Art is in the Beauty of the Beholder

This is especially true when looking at modern street art! Here in Vancouver, we are fortunate to host one of the largest mural festivals on the west coast. This event brings hundreds of talented artists for a two week celebration of art, music and culture. Oh, and of course the food and parties!

Ask me to pick one of my favorite pieces along the Street Art & Craft Beer Walking Tour is hard to answer. Over the years of my touring, I have seen the neighborhood develop; with more condominiums being built and more art being installed. It’s hard, because with every passing Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF) I find myself mulling-over the newest and coolest street art.

If I had to pick one of my favorite murals to talk about…. It has to be “Presence” by Animalitoland and let me explain why! I had the pleasure of meeting Graciela Gonçalves Da Silva one evening during the early days of the multi-week VMF. Many artists are starting their canvas or planning, and I wanted to see the “behind-the-scenes” before the finished work. While walking around I stumbled upon Graciela up in the skyjack painting away into the evening. I stood and watched for a couple minutes but knew she was busy and 50’ft in the air. I snapped a picture or two, posted on Instagram and went on my way.

Little Did I Know…

Later that evening, Graciela reposted my story and sparked a conversation. We talked about her art, the city of Vancouver and how I was a tour guide with Toonie Tours. The conversation then progressed into the meaning of her upcoming piece in the VMF – “Presence”. She posted on her Instagram asking her followers to post words of emotion and feeling. I responded with “devil-may-care/happy-go-lucky”. None by far the most common idioms but an emotion I feel when thinking about the zest of life. Graciela and I had another conversation about these words and she explained to me what she was going to do with them.

A couple weeks pass and it’s almost the end of the 2020 VMF. I happen to walk by Graciela’s piece which is now complete. I stood, standing by the wall, staring up into the intricacies of her work and reading the words on the mural. Graciela had used all of her responses from Instagram and incorporated them into her art! And there it was, “devil-may-care/happy-go-lucky” on the top right quadrant of the piece!

It is a surreal experience to have collaborated with an artist, even at the most finite level, especially knowing what this now public piece of street art stands for. To see the piece from beginning to end was beautiful. The ability of what Graciela could complete in such a short amount of time is stunning. Nonetheless, the connection and conversations I had with Graciela transcends beyond just art on a wall. It is now a story to add whenever we pass by her piece on our evening Street Art & Craft Beer Walking Tour, or on our morning Street Art & Craft Coffee Tour.



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