Festival of Murals Society president Tom Andrews and Town Crier Ben Buss on a walking tour of the Chemainus murals. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Mural founder’s project proposal rejected by Society

Festival of Murals deems the time isn’t right for such a massive undertaking

The Chemainus Festival of Murals Society has denied support for a concept by the founder of the Chemainus murals to host an international project in 2021.

Karl Schutz, working with Betty Short, proposed a new idea for an international mural attraction and was asking the Mural Society to make a joint presentation to North Cowichan council to receive permission to proceed.

Society president Tom Andrews said the proposal came out of the blue, but it went to the board for a vote. Of the nine board members, eight voted ‘no’ and one person abstained.

“It’s a big job and can take up to four years from an idea to get a project implemented,” stressed Andrews.

He cited the labyrinth in Waterwheel Park as an example that came under Festival of Murals Society jurisdiction.

Related: Newest Chemainus mural a collaborative effort

In an email reply to Schutz, Andrews noted the Society does not have the capacity or the interest to take on an additional theme.

“The Mural Society is run by a dedicated board of volunteers,” he indicated. “We do an excellent job at adding one or two mural projects per year. We keep the outdoor art gallery well maintained and attractive for tourists, visitors and the people of Chemainus and promote the mural program worldwide through our excellent website and social media. We manage three series of murals: the historical series, the Emily Carr series and the community series.”

Related: Curator keeps murals in tip-top shape

He added the board would be advising the Municipality that the Mural Society is not prepared to move forward with the proposal.

Andrews also pointed out with so much uncertainly pertaining to COVID-19, an international endeavour would bring huge health and financial risks. “This is not the time to get into something like this.”

“Chemainus has attracted international tourists for decades to view the murals representing our local history,” emphasized Schutz in his pitch to the Society.

The inspiration for the outdoor art gallery actually originated in July of 1971 when Schutz and wife Betty saw murals on historical monasteries in Sucevita, Romania.

His vision was to pursue the creative depiction of life stories in Canada with a unique opportunity for people who appreciate art to come to Vancouver Island, experience the community’s tranquil environment and contribute to the local economy.

“Since the Chemainus Festival of Murals had initiated this project in the early ’80s the success of this endeavour has drawn other communities to model their own outdoor artistry,” noted Schutz. “Now a Global Mural Association has been established which includes communities from all over the world including various locations in North America, Africa, Europe, South America, Australia and in Asia. The most recent one was Hua Quan Village in southeastern China.”

His latest idea was for Chemainus to recognize visitors represent many nations around the world.

”We wish to acknowledge their cultural uniqueness by inviting international artists to create familiar landmark images from their own countries: for example, a monastery from Romania, the Eiffel Tower from France, or the Castle in Heidelberg. The possibilities are endless.”

Schutz pledged the location of the murals could be created by at least a 1,000 metre long backdrop running parallel to Chemainus Road. He had Art Carlyle create some photo illustrations.

Upon hearing about the decision, Schutz chastised the board for its lack of vision.

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Mural project founder Karl Schutz meets with artists during a walking tour in 2018. (Photo by Don Bodger)

This is part of Karl Schutz’s vision for the entrance into Chemainus, with new murals lining a wall along Chemainus Road. (Photo illustration by Art Carlyle)

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