Old Hazelton is getting some brand new art.
It’s been some time: two years of economic development meetings, securing funding and getting approval from the village and various other parties, including the owner of the building, but Leah Pipe is finally pulling out the paint.
The Hazelton artist recently began a mural in Old Hazelton, being completed right next to the corner of Field and Omineca Streets.
Pipe said she is very excited to finally be able to begin the mural.
“It’s called ‘The Return’ and it celebrates salmon, Gitxsan culture and our pioneer history that is part of the village of Hazelton.”
But this is no regular mural.
Instead of completing it herself, Pipe said she is looking for help from anyone in the area, even people who wouldn’t consider themselves artists but want to help out.
“There’s subsections of the mural I’ve designed so that, even if you’re not a painter, you can come and pick up a brush and participate and add a mark.”
Pipe said she hopes to have the mural — which also has salmon designs that have been donated by Hazelton-based Roy Henry Vickers — finished by the end of August, adding that the days they’ve 100 per cent committed to being downtown for anyone wanting to help out are friday to monday in August.
As a special treat for the Village’s annual Pioneer Day this year, Buenos Aires-born artist and Smithers resident Facundo Gastiazoro was also present at the mural, working on a section.
Pipe said it was an honour to get to work with him and that it really added a whole another element to the mural.
Herself a fourth-generation Hazeltonian, she said that things like local geography and wildlife heavily influence her art.
“I do mountainscapes and paintings of salmon and wolves and ravens … really kind of the things that make the heartbeat of the north.”
She said the mural was also made possible through organizations like the Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Bulkley Valley Community Foundation, BC Arts Council, Misty Rivers Community Arts Council and Upper Skeena Development Centre.