Vancouver artist with Burnaby ties passes away

Burnaby muralist Todd Polich refers to Barb Wood
Burnaby muralist Todd Polich refers to Barb Wood's design for the mural depicting the Edmonds Christmas parade he painted on a 145-foot wall at the Rona store at Kingsway and Edmonds.

A Vancouver artist with a special connection to Burnaby has passed away.

Barb Wood was renowned for her whimsical and colourful paintings of West Coast life, historic buildings and street scenes. One of those scenes, of the Edmonds Christmas parade, was enlarged in 2009 by muralist Todd Polich to stretch along a 145-foot long graffiti-prone wall at the Rona store on the corner of Edmonds and Kingsway.

Wood based the mural's design on a series of greeting cards she created for the City of Burnaby.

Mayor Derek Corrigan said Wood's annual greeting cards go back at least 15 years after another artist, Jack Turpin, suggested Wood's style of painting would be a "novel" way for the city to commemorate some of its projects and accomplishments.

"She always had a unique perspective," said Corrigan. "Her work was accessible. People could identify with its bright colours and unique features. It was almost like animation."

Corrigan said Wood dropped by city hall often to catch up on new things happening in the city. Those would then become the basis for her annual greeting card commission.

"Each was a labour of love," said Corrigan. "A lot of thought went into everything she did. She planned, she researched, she tried to capture the essence. And she always came up with surprises that made people stop."

Corrigan said one of Wood's biggest commissions from the city was to create a special map that was presented to Burnaby's sister city, Kushiro, Japan. Wood was invited to accompany a delegation to the Far East.

"She was so proud, her buttons were just bursting," recalled Corrigan. "She always had a special love affair with Burnaby."

Wood is survived by her husband Don Hazleden and their two sons, Arthur and Roger.

A celebration of her life will be held in the Floral Hall at Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver on Monday, May 5, from 3-8 p.m. with a brief service at 7 p.m.


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