Matty Hillman has turned up the volume on public art with his latest creation for the annual Nelson International Mural Festival.
An instructor in the School of Health & Human Services, Hillman spends his summers pursuing his passion for both expression and the type of art that has its roots firmly planted in urban settings. Found in the 300 block of Nelson’s Victoria Street, “The Block is Hot” is a visually stunning creation that is one of the highlights of the 2019 festival.
“Graffiti is one of the four elements of hip hop culture, represented here by the quintessential neighbourhood block blaster… the boom box,” says Hillman, whose artist persona is Matty Kakes. “This mural also captures a mix of rural and urban themes, not unlike Nelson itself, while highlighting the strong music scene found in the Kootenays. I really wanted to produce a piece that reminds the viewer of the roots of mural art works in Western urban settings. It challenges the notion that a mural as public art is appropriate, while other creative expressions like graffiti are deemed vandalism.”
Selkirk College Instructor Matty Hillman (aka Matty Kakes) at his latest public art creation in the 300 block of Nelson’s Victoria Street.
Hillman is a Selkirk College alumnus, a veteran child and family practitioner, and inspiring instructor with a focus in the Child & Youth Care Diploma Program. When he is not in the classroom, Hillman can be found at his sketchpad and with a finger on the spray paint can.
The boom box mural was painted in four days earlier this summer where he was able to incorporate some his passion for education in a different setting.
“It's always interesting and a privilege to create in public space,” says Hillman, who also manages to balance a family life that includes his toddler daughter. “I usually get substantial engagement from the public, which I really enjoy. I try to meet and speak to the people who frequent the area. I want to understand what people are seeking in the space, be it a park, alley, or business.”
A Weekend Celebration of Artistic Expression
The Nelson International Mural Festival is an annual event put on by the Nelson District Arts Council (NDAC). With enthusiastic support from municipal government, local businesses and a number of community organizations, the mural festival has transformed bland walls in Nelson into canvases for awesome artistic expression.
This year’s festival includes eight new murals that can be found in several locations around the community. The festival also includes a weekend celebration of creativity which takes place August 16 to 18. This year’s events include a Hall Street Plaza Party on Friday complete with a 5:30 p.m. opening ceremony and evening slate of musical entertainment. Saturday’s music and entertainment schedule starts at 2 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. There is also workshops that go all weekend long.
“The festival acts as a mediator between artists and city bureaucracy when planning projects,” says Hillman, who has several murals around Nelson from previous events. “Mural festivals are great in that they promote more murals going up; however, they should also engage the public to better understand street art and graffiti culture as well as provide a platform for diverse, nascent artists.”