Claire Fripp, owner of Fripp Warehousing stands with Mayor Colin Basran and artist Eric Blais as the unveiling of a Kelowna-themed mural of Kelowna, Wednesday, June 21 at Fripp Warehousing. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Artist blends love of hockey and painting

Eric Blais unveiled his mural on the side of Fripp Warehousing in Kelowna, Wednesday

Artist Eric Blais blended his love of hockey and artistry with his latest project.

One of B.C.’s largest murals was unveiled on the side of Fripp Warehousing, Wednesday, June 21 showcasing images from Kelowna.

The project started three years ago, with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association.

Owner of the Fripp Warehousing, Claire Fripp was looking for someone with artistic talent to create the mural, which can be seen from Crowley Avenue.

She didn’t know Blais, who coaches hockey in the association, was also a painter.

“I used to coach the midget tier 1 here in town and the sponsor was Fripp Warehousing, so I got to know Claire,” said Blais.

The pair put out a contest, selecting three ideas from the minor hockey kids to come up with an image of Kelowna.

The three ideas selected were the Ogopogo, the Kettle Valley Trail and the Rockets winning the 2004 memorial cup.

The mural is more than 200 feet long and Blais is now working on phase two of the project on the south side of the building.

“It’s an expression of freedom. It’s so liberating to paint large so I work a lot in graphics and on a computer too, this is just another way to do it,” said Blais.

“We used the ideas (the kids decided). It’s supposed to be the history of Kelowna and what Kelowna means to them.”

Fripp originally wanted to do something small, but it morphed into the mural it is today.

“It just changed and tweaked and at one point it was missing peaches so there they are over there,” she pointed. “And my son sails so we had to add sails… It just got out of hand, but nicely out of hand.”

Mayor Colin Basran cut the ribbon in the official unveiling Wednesday, June 21.