Artist Norm Williams sees red over art piece

An Abbotsford sculptor was surprised to see that an art piece he created in 2001 had been painted over in the downtown area.

Originally green

Originally green

Norm Williams was stunned when he discovered his artwork had been altered.

His farm-inspired bench art piece, which he created using an antique rake, has been painted red.

Originally the piece was green, with colour added to create the illusion of rust. But now, like other sections of the downtown core, it has been coated in crimson.

“I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it,” said Williams.

A well-known local sculptor, Williams has an extensive resume, including co-creator of Abbotsford’s unity statue, on display by city hall. Last year he made a large statue of Roger Neilson, the coach of the Vancouver Canucks who invented “Towel Power” during the NHL team’s 1982 playoff run. It is located in Vancouver, beside Rogers Arena.

Made in 2001, the bench is located on Essendene Avenue and  is named  Watching The Farm.

Williams sculpted a metal rooster, a farm dog and some mice to add to the antique rake to create the piece, which was sponsored by The Abbotsford News.Norm Williams

Williams compares the new “paint job” to an act of vandalism. He said the paint isn’t just on the rake, but across the woodwork and the mice. It also covered up his signature.

But the work will be restored.

Tina Stewart, executive director of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA), said they are working with Williams to set things right.

“That was completely done without the consent of the ADBA .. we did not know about it until after it was done and it is being restored back to its initial glory because it should definitely not have been done,” said Stewart.

The red paint seen elsewhere is part of an initiative to brighten up the downtown area.

“As far as the railings and the garbage cans and all of that, that was done by the ADBA with permission from the city. The city actually provided us with the paint for it.”

The light posts in the downtown area were already red and adding some other touches of colour seemed like a good idea.

The ADBA employed some locals to paint the fixtures. However, the bench was not supposed to be part of the plan.

Williams is pleased that the bench is going to be repaired.

“They are going to include me in every step,” said Williams, adding the ADBA and the city have been “incredibly supportive” throughout the process.