Talented artist proud to display his artwork on Osoyoos business storefront windows

By on December 23, 2015
Buckie Bates has enjoyed a terrific 40-year career painting windows and commercial signs and has spent the past couple of years sharing his artistic talent with local business owners, including this sign at the Osoyoos Home Building Centre on Main Street. (Keith Lacey photo)

Buckie Bates has enjoyed a terrific 40-year career painting windows and commercial signs and has spent the past couple of years sharing his artistic talent with local business owners, including this sign at the Osoyoos Home Building Centre on Main Street. (Keith Lacey photo)

For more than 40 years, Buckie Bates has used a different kind of artistic canvas – glass windows and commercial signs – to showcase his immense artistic talent.

For the past couple of years, several business owners in Osoyoos have hired Bates to decorate the storefront windows with Christmas greetings over the holiday season.

This year, Bates’ impressive artistic designs have adorned the front windows of several downtown business, including Elvis Fine Jewellers, Good Karma Restaurant, Osoyoos Home Building Centre and Shoe Biz.

Bates, who moved to Osoyoos seven years ago with his wife after spending close to 30 years working in the commercial sign business in Vancouver, said he knew at a very young age that he had artistic talent and that he wanted to make a living from that talent.

“I used to draw and paint all the time when I was a kid,” he said. “I always felt like art was in my soul.”

His older brother Morris enjoyed a long career as an Elvis Presley impersonator and he ended up “having the second-longest one-man show in Las Vegas next to Wayne Newton. My brother was like a hero to me because he had such a successful career in Las Vegas.

“My parents weren’t artistic, but they had three boys and we were all blessed with artistic talent.”

Bates’ father spent much of his working years not far from Osoyoos in Loomis, Wash.

“I was a young child when we lived in Washington, but my dad eventually packed up the family and moved to Williams Lake, which is where I spent most of my younger years up until about age 19.”

At age 19, he left Williams Lake and headed to California, where his brother Morris had settled after his career had finished in Las Vegas. He spent a couple of years there and eventually landed in Vancouver, where he got his start in the commercial sign business.

“I started off with hand painted signs … some of them would take weeks to finish,” he said. “I loved it right away.”

He got his first job after a childhood friend brought home some of his art, said Bates.

“Her dad happened to own his own sign business and he really liked my artwork. He mentioned that if I ever wanted a job, he would be interested. I took him up on his offer. Things just blossomed after that.’

Bates ended up becoming a freelancer and would paint large signs for huge cultural events like Billy Barker Days in Quesnel, B.C., Klondike Days in Edmonton, the Calgary Stampede and the Kelowna Regatta.

The biggest project he ever worked on was being part of a crew that did all of the commercial signage for The Rogers Centre in Vancouver, said Bates.

“The company I worked for did work at the Rogers Centre for more than 15 years,” he said.

He also worked on numerous television and movie projects in Vancouver throughout his career.

He ended up in Osoyoos because he spent many summers here on vacation.

“My wife’s dad bought a house here and we used to vacation in Osoyoos for about 25 years,” he said. “When we were looking to get out of Vancouver to enter into retirement, this is one of the first places we thought of.”

For about five years, Bates would continue to travel to Vancouver to find work in the commercial sign business.

He hasn’t travelled nearly as much the past two years.

“When I first moved to Osoyoos, I found it very hard to adjust to the slow pace,” he said. “I just wasn’t used to it. But as I spent more and more time here and got to know more people, I have come to love it. Now I have a hard time adjusting whenever I go back to Vancouver for work. I just can’t handle all the people and the traffic.”

While he doesn’t like to mention his age, Bates is proud he is pursuing an arts degree online through Thompson Rivers University.

“I’m getting close to my degree,” he said proudly. “I got 82 per cent on my last project. Not bad for an old guy.”

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

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One Comment

  1. lorijane Gundy

    December 13, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Your the best Bucky Bates. You make our lives so much better every day.

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