Opinion: A lack of plaques makes public artists anonymous

Art, Off The Vine

Over the years, the Fraser Valley has blossomed into an area full of public art and culture. Statues have risen, murals added, and cultural difference welcomed with open arms. With growth comes new businesses, families, and artistic opportunities which should be given proper credit.

Abbotsford in particular stands at the forefront of public artistic expressionism. Although growth was slow, between 2001 and 2013 we welcomed new murals and beautiful statues that reflected who we were as a city to locals and visitors.

All these years, local artists have been commissioned to help beautify the urban panorama of our hometown— but can you name one of them?

Who are the artists that have created this work? Where are the history and educational opportunities we can learn from? How do we know who created something, and when? There are no plaques, no signs, no information through City staff that can tell us about these amazing people and their inspirations.

Everywhere you look around the city you will see a common name, Dean Lauze. Lauze has painted murals for years around Abbotsford and has become a well-known artist among businesses looking to jazz up a blank or graffiti-covered wall. But if it wasn’t for his large and prominent signature, we wouldn’t have any idea of his amazing achievements.

We should be supporting our artists—our neighbours—in their passionate fight to show their soul through their work. Many artists don’t see creation as a choice, it’s something they have to do and it can be agonizing. Why don’t we honour this struggle with information we can share?

This shouldn’t be something that gets pushes to the side and forgotten, only to be taken down or painted over when someone else buys that land, which is what happened to the viking mural that once graced the side of the Ford dealership on South Fraser Way. Or the “Cry for Africa” mural on the same major road that has been there for a decade.

What was the meaning behind these murals? “Cry for Africa” was fairly specific, but what did it mean to the person who commissioned it? It was there for so long and yet there is no public info.

Who built the raspberry statue? Or the brick salmon off Old Yale Road? Moved from its original Mill Lake Park location, the rumour is that it was one of Abbotsford’s first art installations, but nobody really knows. If it is one of the firsts, who was the artist? Who created it?

Recognition of someone’s work and achievements matter, and when art is placed in the public eye, the public has the right to know. Let’s learn about our surroundings and give our artists credit.

Image from Tourism Abbotsford