Stop #26 on the Public Art in Kelowna tour is 1476 Water Street, home of the Okanagan Rainbow Coalition.
The Coalition received a grant from the City of Kelowna Public Art Committee during Pride Week 2009, and this mural is the result. The work is described on the City website:
This community project boldly celebrates the positive theme of unity. The imagery was developed through a series of focus groups with local gay, lesbian and gender-questioning youth.
Interestingly, the mural includes not only the six colours seen in the Rainbow Flag, but the two colours later dropped from the original version. Each colour has a meaning: red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), blue (harmony), and purple/violet (spirit). The mural includes the removed colours pink (sexuality) and turquoise (magic).
This stunning mural is a huge step in the right direction, away from the dark days of 1997 when then-Mayor Walter Gray refused to proclaim “Gay and Lesbian Pride Day,” instead proclaiming “Gay and Lesbian Day” because he didn’t want anyone to think he believed that being gay or lesbian was anything to be proud of.
In March, 2000, a BC Human Rights Tribunal found the action discriminatory in that proclamations are a service customarily available to the public, adding that a mayor does not have the right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Mayor Gray then refused to proclaim anything else, ever, for the rest of his time in office.
So, boldly celebrating the positive theme of unity is huge here in Kelowna. I wonder if the magic had anything to do with it.
Pride week kicks off this year, complete with Proclamation (PDF), on August 8. And as the result of the work Mayor Sharon Shepherd and City Council did on the new Flag Policy and Flag Guidelines (PDF), this year for the first time, the Rainbow Flag will fly above City Hall.
Congratulations to the Okanagan Rainbow Coalition, Scott Tobin, the Kelowna Public Art Committee, and the City officials and staff on a job well done.
Find out more about Public Art in Kelowna here. If you’re reading this before September 4, 2011, you still have time to get to the “Please Touch the Art” exhibit at the Kelowna Art Gallery. It’s a wonderful exhibit, and has inspired me to visit every piece of public art in Kelowna. Eventually.