Thousands of aluminum tiles now shimmer in the sun, displaying the familiar topography of the River City through the mosaic Community Confluence, which is wrapped around the Lansdowne Street parkade.
The City of Kamloops celebrated the completion of the newest piece of public art on Friday outside the parkade with the unveiling of a plaque and speeches from artist Bill Frymire, Deputy Mayor Kathy Sinclair and Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association executive director Carl DeSantis.
“Who would have imagined this parking structure would become a canvass and a way to continue the city’s beautification plan?” Sinclair told a crowd of about 40 people gathered for the event.
“Just know that your vehicles are wrapped by beauty for the time you’re here,” DeSantis said.
The art piece features a bird’s-eye view of the rivers that carve out Kamloops and is composed of 80,000 powder-coated aluminum tiles, which come in three sizes and 20 colours and represent the population of Kamloops.
The tiles are fashioned to a metal wire mesh, grouped together in large diamond shapes of hues that fade into each other.
“That’s kind of the way I see society working and the city working, where people can be part of one community group and another one and there’s some interaction in between,” Frymire said.
The 7,000 tiles that form the rivers are kinetic and refractive, mimicking the movement and shimmer of water when touched by the sun and wind.
The concept behind Community Confluence is to illustrate both the joining of the rivers and the gathering of people around them, Frymire said.
“The density of the tiles is more towards the centre, where the two rivers meet up,” he said.
Frymire said the tiles are clustered together near the confluence of the rivers and more sporadic the farther out they are, representative of Kamloops’ population density.
The local artist has completed other mosaics, but nothing of this scale to date.
The mosaic, which was in development throughout the spring as crews worked to fasten each tile, is 37 feet tall and 356 feet wide and covers three of the parkade’s four sides.
Frymire described the project as a communal effort.
“I tried to use local people to create [it],” he said. “We had everyone from 15-year-old students to my 91-year-old dad working on the project.”
Frymire’s second-largest project depicts indigenous species of frogs and turtles for the Borden Natural Swimming Pool in Edmonton. He is also the artist behind the 16-foot mosaic on the fence of the outdoor basketball court at TRU, depicting Kamloops NBA star Kelly Olynyk.
Community Confluence cost about $166,000.
Frymire said he is proud of the artwork and hopes the city is as well, noting he has heard many positive comments about his creation.