Chemanius may currently be the mural capital of B.C. But with Judy Pohl’s recent completion of another painting along the one-way section of Fraser Highway, Langley City is a becoming a contender.
Karl Schutz started painting murals in Chemanius in 1981, and the Vancouver Island community now boasts 40-plus – which is a huge tourism draw for the small north island village.
Well, Langley is catching up with the addition of Pohl’s Beauty of Strength Alzheimer’s and dementia tribute wall on the old Royal Bank building becoming the 17th mural in the city core.
In a few short weeks, this and 10 more of her paintings, along with a handful from other artists, will become part of a self-guided downtown mural tour, said Teri James, executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association.
“Discover Langley City is proud to present the mural walk coming up in July,” she said, noting that Langley City is only four square miles and a lovely place for a stroll.
The murals, which James called the “most beautiful wall art you’ve ever seen,” help make such strolls more pleasurable, hence the idea to promote the experience as self-guided tours.
“These murals are literally gifts, and it’s all her,”James said, looking at Pohl’s most recent painting. “There’s no community out there that wouldn’t appreciate this.”
The sentiment was echoed by City Mayor Ted Schaffer, who was joined by all the council members for a recent unveiling.
“You’re an incredible artist,” he said to Pohl. “Job well done, again.”
Pohl, a Langley City resident herself, has painted 11 murals – including her newest one – in the core in the past five years.
While some have been commissioned pieces, others have just been “gifts.”
“The story is quite simple,” James interjected. “[Judy] approaches me every so often and says ‘Teri, I have some art that needs to get out.’ So then, we start the process of finding her a wall.”
Last years, Pohl painted what she dubbed the bumblebee wall in Salt Lane. She hopes that wall emphasizes for onlookers the importance of saving the bees.
Before that, in 2015, she donated her time to paint trees, shrubs, and a walkway on the east wall of Fenton Lane.
This time out, she said it was a more selfish project – “It’s one I’m doing for a friend who is losing her mom to Alzheimer’s.”
This project was conceived last October, but it took until June to realize – when Pohl had time between paying gigs – to actually finalize and implement her vision.
“It took a long time to think through what I actually wanted on the wall,” she added, noting there were several different renderings before the final idea came to life on the wall.
The west side of the building, now occupied by offices and a coffee shop, was once home to a City map. That was removed to make room for Pohl’s sea of blue flowers and butterfly.
“This really is a tribute to the spirit of courage and love for family affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia,” she said, explaining that the actual painting of the wall only took about 30 hours.
“The Forget Me Not flowers are a representation the true and undying love, a connection that lasts through time, despite separation and loss,” she explained.
“The flowers remind us of our favourite memories or time together with those affected. The Beauty of Strength is represented in the butterfly, as despite the challenge and heart break, it continues to tend to the flowers.”
Pohl makes her living painting murals, chalkboards, windows and signs with Judy’s Custom Art Services, but this most recent project – as well as the bees – are a labour of love.
She calls them “community projects,” noting that the DLBA always contributes by finding her space, Cloverdale Paint has once again donated all the paint, and her friends always keep her well infused with caffeine.
“I love how everyone is eager to chip in on projects like this,” Pohl said.
James again interjected with a question for Pohl.
“Next,” she queried, then offered “I’ll keep finding you walls forever.”