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CURRENT COLUMN

The Case of the Olympic Posters
The Case of the Olympic Posters

The Case of the Solitary Surrealist
The Case of the Solitary Surrealist

The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt
The Case of the Recalcitrant Rembrandt

The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity
The Case of the Ambiguity of Authenticity

The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys
The Case of Margaret Keane’s Big-Eyed Boys

The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard
The Case of Clarence’s Château-Gaillard

The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910
The Case of the M.S. Nov 1910

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of the Archangel Michael Defeating Satan

The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2
The Case of Cruise Ship Art: Part 2

The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light
The Case of Mary Most Holy Mother of Light

The Case of Leni and the Nuba
The Case of Leni and the Nuba

The Case of the Seductive Souvenir
The Case of the Seductive Souvenir

The Case of the Irish Surrealist
The Case of the Irish Surrealist

The Case of the Developing Dalí
The Case of the Developing Dalí

The Case of Nano-D Technology
The Case of Nano-D Technology

The Case of Dabatable Donations
The Case of Debatable Donations

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of the Long-tailed Monkey

Edgar Heap of Birds
The Case of Edgar Heap of Birds

Silent Song
The Case of the Silent Song

Aficionado
The Case of Alex and the Art Aficionado

Portrait
The Case of the Privacy of the Publicity Photo

Potter
The Case of the Potter's Portraits

The Case of the Coy Cornelius Krieghoff

The Case of the Political Portraitist

The Case of the Reconsidered Revolution

The Case of the Anabiotic Abbey

The Case of the Phoney Picasso

The Case of Setsuko Piroche

The Case of being on the Forest Edge with Vern Simpson

The Case of Being at the End of the Storm with Loren Adams

The Case of Being: Under the Table with Thomas

The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

The Case of A.Y. Jackson's Smart River (Alaska)

The Case of Red Fish with Blue Breasts

The Case of Looe Poole

The Case of Camaldoli

The Case of MS

The Case of the Misattributed Emily Carrs

The Case of the Doubtful Dürer

The Case of the Purloined Picasso

The Case of the Defrocked Duchess of Devonshire

The Case of the First Wife

The Case of the Dodford Priory

The Case of the Unknown Actor

Art Services & Materials


Confessions Back

Practical Art History
(or Confessions of a Fine Art Appraiser)

by Jim Finlay
James Finlay Fine Art Appraisals
jim_finlay@telus.net

Chapter 13. The Case of Wyland's Whales on Walls

I had been engaged by the building and mural's owner to appraise the artwork as demolition of the building was being considered as part of an urban renewal project. The owner was also considering relocating the mural or incorporating it into the new redevelopment proposal, however, reaction to the wall's (and mural's) possible demise was mixed. Some pondered, 'I'm not so impressed with it as a piece of art. It's just a way to cover a wall', while others fumed,'…. you don't burn books. Art is sacred'. Still others quipped, 'it's just another piece of advertising indirectly enhancing their (business) profit margins'.

Wyland Whales

Mural, part of The Orcas of Puget Sound Series, acrylic paint on cementicious ground on concrete block, image size approximately 9 x 14 metres, signed Wyland 84, left lower centre

The mural was a 1984 gift to the city from Californian marine artist (Robert) Wyland and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. It depicts a mother grey whale and her calf, along with a male escort, passing White Rock on their annual migration between Mexico and the Bering Sea.

Initially the mural had been proposed for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation building in Vancouver BC (the CBC graciously declined), and due to the tenacious efforts of the City of White Rock's planner, the project was re-located to the City of White Rock.

The Bank of B.C. which owned the building in 1984, was understandably hesitant about being associated with Wyland's Whaling Wall. Then, on the day of the unveiling, Bank Spokesman Gerrard O'Keefe indicated that at first the Bank was a little skeptical, but was 'tickled pink' to be part of it.

Unfortunately, since the unveiling, the mural has been the cause of at least one recorded motor vehicle accident when a young lady caught by the beauty of the whales, looked for a second too long. She wandered slightly in her lane, hit the concrete abutment, and wrecked her car.

There were those who claimed comparisons to billboard advertising saying that 'If your whales were tuna, your mural would only be a few words away from an ad for Starkist'. Still other dissenting voices claimed hucksterism and megalomania. The artist was portrayed as a 'transient illustrator with some time to kill and a truckload of free paint', and others pined, 'An unhampered view, a few trees, even an unadorned block wall would be better than this assault on our sensibilities'.

Wyland created the mural over a period of three weeks beginning around September 5, 1984. The official unveiling took place on September 29 and was attended by Wyland, Wyland's mother, Paul Watson (founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society), Gordon Hogg (Mayor of White Rock), and others. Approximately $2,000 was donated by Cloverdale Paint and Chemicals Ltd., and the Ocean Beach Hotel provided accommodation for Wyland whose meals were donated by local restaurants.

Wyland, who donated his time free of charge, worked with one assistant and from time to time, with local volunteers. A plaque was positioned across the street from the mural indicating that the mural was a ‘gift’ from Wyland and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to the City of White Rock.

Next: The Case of being, under the table with Thomas Anfield

 Thu, Feb 7, 2008