Victoria artist Paul Archer, borrowing a friend’s guitar, mimics his recent rendering of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen behind his Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats are striking for their realism, painted the likeness following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Victoria artist Paul Archer, borrowing a friend’s guitar, mimics his recent rendering of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen behind his Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats are striking for their realism, painted the likeness following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

Ask Victoria-based airbrush artist and rock and roll art specialist Paul Archer about late rock virtuoso Eddie Van Halen and the typically upbeat 60-year-old strikes a sombre tone.

A longtime fan of the iconic guitarist, Archer says news of Van Halen’s Oct. 6 death, after a lengthy bout with cancer, hit him hard. He was wrapping up a massive mural project in Grand Forks, B.C. and vowed to be the first street artist to muralize the musical legend.

“When we lose somebody really important on the planet, whether it’s a celebrity or an athlete or somebody or something that everybody was inspired by – even Takaya the wolf – I like to do a tribute or a memorial,” Archer says.

READ ALSO: Victoria artist commemorates Discovery Island wolf Takaya with mural

A few weekends back he worked feverishly to produce a lifelike rendering of the rock icon in action, wielding his trademark red-with-white-stripes guitar and wearing matching overalls. A cinderblock wall behind Archer’s Fort Street gallery is the canvas for the two-storey high airbrushed painting.

The mural has attracted international attention on social media, and many people familiar with Archer’s local paintings of rock icons have stopped by to check it out.

One local musician who was inspired by Van Halen’s revolutionary playing style in the late 1970s and mourns his passing, was excited to be photographed with the giant image of his guitar hero. Tomo Vranjes has been in bands in Victoria roughly 40 years and says he still injects Van Halen’s intricate fingerings into his guitar solos.

“I was going a little bit of the punk way [originally] and then I heard [Van Halen] and I said, ‘I want to play like that guy,’” Vranjes recalls. “I think Van Halen brought rock and roll back.”

Archer says Van Halen was “like a Mozart, like a Beethoven of our era and a lot of people don’t even know that.”

But the artist was not just an admirer, he has very personal treasured memories of the man.

In 1980 Archer was a stagehand at the old Memorial Arena, when the band Van Halen was on tour in Victoria. He was building a light assembly on stage before the show when something caught his eye.

“All of a sudden these bright shoes and bright pants walked right up to where I was working – I was smoking at the time – and Eddie Van Halen says, ‘you got another smoke?’”

Archer obliged and the two got chatting. Van Halen had heard Victoria was “like little England,” and wanted fish and chips. Archer recommended a shop downtown and was ready to provide directions, but was stunned when Van Halen said, ‘no, no, you’re coming.’

READ ALSO: Touching scene with veteran inspires Victoria artist to paint Remembrance Day series

The two chatted for over an hour at the eatery about all manner of things, Archer says.

Later on at the arena, Archer nodded to Van Halen, who was tuning his guitars. The rocker invited his lunchmate in, chatted more and gave him a handful of personalized guitar picks – Archer says they’re worth quite a bit today. The crewman assumed a guitar tech would take the instruments onstage, but Van Halen asked him, ‘do you wanna do it?’

”I said ‘absolutely!’ So I got to haul both of his guitars and carry them up on stage,” Archer says with a grin. He crossed paths with Van Halen and the band twice more working their shows in Vancouver.

On the weekend of the mural painting Archer battled rain and cold, using tarps and heaters to keep the elements from affecting his precious project. It was a labour of love, he says, and was completed to a soundtrack of Van Halen music.

“When I’m painting someone that has passed … I can almost feel them, with the music in the background and you’re working, it’s almost like they’re there. And that’s what it felt like when I was doing the Eddie one.”

Find the mural off Broughton Street behind Archer’s gallery at 847 Fort St.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

don.ddescoteau@blackpress.ca

MusicVisual Arts

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tourists are being asked to postpone their non-essential trips to Tofino as COVID-19 cases rise across Vancouver Island, but at least one accommodation provider is offering conflicting messaging. (Westerly file photo)
Victoria woman says Tofino Airbnb host encouraged travel despite provincial restrictions

“The only way I would get a refund is if she would be able to rebook the suite for that weekend.”

Victoria police are asking for the public’s help locating Alexander Stokes, 19. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police searching for missing teen

Police looking to ensure safety of Alexander Stokes, 19

Cory Resilient was trapped in a cycle of homelessness for about six years before applying for residency at Anawim House, a sober recovery home in Victoria. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay Talks goes online with homelessness

Existence Project brings Cory’s Story to Oak Bay

A Victoria-based orthopedic surgeon has been reprimanded after using sexualized language during a surgical consult with a pre-teen patient. (Pixabay)
Victoria doctor fined and reprimanded for calling pre-teen patient a ‘loose woman’

Dr. Bruce Taro Yoneda admitted to using sexualized language in surgical consult

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest man covered in blood on heels of significant Saanich crash into woods

Resident calls in home invasion in progress after crash

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Product Care offers more than <a href="http://link.mediaoutreach.meltwater.com/ls/click?upn=pDYyTceU0YgTDdsd92GohdQJsmSiPFEkcB4MdMM0Qkoqb1aJA-2By5aWklKJXV6QRdyTteNjr2FccUOVLUe4t5Zw-3D-3D1ds-_KVyBcpjXADXifSWVpM8nQcAzSm9-2B6fEFnjVrTsOcu31irDHDxi5k0QTOIWCqMXUxaNbrf0yRzXSSpROCkfx3NkUtbr65Dkcw1J0by-2F-2BDdDiJGbcfhtjHWYSs66NwakeCCLYkj20e9ICIZsLcedqNZKBhsN0sGgBsInpdzsddYikUZkmQvFdxLJhakpgAA6aAJ5ScUoWR6vO9sM819vRB-2F6x7dsdfIaWa4ZgHxR4G7hauxgSJCsNI2bP5J62EFfM0aiDqRPwUPUjt7i5-2FMqpdJxrEBewnLky-2B3lE0JAmi5UsJBkJejuLOjsndZz4b7dNgbvt6KyewKuF0sxU2rpYgkAO9YAKc9STuFJd28Qn7jE0-2FqlB8HKOvpW150NHS-2BOMBcK5rkZ8YAuPqJy11k-2BgndiKB-2FWl2icAfbWtRGJPb8fM-3D" target="_blank">150 free drop-off locations</a> in B.C. (Pixabay.com)
Recycling broken or burnt string lights can reduce holiday landfill waste

In 2019, Product Care Recycling diverted more than 11.6 million light bulbs from landfills

Helen Watson, posing for a photo for her 100th birthday, turned 105 on Saturday (Nov. 21). (File photo)
B.C. woman who survived Spanish Flu turns 105

Helen Watson has packed a lot into life – including being in two pandemics

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. to test emergency alert system on cell phones, TVs, radios on Wednesday

The alert is part of a twice yearly test of the national Alert Ready system

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Most Read