mr. Brazeau will execute the themes and concepts coming out of community discussion…Broadly speaking, it will be a contemporary and historical view of the francophone experience.”
Brazeau is a past direct of the French Cultural Society, who has volunteered extensively throughout the community, including serving on several local business boards of directors and for the Big Brothers of Canada. A semi-retired therapist by trade, he is both a musician and painter, who was recently commissioned to complete an oil canvas for Montreceux Castle in Sussex, England. He has completed murals for the City of Cloverday, the Clover Valley Music Society Festival and the Coca Cola company, but nonetheless Gray seemed somewhat taken aback by the control the artist would wield.
“We’re entrusting one individual to do the whole thing?” he asked. “…Don’t we have any: ‘Wow. Hang on now. That’s inappropriate’ mechanism?”
Gray explained he could see one mural would likely be of Father Pandosy—the pioneering Catholic priest who settled in the Mission, establishing orchards, the first vineyard and spreading Christianity—but beyond that, he had no idea what the other five murals might contain.
McCormick assured Gray he will see the suggestions before they go out to the public, but noted the French Cultural Centre is paying more than 50 per cent of the bill. McCormick acknowledged the centre sits in an important position, at the entrance to Bernard Avenue, and that the city is currently redeveloping the street. As such, he assured council, he would receive regular updates throughout the process and would know in advance exactly what the francophone community wanted to illustrate.