Margaux Allard

Margaux Allard

Bus tour visits five Creston Valley galleries

Web Lead

  • Aug. 27, 2011 6:00 p.m.

How do you top the three-hour art gallery tour described in the July 30 issue of the Creston Valley Advance? Well, how about adding a full glass of wine and a visit to five different galleries?

Twenty local residents and visitors gathered last Thursday afternoon to kick off the latest tour, one that would feature five artists from the west side of Creston, Lower Wynndel Road and Wynndel. But first, the Baillie-Grohman Winery tour, which was expanded from one to one-and-a-half hours to allow participants to enjoy a glass their preferred wine before boarding the bus.

Winery owner Bob Johnson took the group into the winery, where he described the differences in making red and white wines. Red wines, he explained, are kept in contact with their skins during the initial fermentation process. Skin contact imparts both colour and tannins to the final product.

In making white wines, juice is pressed from the grapes and pumped immediately into temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to ferment. Red wines are typically aged in oak barrels and whites in the steel tanks, with the exception of Chardonnays, which benefit from aging and a secondary fermentation in older oak barrels.

After a quick visit to the vineyard to learn about the different varieties — including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Kerner — the group sampled each of the five wines available, including the two distinctly different vintages of rosé, which is made from Pinot Noir grapes that were left on the skins until they gave the juice a pale red colour.

After a half-hour of socializing and sipping a glass of wine, tour participants boarded the Creston Valley Transit System bus and headed into Creston to visit Krazy Kat Lady studio and gallery. The home-based business features gardens that had visitors oohing and aahing, and similar reactions were heard inside the gallery, where legally blind Margaux Allard shows her finely detailed pencil drawings, ornately decorated masks and paintings that look like they are designed for Tim Burton movie sets.

A short drive then took the group to the backyard studio of Allison Masters, who finds time to be a prolific painter when she isn’t tending to her inspiring garden (gardens and art are a recurring theme on these tours). Masters had on display, inside and outside the gallery, about two dozen works in progress, paintings from sketches she made on an 800-kilometre walk along one of the pilgrimage routes to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela.

The “poster series” as she calls it, is intended to create a visual tour of some of the highlights of that long hike. Painting from sketched ideas is a departure from her normal plein air approach in which she paints outdoors.

Crusher Road was the next destination, where retired Prince Charles Secondary School teacher Ute Bachinski works in watercolour and pastels as well as creating strikingly beautiful fabric hangings and quilts. Bachinski smiled as two former students, now ages 28 and 31 and residing in Alberta, filed in with their wives.

Once again the group reboarded the bus and heard commentary provided by Canyon’s Simon Lazarchuk. The next stop, he said, would be the Galvanized Art Gallery at the home of Sandy and Dirk Kunze, who were instrumental in organizing the bus tours.

“It’s exciting to see that people really enjoy visiting galleries around the Creston Valley on these bus tours,” Sandy said. “I hope they can continue in the future.”

Kunze works mainly in acrylics and clay, but Galvanized Art Gallery is filled from floor to ceiling with a stunning variety of pieces, including creations from found objects, prints and fabric. Featured on one wall are many of the aprons made from women’s undergarments that Kunze made into a 2010 calendar as a fundraising project.

The final stop was a visit to the gallery and Japanese gardens of Eileen Hirota, whose rich multi-media pictures have become a popular fixture on the Creston art scene. In addition to her own works, Hirota’s gallery also includes pottery made by her brother, who lives in Castlegar, and Canyon clay and fabric artist Bea von Allmen.

More winery and gallery bus tours are being offered in the coming weeks. For information and tickets drop into the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce on North-west Boulevard or call 250-428-4342.