Colourful "Face of Vancouver" mural lost to coffeehouse patio construction

Dec 19 2017, 11:55 am

A colourful mural at Cambie Street and 18th Avenue that was created as a fundraiser less than a decade ago was torn down as part of the construction of a new patio for the JJ Bean cafe at that location.

Artist Teresa Waclawik began work on the “Face of Vancouver” mural on July 6, 2005, and finished it November 18, 2007. The piece was done as a fundraising project for Covenant House Vancouver.

The mural depicts 261 participants, including 15 dogs and 6 cats, with each face garnering a spot on the wall via donation of $100.

But the mural is no more.

The wall came down as part of the construction on a forthcoming location of the Vancouver-born coffee roaster and cafe JJ Bean.

Some pieces of the mural were salvaged and given to people in the Cambie Village community, reports the Sun.

JJ Bean owner John Neate has told the media his company followed the proper process for taking the wall down. Permits were secured from the city for the pair of large doorways providing patio access.

Neate told the Sun they discovered “all sorts of rot” once the wall was opened up, adding: “There was actually lots of weather damage to the exterior of the mural. It doesn’t look like it was sealed very well and there was no rain screen.”

Waclawick, who resides in Ottawa, is upset about the fate of her creation. She told the CBC: “It was my greatest achievement as an artist and then to see it destroyed in such an untimely manner, was shocking to me.”

The artist also spoke to the Vancouver Sun: “What kind of society do we live in where art goes to the city dump? […] If JJ Bean had bothered to talk to me or talk to the community we might have known what was going on and been able to save it.”

Waclawik also points out the mural was significant to the neighbourhood, thanks to how it lifted their spirits during the construction of the Canada Line.


Neate, however, objects to his being characterized as the villain. “[W]e’re now the bad guy … I feel sorry for the artist,” he told the Courier.

Ideas for how to represent the now-lost mural with the rubble that remains are floating around, including Waclawik’s offer of making a mosaic from the shards, or Neate’s pledge to put a photo of the mural in its glory up on the walls of the cafe.

A local blogger stumbled upon the mural in 2012
while out in the neighbourhood to see a film. She paused to take photos of the colourful artwork, and reflected on the power of public art: “Sometimes when you stop and take notice and pleasure in something small it really makes time stand still.”

[youtube id=”AthSyP2A4DQ”]

Featured image: @willajordan/Instagram