Public Art

The Reach works with skilled, professional artists and arts educators to develop art projects that create spectacle and engage our community in diverse and creative ways.


CITI/SEEN is an annual public art initiative that pairs an experienced professional artist with a team of talented emerging artists to create murals in Abbotsford. The program is part of Emerge, an incubator for creative talent at The Reach Gallery Museum. The program is generously supported by the RBC Foundation Emerging Artists Project.


The second CITI/SEEN mural was created in Bob Bos laneway at the back of Palmer & Palmer Law Offices. Lead Artist: Sean Karemaker. Artist Contributing Artists: Dona Park, Jay Rettich, Chantelle Trainor-Matties,  Natalie Scott.


Artists Statement

“Nature continues to humble us. As a species, humans must realize we are completely interconnected with the entire ecosystem.”

Changes in our behaviour resulting from COVID-19 have led to a significant reduction in global pollution. The inspiration for this mural comes from this heightened awareness of the interdependence of all lifeforms. The artists depict how everything in the natural world is connected, from sea to sky, mountains to tiny mushrooms, furry critters to lush groves.


The inaugural CITI/SEEN mural was created at the back of Hemingway’s Books in Historic Downtown Abbotsford.

Lead Artist:  Tara-Lynn Kozma-Perrin. Contributing Artists: Madeleine Hildebrandt, Joshua Koole, Alayna Tam & Rio Zapata.


Artists Statement
Before colonization, two streams used to converge in the area where the mural is today. The patterns in the mural resemble fish scales and reed mats which pay homage to the history of the land and its Indigenous inhabitants. The text is drawn from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Brook.” According to the memoirs of Abbotsford resident Margaret Dunlop Hutchinson, she and her classmates would recite the poem beside the streams.

Reasons by Ericka Walker

Ericka Walker
Reasons, 2017
Exterior latex paint (wall mural)

During the summer of 2017, The Reach presented an exhibition of prints by Ericka Walker entitled The Great Experiment. During this time Walker also worked closely with the members of Royal Canadian Legion Abbotsford Branch #15 (2513 W Railway St.) to create a sixty-foot mural on the south side of the building. The project was supported by funding from Arts Nova Scotia.

Artist Statement
There are many reasons people choose to enlist. There are many reasons that veterans seek out the company of other veterans, just as there are many reasons to join the Royal Canadian Legion. There are many reasons we feel driven to publicly commemorate and remember those who have fought in our wars, and commemoration can take as many forms: books and stories, monuments, cenotaphs, ceremonies, holidays. Sometimes commemoration brings a country to a deeper understanding of a difficult history, and sometimes it simply offers people permission to avoid having to think about it for another year. There are many reasons Canada has gone to war, and as many reasons to be critical of those wars.

There are three WWII-era aircraft depicted in this mural. The first, in the foreground on the left hand side, is the Fairchild Cornell, the primary trainer aircraft used under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. These aircraft were used at the No. 24 Elementary Flying Training School at the Abbotsford Airfield. Behind the Cornell is the Hawker Hurricane. Thousands of these single-seat fighters were produced in Canada during the war. Their production was led by BC-born Chief Aeronautical Engineer Elsie MacGill. MacGill was the first female graduate of electrical engineering, the first woman to earn her Master’s degree in aeronautical engineering, and the first practicing female engineer in Canada. The third aircraft, depicted on the far right side of the mural, is the B-24 Liberator Bomber. The Liberator was used to train flight crews as part of the #5 Operational Training Unit at the Abbotsford Airfield. Many men lost their lives in training missions in this region.

About the Artist
Ericka Walker was born in Hartford, Wisconsin, USA. She received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her work has been included in numerous domestic and international exhibitions and biennials, as well as public, teaching, and private collections in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia. She currently teaches studio coursework in printmaking as an assistant professor in the Fine Arts Division at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

Rainforest by Gordon Ferguson

Gordon Ferguson
Rainforest, 1986
120 x 150 x 72 in.

Rainforest was designed in response to a call for public outdoor sculptures to be constructed and exhibited at Expo ‘86 in Vancouver. It was sponsored and presented as a gift from “Pioneers who settled in British Columbia from Punjab, India.” The piece was fabricated in Vanier Park during the summer of 1986 where visitors were invited to watch the construction process and interact with the artist. The piece consists of a group of blue steel poles on a tilted platform, angled in a way to suggest the sense of driving rain amongst trees. Interspersed among the pipe components are various objects associated with forestry: a crosscut saw, a baseball bat, a ladder, an axe, a house. The intention is to merge the visual sense of driving rain with trees and objects associated with forestry. In 2011 the sculpture was loaned by the City of Vancouver to The Reach to coincide with the opening of the exhibition The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social. The sculpture remains on the grounds and can be seen on the Trethewey Street side of the building.

About the Artist
Gordon Ferguson was born in High River, Alberta and spent most of his career as head of the Department of Sculpture at the Alberta College of Art & Design where he is now Professor Emeritus. Ferguson describes his artworks as “concerned with physics, matter and motion” and his practice considers the manufacture of consumer objects, constructed environments, and hierarchies of value in contemporary culture. He is best known for his large sculptural installations and public works of art.

Ramble: Art Outdoors

A series of socially engaged, pop-up art events that took place around Abbotsford during the summer of 2018. The Reach worked with skilled, professional artists and arts educators to develop art projects that created spectacle and engaged our community in diverse and creative ways. Each of the three projects created a temporary, interactive art destination and culminated in a collaborative work of art.


Lantern Performance

    Inspired by Abbotsford’s natural and cultural history, puppet artist Randi Edmundson and her team of puppet makers created a 16’ illuminated sturgeon puppet, affectionately named “Barb.” On August 9th Barb made her debut during a stunning performance by the Calvin Dyck Youth Orchestra. The luminous puppet was accompanied by hundreds of children who formed a glittering imaginary river from the small lanterns they made at community workshops hosted by The Reach throughout the summer.  

Human Loomin’

Shannon Thiesen and Chelaine Froese are artists and educators at ASIA North Poplar in Abbotsford. Human Loomin’ took place at Highstreet Shopping Centre over the course of a weekend in August. Using vibrant material blooms, the artists invited the public to “colour in” large-scale chicken wire sculptures. Each colour was assigned to a particular piece of statistical information about our community. For example, the colours used in the human form represent the languages spoken in Abbotsford. These brightly coloured sculptures are visual representations of our community composition.

Stoney Creek Project


  Jay White grew up in Abbotsford and attended Robert Bateman Secondary School as a teenager. Working with students, local residents, scientists, and others Jay traversed Stoney Creek, which runs past Bateman School to the Fraser River, collecting knowledge, stories, and memories about the steam and the surrounding area. This information has been added to a twenty foot map hand-drawn map as a collaborative record of interactions between humans, wildlife, and the natural environment.