12. Celebrating Community

Celebrating CommunityArtists: Rita Buchwitz & Joey Mallett
Year: 2011
Location: 315 Powell Street
Dimensions: H. 42 feet L. 36 feet
Best Viewed: Northeast corner Powell & Gore

Celebrating Community on Powell Street

More than just beautifying a plain wall of St. James’s Cecelia House, supportive housing for those living with mental health issues, the mural incorporates symbols that refer to the rich history of the community. For example, fishing boats represent the Japanese who once fished and lived in this area, then known as Japan Town. Shells represent the First Nations midden that is reputed to have once existed on the shores near what is now Crab Park, and a scallop shell in the mural’s bottom corner is a nod to St. James Community Service Society, which has a scallop shell in its logo.

“The nature of the imagery in the mural design respects the historical and current-day activities that enrich the businesses and residences of the area where the wall is located. The mural will be seen by those living, working and visiting the community,” says the artist, Joey Mallett.

At the unveiling, St. James executive director Jonathan Oldman stated “As the Society celebrates its 50th anniversary, it’s so clear that our history is intertwined with that of our local neighbourhood and with the city as a whole. It’s impossible to work in this part of the Downtown Eastside and not feel a strong sense of history… Vibrant communities have been both created and lost right here, and for those of us who are working to strengthen today’s neighbourhood, there is much to take inspiration from. This mural is just one way we can acknowledge and celebrate that history, and we’re very proud to have helped in its creation.”

Improving the lives of vulnerable people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is what St. James Community Service Society is about and has been about for fifty years. In keeping with this goal, SJCSS proudly unveiled, at the Powell Street Festival, a mural by Vancouver artists Joey Mallett and Rita Buchwitz.The mural, celebrates the diversity of this historic neighbourhood and the 50th anniversary of St. James Community Service Society.

Created in partnership with the City of Vancouver’s Celebrate Vancouver 125 Mural Program and st. James Society.

The Wall from Hyphen Communications on Vimeo.