Updated: Port Coquitlam picks painter to lead Pride art project

The municipality announced artist Steve Baylis will lead the LGBTQ2+ project.

Tiles painted in rainbow flag colours is the concept for the city of Port Coquitlam’s first-ever Pride art.

Last Friday, the municipality announced professional artist — and Riverside secondary graduate — Steve Baylis won the contract to lead the public-participation project.

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Aimed at promoting diversity and recognizing the LGBTQ2+ community, the artwork will surround the fountain at Leigh Square Community Arts Village, next to PoCo city hall; a commemorative plaque will also be installed.

“Having grown up in Port Coquitlam, I’m quite familiar with the space,” the Maple Ridge resident told The Tri-City News Monday.

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On Thursday, Baylis will talk about his Pride art at the city’s cultural roundtable, which is open to the public, happening from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Michael Wright Art Gallery at the Gathering Place at Leigh Square.

At the meeting, Baylis will also encourage PoCo residents to take part in workshops in late July and August (dates and times to be determined) to paint the tiles.

The artwork is expected to be unveiled in the lead up to Pride Week in mid-August.

Baylis said he’s excited to take on his first public art piece: The wrap around the fountain — below the concrete benches — will represent the LGBTQ2+ community while the individual tiles on the ground are meant to show the uniqueness of its members “who are confident to be themselves and stand out,” he said.

“I wanted to send the right message,” Baylis said. “I didn’t want it to be about me. It’s about having a place that’s accessible and engaging and colourful.”

A 2005 graduate of the the IDEA Program at Capilano University, Baylis studied art and design at Kwantlen University. He has exhibited at the Federation and Harrison galleries in Vancouver as well as the Firehall Art Centre, Seymour Gallery and Gallery Jones.

Last month, the painter had a solo display at the Ian Tan Gallery in Vancouver, titled Contemplated Realities. He was the senior art director at the Latitude Agency in Vancouver, until 2018.

PoCo’s Pride Public Art will be one of the first installations in B.C. to celebrate the LGBTQ2+ community. Last year, city council budgeted $17,500 for the project, steering away from the usual Pride symbol of a rainbow crosswalk.

Coquitlam’s rainbow crosswalk was painted last March, south of city hall, while Port Moody’s is set to go in later this month at NewPort Village. 

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