Gabrielle Strong is a Vernon-based artist who wanted to create a meaningful art installation in downtown Vernon.

Vernon Mosaic River to be unveiled

Artist Gabrielle Strong wanted to created a community-centric piece that paid homage to the environment and history.

Vernon-based artist Gabrielle Strong spent the last year creating an art piece that can’t be missed.

This “mosaic river” is a public art piece that was installed in Cenotaph Park in downtown Vernon. Though Strong completed the placing of the installation in mid-August, the official unveiling is scheduled for later this month.

Strong said it was installed in an almost “paint-by-numbers” project that was created throughout the last year, through a participatory public process, part of the North Okanagan RespectFEST 2017.

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FINISHED!🥂🍾We completed the grouting on Tuesday and the fences came down last night! 🙃 And honestly I don’t think I could’ve lasted another day – WOW, what a feat this was! It is SO amazing to finally see #mosaicriver realized… it’s hard to imagine that this (not so) little idea 💡I had has finally come to fruition and is a permanent part of Vernon!💧✨💫I owe big thanks to many people along the way who have helped me immeasurably (Rodney, Heidi, Glen, Cleo, @downtownvernon, Terry and the team @vernonarts…just to name a few🙏), and I am so grateful for all 250 (!!) of you from the community who came to my workshops and made your own piece of this artwork. 💙👌 I’m amazed by the talent in this town and it was fun to take you along this journey with me! The fences are down so go have a closer look at Mosaic River and see what can be created when we join forces!⚡️⭐️💥There will be an official unveiling ceremony towards the end of September and I’ll be sure to mention it here closer to the time! Until then, we are off to the UK for a much-needed vacation 😎✌️ . . . #mosaic #publicart #publicartinstallation #communityart #riverart #vernonbc #vernonarts #vernonmosaic #okanaganart #mosaicart #canadianartist #cityofvernon #cenotaphpark #downtownvernon #respectfest2017 #gabriellestrong

A post shared by Gabrielle Strong (@gabriellestrong) on

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Although Strong came up with the idea, she said the reasoning was to bring together the community while also paying homage to the environment and our history.

“For RespectFEST, I wanted to create a work of art that honours our local waterways in their natural state, before confederation and infrastructure,” said Strong. “Our need for water is the common thread that connects us all. It is my intention that this mosaic river acts as a reminder of what was here before, and becomes the fabric we weave together in mutual respect as a symbol of our community and its commitment to the environment.”

For Strong, the river has a powerful meaning.

“Moving water is more powerful than a concrete sidewalk, causing even the gentlest of streams to eventually polish the rocks it flows over; therefore my hope was that this artwork symbolizing the flow of water, will be powerful enough to inspire momentum in all of us to care more and join together to respect and protect our waterways.”

This project was funded, in part, by the Government of Canada, the Downtown Vernon Association and the City of Vernon. The artwork will be owned and maintained by the City of Vernon upon completion.

The official unveiling ceremony takes place Saturday, Sept. 22 and will include an opening prayer and smudge ceremony from an Okanagan Elder Mollie Bono, remarks from Mayor Akbal Mund, DVA Executive Director Susan Lehman, Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan Executive Director Annette Sharkey and principal artist Gabrielle Strong. It will also include a ribbon cutting and live acoustic performance by Kelowna-based singer/songwriter Michael Daniels.

Public Art Unveiling Ceremony schedule:

10 – 10:15 a.m. Opening Prayer and Smudge Ceremony by Mollie Bono (OKIB)

10:15 – 10:18 a.m. Remarks from City of Vernon Mayor, Akbal Mund

10:18 – 10:21 a.m. Remarks from DVA Executive Director, Susan Lehman

10:21 – 10:24 a.m. Remarks from SPC Executive Director, Annette Sharkey

10:24 – 10:34 a.m. Inspiration and processes from the principal artist, Gabrielle Strong

10:35 – 10:40 a.m. Ribbon-cutting and photo opportunity (City of Vernon, DVA, SPC & ABNC)

10:40 – noon Live performance from Michael Daniels

“It was quite an amazing feat to bring so many people together to make this,” said Strong. “I had this sort of crazy idea and it worked out better than I ever could have imagined. There are a lot of people in this community who have a piece of their heart in this project so that’s really neat,” Strong said.

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The Mosaic River will be officially unveiled Sept. 22.

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