Orange has been in vogue for the past year in Grand Forks. Where mannequins modelled clothing and art decorated downtown windows, raggedy tarps and cardboard had become replacements, signalling to visitors that despite the billboard at the bottom of Spencer Hill that says that the city is “open for business,” there just weren’t a lot of businesses that could function in the aftermath of the flood.
Fitting then, that in the vacant window space of John Zibin’s building beside the source — the former storefront of Yaky Jacquie’s — a massive panorama of the Spencer Hill view now greets visitors. At least, until the building’s foundation issues are solved and renovated and business starts up again in the vacant space.
Zibin’s new artwork came courtesy of Peter Kalasz, a local photographer (who shoots for the Gazette on occasion too), and a team involving designers, the Downtown Business Association, the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Alpine Signs in Christina Lake, which donated the metres-long window wrap at-cost for materials.
Kalasz said the idea came to him in the spring, when he was out for a morning walk downtown and began to notice just how many vacant and bland window coverings there were in town. The question about what to do was simple, he said. “Why not?”
Though Highway 3 currently only wraps around Zibin’s building, Kalasz and the DBA have plans for more. The Davis Building, just across 3rd Street from Zibin, is on the list to have another panorama fill its windows while workers repair the damage from last year’s flood.
For many business owners downtown, a series of presentations from city revitalization consultant Roger Brooks last month spurred an eagerness to polish up their neighbourhood.
Before the flood, Zibin said, “we didn’t have a focus, we didn’t have a direction, we were just trying to survive and change with the marketplace.” The Source manager has bought in fully, having already purchased a few patio umbrellas and invested into repairing the fountain outside his business’s front door.
Just down the street, The Wooden Spoon got a Canada Day facelift from muralist Paul Archer, who sprayed a one-storey-tall portrait of a child licking a wooden spoon on the wall. Archer, who has done art for CannaFest and at Christina Lake already, has been taking up orders over the last week and will be painting around town on other walls too.
With potted plants planned for businesses doorways and more artwork from Archer, Kalasz and others, downtown Grand Forks is putting on a refreshed face to attract businesses and customers to the city’s core once again for tourist season.