Controversial public mural in Nanaimo is getting more love than hate

WatchThe new public mural on Cavan Street has sparked more supportive emails than complaints to the City of Nanaimo since its completion.

A new public mural is raising some eyebrows in Nanaimo.

The mural was one of three painted earlier this month as part of the first Hub City Walls festival.

But some are questioning whether it should be on the streets for all to see.

“Only on the island, you’d see something like this. It’s fascinating. Why not? Everthing on there’s legal. Pot’s legal. Whatever’s gushing out of there’s legal. Why not?” said a Nanaimo resident with the first name Sue.

“This is a nice addition. It’s happy. The colours look great. Sure there’s a skull but big deal it’s a skull. Deal with it,” said Richard Jamieson, a Nanaimo resident.

“This is the first time I’ve seen it actually. It kind of stopped me in my tracks here. It’s pretty psychedelic,” Derrick McFarland, another Nanaimo resident.

It’s one of three murals the first-ever Hub City Walls Festival commissioned during the first two weeks of August.

The artist Russell Morland AKA Lurk was among the three picked from more than 30 submissions.

He interviewed while he was painting it.

“I’m hoping more of this can happen for the city and you can see a lot of positive images that can be put out there and it’s been bringing so many people by. People have just been coming by and talking to me,” said Morland in an interview on Aug. 10.

Morland declined an interview on Wednesday.

The organizer of Hub City Walls also declined an interview request saying “we’re not taking any interviews because it’s just a minority complaining and the art is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be by sparking a community conversation.”

The City of Nanaimo says while it did not run the festival, it only funded it to the tune of $15,000, it has been getting feedback.

“Some from people who are not supportive of the project and the mural and have questions about it and also an overwhelming number of people who have written in who are enthusiastic about the results and are really delighted to see that the city is creating opportunities for diverse artists,” said Julie Bevan, the City of Nanaimo’s Manager of Culture and Special Events.

A chef at Melange, a relatively new Nanaimo restaurant, was among those coming down to get his picture taken with the mural today.

“We’re doing some promotional content for the restaurant for a magazine that supports the Black community in Nanaimo and this is just a piece of art that really resonates with diversity and openness,” said Kellie Callender.

Callender says he’s so intrigued by it he’d like to more of the artist’s work around the city.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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