One of Vancouver's most iconic areas is empty of tourists but has filled with art. Gastown murals have created a new art gallery that sprung up almost overnight, but instead of canvas, they're painting on boarded-up storefronts. The best part is, it's all posted online and free to view from home.

"The paintings allow just a minute of enjoyment and escape from the whole coronavirus thing," said Izzie Cheung, artist and recent respiratory therapist graduate, to Narcity.

The movement began when Kim Briscoe, owner of the custom framing and art shop Kimprints, opened her boarded-up windows as canvases for the art community.

Since then, the project exploded to include other businesses in the area, as well as a bunch of new artists. The Gastown Business Improvement Area (BIA) jumped to help, doling out paints, supplies, food vouchers for local businesses, and more.

However, organizers and artists are urging you not to visit, at least physically. All the work is available online, and organizers are asking you to enjoy from your own home.

"I would hate to see droves of people coming in to see this, even though I know the intention is good," said Cheung.

As the artwork starts rolling in, Gastown will be hosting most of the pieces on their Instagram. Be sure to check their page if you're in need of some cheering up.

Narcity has reached out to Briscoe and this article will be updated.

Cheung got involved after seeing her friend's work on Briscoe's windows a few days earlier. She'd graduated days earlier and finished orientation at Vancouver General Hospital, where she's among their newest RTs.

She'd just finished a busy night shift at her new job. Now, at 11 a.m. the very next morning, she's up and painting away on an empty board at Kimprints. Her subject? Three respiratory therapists.

According to Cheung, the art has really brought the community together.

"You can see everyone's smiling when they walk by and a lot of people that take photos and it's really good."

The whole project really seems like a testament to the resilience of the community. To take boarded-up windows and transform them into art.

The situation is serious, but we need to remember the good too. Whether it's cheering in the streets, virtual dance parties, or paintings on boarded-up shops, it's these things that remind us we're all in this together.

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