Part of the photo-realistic 6th Street Mural completed by artists Nick Gregson, David Mercer, John De Matos and Jesom. Photos by Paul Reid
BY PAUL REID
Three years since it was first rendered, the Veterans Memorial Mural that was painted onto the walls of Branch #179 is looking as fresh as ever.
In 2014, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #179 commissioned local mural artist Nick Gregson to give the walls of the branch a facelift. Nick worked with the branch to come up with a design. Four months after the first strokes were made, the transformation and resulting mural were nothing short of miraculous.
Nick and his volunteer crew (John De Matos, David Mercer, Jesom) worked throughout the summer and into the fall months, right up until Remembrance Day.
“This was a huge project. I wish we had more time to put in more detail,” says volunteer painter, David Mercer when interviewed on that day of its completion in 2014. “It’s something we worked hard at doing – just wish we had another month. But we’re quite proud of it and have been getting positive remarks.”
All who see the Veterans Memorial Mural will agree that the amount of detail on this mural is incredible. Using photos provided by Branch #179, the painters were able to capture near photo-realistic renditions of the faces of the Branch #179 members, sports teams and veterans of today and of the past.
“I have seen a lot of branch murals,” says Gerry Vowles, “and I think this must be one of the best, if not the best.” A member of the branch since 1980 and former BC/Yukon Command President, Mr. Vowles is a retired Canadian Forces veteran who has served in many executive capacities throughout his RCL career at Branch, Zone and Provincial Command levels.
Nick Gregson at work on the Veterans Memorial Mural.
Nickolas Gregson’s artistic practice is rooted in graffiti and community-centered public art. Raised in East Vancouver, Gregson drew inspiration from local street art and the sanctioned graffiti spaces of Leeside Tunnel Skateboard Park.
In the same year that he created the Veterans Memorial Mural, Gregson launched the Metro Vancouver Art and Mural Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to building stronger communities through public art. Since that time, Gregson’s art and mural society has been transforming Vancouver’s blank walls into vibrant murals.
Being that it is such an exceptional work of art, the branch hopes to keep it up for years to come. “It’s been laminated,” explained Dave, when being interviewed about the mural back in 2014, “so if anyone tags it with graffiti, it will just wash off and be as good as new.” Thanks to the vigilant maintenance by the branch, it has remained as such.
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