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Based on the 2012 artwork of the same name, the billboard has text written in wiry 3D letters.

Art not ads for Vancouver billboard

A billboard in Strathcona has been reimagined as art for the first time in Vancouver as part of a project…

By Elmira Kuznetsova , in Culture Feature story , on October 27, 2014 Tags: , , , , , ,

Based on the 2012 artwork of the same name, the billboard has text written in wiry 3D letters.
Based on the 2012 artwork of the same name, the billboard has text written in wiry 3D letters

A billboard in Strathcona has been reimagined as art for the first time in Vancouver as part of a project to introduce contemporary Vancouver artists to the community.

It is the result of a collaboration between the Back Gallery Project, a small private venue in Strathcona, and Canada’s largest outdoor advertising company, Pattison Outdoor. Pattison’s Art in Transit program aims to support Canadian art.

For the owner of the Back Gallery Project, Monica Reyes, the partnership was a wonderful opportunity to promote local artists.

“There is a tremendous amount of artistic talent and commitment in the city. We want to be a bridge between the artists and the public”, said Reyes.

Prime spot for commuters

The location of the billboard posed some dilemmas for Reyes as there is a rehabilitation centre and a Christian charity across the road from the gallery.

She choose “Don’t Waste Your Time”, a work by Vancouver-based artist Ben Skinner.

“We went for an artwork with a very engaging and positive message that a lot of people can relate to. They don’t necessarily have to look at the billboard and know that this is art,” explained Reyes.

The artwork will be on display to commuters on East Hastings street until Oct. 31

From shop window to billboard

[pullquote align=right]I hope more prime public space could be donated to artists and non-profits who can’t afford for their voices and concerns to be heard over the Molson sign[/pullquote]

An Ontario native, Ben Skinner arrived in Vancouver in 2006 for a job with fashion boutique Aritzia.

He helped design the shop window displays, which is his main money-earner. He still finds time to show his art widely.

“Almost everywhere we look there is an advertisement in your face with a corporate, financial marketing agenda”, said Skinner.

“I hope more prime public space could be donated to artists and non-profits who can’t afford for their voices and concerns to be heard over the Molson sign.”

Room for experiments

This is the first time such a project has been rolled out in Vancouver. But Pattison has on many occasions provided billboards for various artistic purposes, including photography, digital and collage art, in other parts of the country, mostly in Toronto.

In September, hundreds of short movies we showed on digital billboards across the city subway system for the Toronto Urban Film Festival, supported by Pattison’s Art in Transit initiative.

Back in Vancouver, Reyes is already planning for next year. She is hopeful to expand with an open call to artists to show off their work in public spaces in 2015.