West Richmond celebrates 'new' building

Preschoolers lined up outside West Richmond Community Centre Wednesday morning in front of important people—like the mayor. All were celebrating the completion of $2.2 million in renovations to the popular centre, and this was the kids' moment.

They sang, and then dished on working with Jeanette Lee, an artist who engaged the youngsters to add character to an otherwise ordinary stairwell.

"I like how you did the artwork," said one.

There was applause.

"I like the artwork that I did with Jeanette," said another.

More applause.

"I like everything you made," shared one more.

Lee's artwork, Rising, is subtle, yet makes a statement, and has made an impression with young minds. Lee, who also worked with youth and other community centre users to contribute to the artwork, called it art that not only gives, but has brought a community together.

"This art has been a rich collaboration of our combined expression, and the results have brought much joy and excitement in creating the art that transforms a mundane stairwell space into something unique," said Lee. "They say that what we do for our community and the arts, we do for ourselves. This project was created by this community for this community, and I am so honoured to be a part of it."

The artwork began with an idea from preschool co-ordinator and teacher Emily Vera. Brainstorming sessions landed on a stairwell art feature that includes steel silhouettes, paintings and words of community centre users.

Lee said Rising aims to enhance the experience visitors have in their daily climb to classes and programs.

West Richmond Community Association president Rinat Sneg said it was heartwarming Lee's project brought together the community at a centre she's loved since coming to Canada a decade ago.

Renovations included work to the building envelope, lighting and kitchens, along with a container garden on the second-floor patio.

Association past-president Hans Havas called it "basically a brand new building."

Said Havas: "It's definitely a community effort, with strong support from the city."

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