Hugo Bedard, artist and line cook at the Modern Café, created a design carrying a positive message – Stay Strong Nanaimo – on the plywood used to board up the front of the restaurant after it was closed by coronavirus social-distancing measures. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

‘Stay strong’ graffiti message offers encouragement in downtown Nanaimo

Boarded-up Modern Café regains some of its colour during COVID-19 pandemic

The Modern Café’s lights and neon signs have long been a bright spot in downtown Nanaimo, so things got dimmer when its owners closed to meet coronavirus social distancing standards and boarded up the front of the business with plywood.

Some of the building’s colour came back this week when an artist painted over the plywood with graffiti that read “stay strong Nanaimo.”

The slogan was adopted by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce for campaign to provide businesses with advice and information and share positive stories during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, according to Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce CEO, the Modern’s street art wasn’t part of any chamber promotion and the whodunit remained a mystery for several days until Wednesday. Smythe put queries out in the business community and discovered the artist was actually one of the Modern Café’s employees before it closed.

“After the Modern closed they were all bemoaning the fact of how lousy it looked outside,” Smythe said.

Hugo Bedard, the artist behind the unsigned work, who was also a line cook at the Modern Café, said it was the restaurant’s owner Daniel Caron who came up with the idea of brightening up the front of the building.

“He just sent me a text message saying that he wanted something based on Stay Strong Nanaimo and so I just drew it up,” Bedard. “He just said that whole front, that I could work with it.

Bedard said he started doing art in high school and already had an adequate supply of paint to do the work, which took about four hours to complete on Monday.

Hugo said he hasn’t had too much feedback on the work as yet.

“Really just from friends asking me if I did it because they know I like that kind of style of art, but nothing really too crazy,” he said.

As of Wednesday, no other boarded-up buildings, aside from the Urban Art Gallery on the former A&B Sound building at Commercial Street, Terminal Avenue and Victoria Crescent, had been graced with street art.

“Maybe it will start to be a thing in town,” Smythe said.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo merchants struggle to find a new ‘business as usual’ during COVID-19 pandemic



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lithium-ion battery fire damages suite in Nanaimo

One man displaced from home after battery for radio-controlled toy bursts into flame while charging

Nanaimo pianist and future doctor honoured for ‘excellence in culture’

Devon Joiner is among this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners

Volunteers on Vancouver Island checking in on seniors during pandemic

United Way reports 2,600 phone check-ins and 1,300 ‘virtual visits’

Nanaimo mayor, in his work as a lawyer, named in lawsuit over client’s will

Leonard Krog administrator of an estate being challenged under the Wills, Estates and Succession Act

B.C. Ferries says Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay sailings filling up fast

Tsawwassen-Duke Point may be a better alternative between June 4 and 7, says ferry corporation

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Beefs & Bouquets, June 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Cortes Island affordable housing project hangs by a thread

Regional decision makers resort to COVID-19 concerns despite virtual meeting option and push hearing to September

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

North Island recreation camping site closed due to vandalism

Damage happens every year, forcing site manager to reallocate improvement budget to repairs

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Most Read