Does it get any better?

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Lorne Eckersley

Over the years I have written a number of columns describing “perfect moments”, sometimes extending those moments into hours or even a day. The phrase is my own little tribute to the late and lamented monologuist, Spalding Gray. I hadn’t thought of him for years, but after a Saturday of visiting art shows around the valley, and a Saturday in which the sun poked out, at that, I was reminded of the phrase.

I started out in the noon hour, driving out Lower Wynndel Road and onto Indian Road to visit the lovely Eileen Hirota and her always beautiful gallery. We have been admirers of Eileen since shortly after she arrived in Creston. As I moved through the doorway the first person I noticed inside was Len Parkin, a friend who played a vital role in making the Creston Farmers’ Market the important institution it is today, and in paving the way for Fields Forward, which I write about elsewhere in this issue. Len has recently put together some college classes based on his past experiences in the health field. I mention this, because only a few weeks ago I learned that Eileen is stepping away from her art business to return to her roots as a counselor. She, too, will put her focus on the health of people in the community. After chatting with both Len and Eileen, I was pleased to learn they are going to team up in some way, and I look forward to writing that story early next year.

Next stop was West Creston, where the amazing Carole Schloss was hosting a sale in her century-old Solstice Barn. It was a treat to catch up with Carole and to stand with her in under almost-bright skies to reminisce about the beautiful property that she so loves. The tiny creek that meanders through the yard was burbling away, and I was transported back to when I visited years ago to interview the brilliant pastel artist. There is a grace about this talented and energetic woman, who is equally as happy tending her garden and elderberry bushes, raising chickens and keeping bees, as she is putting pastel to canvas. She is a treasure in this bountiful chest we call the Creston Valley.

Returning to Creston, I made a stop at Kunze Gallery, where a crowd of friends was gathered. What Sandy and her husband Dirk have accomplished since summer with the elevator annex is remarkable, and it has become a great asset to Creston. Sandy pointed out some of the new works on display—the smile-inducing Cirque du Poulet, mermaid and Marie Antoinette clay art pieces by Andrea Revoy, the lovely little clay sculptures by Sandra Grace Storey of Whitehorse, the captivating blown coloured glass icicles by Jeff Holmwood, the latest fired glass creations by Sarah Miller, and more.

Another featured artist, Maggie Leal-Valias was working in the gallery, and she excitedly explained that a glorious little Sweetgrass Bear, carved from black granite by Stewart Steinhauer, would be sold by silent auction next week to raise funds for the Creston Valley Public Art Connection, which is working to bring more public art to the area.

That evening we headed down the hill to Puffin Design, where owners Alison and Bart Bjorkman were opening their doors to host a reception to introduce the latest paintings by yet another of our valley’s treasures, Alison Masters. The show, called If the Shoe Fits, Wear It! runs for the next week, and it is well worth taking in. Paintings of shoes and boots are responsible for the name, but others from Alison’s collection are on display, including some very cool paintings she has done in the Crowsnest Pass. About 300 people dropped in to Puffin Design through the evening, and they also got a look at some of Alison Bjorkman’s rejuvenated furniture—beautifully reupholstered chairs that are art works in themselves—and Bart’s wonderful concrete work that includes table tops and sinks. The shop was tastefully lit, with the aid of Bart’s creative repurposing of old objects into lamps.

After two consecutive weekends in Alberta, one a planned visit with family and the second to attend a family funeral, it was good to be home.

Part of what made the day so satisfying was seeing so many artists making the effort to get out and see what their cohorts are up to. For me, it was a perfect day of witnessing the creative forces among us and having countless chats with some of my favourite people. And to put another extended perfect moment into my already filled-to-the-brim memory bank.