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Coronavirus: Murals on boarded-up windows bring beauty to closed Vancouver shops

Local artist Mårïna paints a mural on a downtown Vancouver business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local artist Mårïna paints a mural on a downtown Vancouver business during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of Gastown BIA

Boarded-up storefront windows have become a common sight in downtown Vancouver as many shops have temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, a group of business owners and artists have teamed up to bring a little beauty back to their neighbourhood. 

The Gastown Business Improvement Association has created the Murals of Gratitude project, which invites artists to use those plywood boards as their canvas. 

“Unfortunately, we are one of the businesses that has closed our doors for right now due to COVID-19, and we do have some plywood on the windows to protect them against breakage,” said Wally Wargolet, owner of Dutil Denim on Cordova Street and executive member of the Gastown BIA.

“But we were excited when this program started and we could get some beautiful artwork put up so the vibrancy of our neighbourhood could continue during this downturn.”

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The murals cover a vast range of themes and styles, said Wargolet.

“In our storefront, we have both a beautiful abstract piece of art and also a message about the importance of social distancing at this time.”

The initiative was started by Kim Briscoe of the custom framing and art shop, Kimprints.

“She also had to board up her windows and had the idea that maybe there’s a way to turn a negative into a positive,” said Wargolet.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Street art to inform residents on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Businesses were asked to offer their storefronts to local artists who had joined the project. Thus far, more than 35 murals have been painted by more than 20 artists.

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You can take a virtual tour of the murals on the Gastown website.

The main function of the plywood is to discourage break-ins and thefts, which have increased since the start of the pandemic.

READ MORE: 40 arrested in Vancouver commercial break-ins amid COVID-19 outbreak

Forty suspects have been arrested and charged over the past few weeks in connection with break-and-enters at Vancouver businesses, police said Tuesday.

Business owners are reminded to board up storefront window, upgrade locks, move merchandise away from windows and increase outdoor lighting.