A design representing ‘new beginnings’ is to adorn dozens of Surrey street poles next year, following council’s recent thumbs-up to contracting the work of Kwantlen First Nation artist Atheana Picha for 2022.
“This design of frogs, representing springtime, and new beginnings,” Picha explains of her design, in a corporate report presented to council in late November.
“My teachings are that when the frogs begin singing it is the new year and the beginning of spring.”
According to the report, Picha was selected from among 10 artists who were pre-qualified to be invited to create design proposals.
The city’s Public Art Program commissions a unique design every year, to feature on approximately 125 street poles near significant cultural destinations, including the South Surrey Recreation and Arts Centre.
The banners “provide an opportunity for artists to share their creativity with the community, while also beautifying the City,” the report states.
The process alternates annually between an open call to all artists, and a direct invitation to a significant artist, the report continues, noting artists commissioned in the past have included internationally-known Canadians Robert Davidson, Gordon Smith and Susan Point.
The process for commissioning and selecting the preliminary designs was guided by recommendations from the Kwantlen, Katzie and Semiahmoo First Nations chiefs.
The nine other pre-qualified artists were Leslie Wells, Joan Williams and Roxanne Charles from the Semiahmoo First Nation; Brandon Gabriel, Drew Atkins, Phyllis Atkins, Tony Gabriel and Elinor Atkins (Kwantlen First Nation); and Rain Pierre (Katzie First Nation).
Elders from each First Nation were engaged in the selection process, the report adds.
Picha is described as an interdisciplinary Coast Salish artist. She studied Fine Arts at Langara College and is currently engaged in two mentorships: one learning how to weave, spin and dye with Musqueam weaver Debra Sparrow, and one with Squamish artist Aaron Nelon-Moody, learning engraving.
She is also a two-time recipient of the YVR Art foundation scholarship (2017 and 2019), selected as the youngest artist for the Vancouver Mural festival in 2018 and in the spring of 2021 for the ‘Make Art While Apart’ mural series, the report continues.
The annual budget for the Civic Street Banner Program – including Surrey Gateway, Public Art and Community Group banners – is $125,000, including materials and labour (to install/remove/maintain), for banners at 870 locations across the city. The cost to commission the public art street banner design was $2,500.