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City approves mural for back wall of Capitol Theatre

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
July 14th, 2020

A mural has been tentatively approved by the city for the iconic lane-facing wall of the Capitol Theatre where impromptu art has graced the alley for years.

City council approved a mural proposed by the Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC) and designed by Spokane artist Ric Gendron, contingent on the Cultural Development Committee’s (CDC) approval of the proposed design.

The move was a fortunate coupe for the city, said Coun. Brittny Anderson, who noted the Supreme Court had just declared the Sinixt people were not extinct.

“So this is a strong move toward reconciliation. I know the CDC has worked really hard on building that relationship,” she said.

Coun. Cal Renwick agreed, but had some concerns.

“However, this is our building and I find it inappropriate, actually. I mean, I look at it and it scares … me. And I got the memo from Sydney (Black) explaining what it all means, and I look at some of his other work — which I think is great — but I think it is just inappropriate to put on a public building,” he said.

“In fact, I think it makes it scarier being in an alley. I would not support this at all.”

Anderson felt the mural was the right representation, since the artist has received the approval and blessing of Shelly Boyd, Sinixt /Arrow Lakes cultural facilitator for the Colville Tribes.

“When you say that you do find them scary, we have to recognize that reconciliation is hard and it’s not always easy … these were the first people of this land,” she said.

“As we are deconstructing the colonialism, we do have to face some things that are going to make us uncomfortable. It’s not on us as dominant white culture to choose everything that gets depicted in society, particularly with reconciliation, I think that it is critically important that we do respect what the artist and what the nation feels is important.

Just because we don’t understand it from our cultural lens doesn’t mean that it isn’t an important depiction from an artist.”

The motion to approve the mural passed, with Renwick still opposed.

The Capitol Theatre board of directors had approved the piece.

The mural will run the length of the back wall. The dimensions for the wall are 30 feet by 30 feet. The budget for the mural is approximately $18,100. Artist fees include conceptualization and design time, surface preparation and installation.

Ric Gendron

Spokane artist Ric Gendron (pronounced zhan-dreau) is a dual-enrolled member of the Sinixt/Arrow Lakes Band of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla.

Gendron is an important late-career indigenous artist, and has a career that spans over 30 years, featuring vibrantly expressionistic and lyrical paintings and prints.

His paintings and mixed-media works illustrate the rich and diverse visual vocabulary of traditional Upper Columbia Plateau Indian culture and iconography, but a traditional iconography made wholly contemporary.

He has exhibited his work in galleries, museums and group shows from Portland to New York, and is actively involved in the Santa Fe Indian Market and the Heard Museum Show in Phoenix, AZ.

— Source: Nelson and District Arts Council

Bring the mural

The city’s Official Community Plan and the mural policy allow for mural applications in the Downtown Development Permit area.

As the property owner, council’s permission is required to paint murals on city property.

Each year since 2018, council has approved multiple proposed murals for city property for the annual Nelson International Mural Festival.

City policy states “that the Cultural Development Committee (CDC) must review mural applications and that their recommendation must be taken into account before a permit is issued.”

Due to the requested timeline, the application had not been considered by the CDC.

— Source: City of Nelson

Project plan

  • The project ideally will be completed in August of 2020, depending on border openings.
  • The project will take up to 14 days to complete including surface preparation.
  • Ideally the majority of the work occurs on evenings and weekends so as to maximize community engagement as they witness the creation of the piece.
  • The surface will be pressure washed. A white acrylic based primer coat will be applied to the entire wall to ensure continuity. Beauti-Tone acrylic paint will be used along with Montana Brand Spray.
  • The Nelson and District Arts Council holds the liability insurance policy with the City of Nelson named as additionally insured, as well as Worksafe coverage for the artist.
  • With proper maintenance the mural’s lifespan can be over 20 years.

“NDAC is committed to maintaining the piece with the support of the artist on an annual basis, or when notified of any issues with graffiti,” said Black.

— Source: Nelson and District Arts Council


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