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Grand Forks Aquatic Center has ‘magical’ transformation with mural

A mural of a beloved local swimmer is up at the Grand Forks Aquatic Center.

Muralist Paul Archer recently completed a painting of James Dergousoff on the north wall inside the complex.

In an interview with Vista Radio, recreation supervisor Melina Van Hoogevest says they’re still getting compliments from people weeks after it was completed.

“James’ mom and his grandmother, they’re going to be coming and having a visit so we’re really excited for her to see the mural for the first time. What a neat experience to see your grandson on a huge wall in the local recreation center,” Van Hoogevest said.

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She says watching a staff idea transformed into a mural over five days was “magical.”

Archer started airbrush painting on Sunday, July 10 and completed the piece on Thursday, July 14, working during the afternoon but mostly at night. Van Hoogevest says it was “a highlight for staff” to see each morning what had transpired the night before.

“We had our swimming lessons running during the day so those moments when Archer was up on that wall working…those kids were able to just watch that art transform on our north deck wall and to be a part of it was super magical for them as well,” she said.

She says the painting is inspiring for all ages.

“It’s focused on aquatics, it’s focused on the swimming goals of an individual who kept trying and working towards the top and for us to have one of the top mural artists of the world doing that (painting) in our center is just incredible,” Van Hoogevest said.

James Dergousoff, who is a former aquatic center staff member, is currently training to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom. The games are from July 28 to Aug. 8.

Van Hoogevest says the painting, which cost $7,350, wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsorship from local doctor Mark Szynkaruk which was matched by the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

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