One brush stroke at a time, Bob Sellmer is transforming the empty walls of a downtown Victoria soup kitchen.
Sellmer has hand-drawn every intricate line in the recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
Now a self-taught artist being paid for his incredible talent, it wasn’t long ago Sellmer was sitting in one of the 9-10 Club‘s seats himself, in need of a hot meal.
“Lost my apartment and everything like that, it’s like they say, we’re all just a couple paychecks away,” said Sellmer.
Sellmer was hit by a bus while riding his bike in 2007. He was working as a house painter at the time.
“Everything was mangled pretty bad, bad ligament damage, so that put me off the painting game,” he said.
He ended up on welfare and was living in hostels after being kicked out of his apartment.
After eating at the 9-10 Club Soup Kitchen, and nearby Our Place for a year, he decided to start volunteering.
“It gave me the confidence that I knew physically that I could work again although not in the same profession,” Sellmer said.
Sellmer got hired on full time as a dish washer at Our Place and completed his first major art piece.
“We had this big blank wall and it seemed a bit of a shame, commissioned Bob and we talked about some ideas and he created this incredible mural,” said Grant McKenzie, Our Place Society’s Director of Communications.
He’s since done two more at Our Place including a painting in the administration office.
His clients are impressed.
“It’s like holy dolly this guy is a rock star,” said Calvin Jones, a cook with the 9-10 Club.
Sellmer hopes his art, and his story can inspire those who will look at them each day
“You get great reactions from people, and it’s not for me, it’s for them right?” he said.
“This might inspire others to reach down and think ya, you know I could do something else too,” said Jones.
For Sellmer, it’s a chance to give back and brighten the days of those who helped him in some of his darkest.