By Steve Hubrecht

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The Village of Radium Hot Springs will soon add another dash of colour, in the form of a new piece of public art. The village accepted expressions of interest throughout April from artists keen on creating a mural on the currently blank walls of a concrete structure by the Radium Hot Springs Centre.

The concrete structure is in fact a three-sided blast wall surrounding the propane tanks by the centre’s parking lot, explained Mayor Mike Gray.

“We’d like to see a piece of art up there,” he told the Pioneer. 

Although Gray outlined that “when we’re evaluating (the proposals), we will be looking at Columbia Valley artists as ideal candidates,” anyone from anywhere was welcome to submit an expression of interest.

“We’re keen to see what people have come up with,” said Gray. He noted there are other spots in Radium that could work as locations for murals or other public art, and that, once the village has had a chance to review the proposals, if there multiple strong ideas, the village may consider opening up some of these other locations for artwork.

Gray said it was too preliminary at this stage to disclose exactly where these other potential public art spots are.

The blast wall is fairly large — 30 feet long by seven feet (nine metres by two metres) high on its largest (southern) side and 10 feet (three metres) wide by seven feet high on the other two sides. 

The village wants the mural to become a focal point of the community, and is asking artists to incorporate one or more of the following themes into their concept proposals: water, wildlife (especially Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, a herd of which makes its home in Radium), and Indigenous. Before painting, the artist must seek permission from the relevant First Nation(s) for any Indigenous content. The village outlined that it is willing to help with this particular process.

The mural will be the latest in what has become a burgeoning number of art pieces, both publicly and privately installed in Radium in recent years. A decade ago there were few, if any. Now there is the iconic and unmissable Bighorns public art sculpture in the middle of the Radium roundabout, the horse sculptures at the Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery, and at Valley Zipline Adventures (just south of Radium), as well as the mural at Screamers.

“In a world of Instagramable locations and moments, it helps the village to have a few of those spots. It adds to the village in a way that is significant,” said Gray. “But it is so much more than just places for visitors to take a selfie. They add to the feeling of community. And when you drive past them every day, they are a reminder to appreciate what’s beautiful in life around you.”

“Artwork like murals beautify our public spaces and create opportunities where people can come together and enjoy those spaces where they may otherwise not,” said Radium Chief Administrative Officer Adrian Bergles. “Public art makes a statement on what a community values and feels is important. Hopefully it can enrich the lives of all who live in, and visit, Radium Hot Springs.”

The mural will be painted over the summer.