Penticton becoming a street art mecca

From Vancouver, John Langer had seen street art before, but not so much that was untouched.

It took only a week for John Langer to fall in love with Penticton.

Even after living on the North Shore for 33 years, he knew after just one week in Penticton that he was here to stay.

“It was already decided, I had memorized all the roads here in the first week,” said Langer. “That was it, and I didn’t look back.”

He fell in love with the beautiful nature surrounding the city, and in particular the art painted on the walls of many businesses along Main Street.

As an outreach worker in Vancouver, working with the Salvation Army and the city, Langer had seen street art before but not so much that was untouched.

“I was just really surprised, even if you have cleaners out there every morning, that there isn’t more graffiti on the artwork here,” said Langer. “It’s a great thing to do with an alleyway.

“It just strikes me that there’s a lot of respect for it here.”

On tour of some of the pieces along Main Street that he photographed back on his first trip to Penticton, Langer did not point to any piece as being better than any other.

“Art is a personal thing, it speaks to you one way or it doesn’t, so just because one thing doesn’t grab me doesn’t mean it wouldn’t to somebody else,” he said.

One piece of art in the downtown core stands out as Langer’s personal favourite.

It’s not the largest, taking up just a small wall next to a parking space in the alley to the west of Main Street. It’s also not particularly complex in design, but even years after first seeing it, it still speaks to Langer.

The piece features a white hand that transforms into a dove, and flies away.

While in Vancouver, Langer had a list of over 200 clients that he looked after and sees echoes of the same issues in Penticton.

“I just see a huge gap between two unfortunately completely separate entities in this town,” said Langer. “There’s a group of people who feel they are trying to protect what they have, and they don’t understand the other group, which is the youth.”

One option that Langer thinks might help would be a community program for street art, to give youth a different outlet for their energy and time.

“I’d support that 100 per cent. Just step back and let people do their own things,” Langer said. “It’s great to give these kids something they can take photos of and show to their family and be proud of.”

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