MURALS OF DENMAN STREET
Story & photos by Dianne Maguire
(click on images to enlarge)
When I mention the murals around Denman Street, the first ones to come to mind are the bold creations that decorate the front of the West End Community Centre at 870 Denman. Painted by popular local artist Tiko Kerr in 1995, they are on either side of the main door into the Centre. The one on the left depicts a fanciful inuksuk of tree trunk, drift wood and magnificent seagull watching all he surveys from the top.
I discovered the hard way that it is difficult to photograph the whole of this two-storey-high work of art on a sunny day. On the right of the door is a lush half cylinder of greenery and yellow calla lilies, which I hope local artist Tiko Kerr knows brightens the day of all who pass here, even on a rainy Vancouver afternoon.
On the other side of the street, a couple of blocks toward English Bay, I came across a mural I didn’t even know was there. On the end wall of a building just in the Henshaw Lane off Denman, between Comox and Nelson, is a large, eye-catching floral inspired mural called “Drifter”, which title reflects the gently wind-blown blooms. This dramatic abstraction of flowers was painted by internationally employed Vancouver muralist Drew Young in 2018. It holds a fitting place on the lane named for Julia Henshaw, one of BC’s leading botanists and author of Mountain Wild Flowers of America.
Walking down Denman toward Robson, on the same side of the street, is a mural I kept hearing about, but until now, I never looked in the right place.
It is a large homage to the Salish First Nation that has been painted on a sizeable wall space behind the Time Square Suites building located between Georgia and Robson. This is in the Elihu Lane named after an Hawaiian settler from the Kanaka Ranch area that was part of the Devonian Park. West End artist Kim Hunter called her work “Salish Sea Welcome”. The work depicts local wild life and many symbols of the history of this region: orca and ducks, seawall and cyclists, the Lion Gates bridge and, with permission from First Nation artist Susan Point, the totem arches in Stanley Park.
When you get to the corner of Denman and Robson, cross the street and walk along Robson for a block to Bidwell and the Cobs bakery. Go right into Bidwell to find the charming landscape mural by local artist Bonnie Ackland. The story I heard from the clerk at the West End Paint and Hardware Store was that the owner of the building saw some of artist Ackland’s work and asked her for design ideas for his large bare wall. He was impressed with her depiction of colourful houses, an inlet and sailboats, so he persuaded Pittsburgh paints to donate the materials needed. In the spring and summer you can see Bonnie Ackland’s work on sale at the Painters’ Corner in Stanley Park.