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Artists have a picnic painting pop-up tables

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 3:11 PDT, Fri July 16, 2021

Last Updated: 3:27 PDT, Fri July 16, 2021

The work of local artists adorns picnic tables around the city this summer as part of a Tourism Richmond pop-up project.

There are 31 tables in total, grouped in seven areas. Each area has at least one table painted by a local artist. At Britannia Shipyards, two tables are painted by Phoenix Art Workshop owner Mark Glavina and several of his youth students.

“We started about a month ago, with the youth trying to come up with a concept,” says Glavina. “But with school still in session, and me working more than full time, it was a bit hard to coordinate our times on such short notice.”

After two design planning meetings and three days of painting, Glavina put the final touches (and varnish) on the tables last week.

“One table represents the serenity of lying under a big old tree, the second sitting on (a) rock next to the river teeming with life,” he says. “The youth came up with the ideas, and I helped pare (them) down to something that we could paint within their individual skill set.”

Glavina says a big old dying tree at the shipyard was the inspiration for the first table. The second was inspired by “the mighty Fraser River draining smaller rivers and streams throughout the province and spawning grounds for our important but fleeting salmon industry.”

He explains that creativity is a unique process for each person, and that the tree table was primarily finger painted.

“Creativity is creativity—everyone has a different process, but creative thinking can be cultivated by encouragement, practice, observation and understanding.”

While Glavina was asked to help with the project, the other artists were chosen through an open call. The program, funded by Tourism Richmond, is a partnership with the table locations including the city and three malls.

“We wanted to support our local restaurants because they’re all doing take-out and at reduced capacity,” says Ceri Chong, Tourism Richmond’s director of industry and destination development. “We thought a way to do that would be to provide picnic areas close to the restaurants, so that people could get their take-out and go and eat at the picnic areas.”

Chong explains that each artist was briefed to create a design that represented the city, as well as Tourism Richmond’s “Pacific. Authentic.” theme. Artists were paired with a location that fit the style and focus of their art.

“For example, the (table) at Aberdeen Centre is by Dawn (Lo), and she did a picture of a hot pot with really cute people on it,” says Chong. “That’s really fitting for Aberdeen Centre because there’s two hot pot restaurants right above where the picnic table is.”

All seven artists will be profiled on Tourism Richmond’s website along with their tables. While the initial plan is to keep the tables in place until September, Chong says if the weather is good and people are still using them, they might stay out a little longer. Then, they’ll be stored until next summer and brought out again—maybe in different locations.

“Richmond is known for its strong culinary scene—people travel here from all over the world just to eat. Having picnic tables and outdoor gathering spaces available makes it easier for everyone to support our amazing restaurants this summer. We are thrilled to be partnering with local artists to bring our city to life through artist’s work,” says Tourism Richmond chief executive officer Nancy Small.

The tables can be found in the following areas:

• Aberdeen Centre

• Lansdowne Centre (two locations)

• CF Richmond Centre

• Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site

• Steveston Town Square Park (next to the post office)

• Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site

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