Harrison artist Max Newhouse is perhaps best known for his Canadian scenes: the RCMP musical ride, his reconstructions of the Canadian flag. This month, he finished another Canadian creation, this time of a parade in downtown Vancouver.
“A parade is a nice way of putting together what you would say would be a diverse, multicultural crowd,” Newhouse said, standing in his studio by the painting. “Because that’s who comes to a parade: pretty well everybody. Everybody that comes to Canada goes to a parade.”
The painting — which had to be finished on Aug. 5 although Newhouse was still working on it when The Observer visited at the end of July — is now on its way to the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children at the BC Children’s Hospital, after more than three months in Newhouse’s studio.
It will be turned into a digitized wall mural, and displayed where children being fitted for wheelchairs and prosthetics can see it.
The mural is the third Newhouse has done for the Children’s Hospital. The first was a painting of Whistler and the West Coast. The second was what Newhouse called a “cowboy scene” from the Interior. This time, Newhouse wanted to focus on a city scene — one that every kid could see themselves in.
“I hope they see themselves in that parade,” Newhouse said. “It’ll get their mind of different problems and things. It’s meant to distract.
“Paintings are sort of meant to help the child through the day,” he continued. “Sometimes they’ve got to be in that room six hours, all day when they’re fitting (the prosthetics and wheelchairs). You need distraction.”
Small elements in Newhouse’s painting indicates the different ways that patients and their families could see themselves in the mural: rainbow crosswalks for the LGBTQ community, women in hijabs among the crowd, parade-goers with different colours of skin, and of course, children in wheelchairs at the centre of the parade.
Newhouse had been “obsessing” over the painting since he was selected by the kids at the hospital to paint it.
“What I’m obsessing about is I want it to be the best I’ve ever done,” he explained.
Although the painting is finished, it will still be some time before it shows up on the walls of the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children. Newhouse isn’t sure exactly when it’s grand unveiling will be.
But he does hope that when it is unveiled, it will bring some joy to the kids there, and the opportunity to see their family at the parade.
“I want everyone to identify with what Canada is in this painting,” he said.