A suspect has been arrested after one of Sechelt’s murals was vandalized over the long weekend.
On Oct. 7, the Sunshine Coast RCMP were called at 2:50 p.m. by a witness who saw a male spray painting the mural at Friendship Park.
Const. Karen Whitby told Coast Reporter the suspect was known to police and arrested for mischief without incident.
One wall of the three-wall painting was covered with phrases including “Don’t be selfish," “Be kind” and “If you’re scared remember where you came from” in orange and purple spray paint. The creator of the mural has been working with the District of Sechelt to assess and remove what they can.
The mural was commissioned in 2016 to celebrate the 30th anniversaries of self-government for shíshálh Nation and of the District of Sechelt. Sunshine Coast muralist Dean Schutz created “Sunday Afternoon on Sechelt’s Grand Shore” in the style of Fresh post-impressionist Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on la Grand Jatte” — but featuring local characters and places instead of Parisians on the bank of the Seine.
On Monday, Oct. 9, shíshálh Nation marked its 37th Self-Government Day.
Sechelt council has yet to discuss the vandalism of the mural in a meeting. Mayor John Henderson told Coast Reporter, “ Yes, we’re going to fix it. I don't know what that means or what it will cost. But absolutely, we're going to fix it.”
Schutz, told Coast Reporter via email that he is disappointed and saddened by the vandalism. “Though it seems like something that might be expected, in over 35 years of painting walls it has been very very rare to have work vandalized. And when it has, it's always something small. I've never seen anything like this. Tags on murals are rare and go against graffiti culture etiquette. This kind of scrawling seems more a reflection of the ongoing overall collapse of society we are witnessing as folks struggle with acute health and homelessness issues.”
Schutz said he was quite happy with his mural at Friendship Park. When he finished the mural, Schutz shared in a Local Weekly story that he wanted “to create a vibrant and inclusive design that would honour and reflect the diverse elements of Sechelt Village, the shíshálh Nation, industrial activity at the port, children in the playground, and people enjoying nature along the waterfront.”
Since the vandalism covers most of the mural’s largest wall, Schutz said repairs will be “a major undertaking” but he is hopeful the District will support a full restoration of the original painting. The artist himself is in the midst of another big project, so his own involvement may have to wait until springtime.
“Public art is important,” he added. “And we need more of it in this part of the world. My hope is that it draws people in to investigate and sparks curiosity, imagination, wonder, and inspires onlookers while leading them towards appreciating the value of such installations and supporting more public art.”