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Creston art gallery celebrates Indigenous collaboration inside renovated grain elevator

A grand opening for the elevator, Indigenous art studio was held on June 2
Indigenous artist Mark Jacobson poses with co-owners Sandy and Dirk Kunze in front of the Kunze Gallery. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

To celebrate the grand re-opening of Creston’s grain elevator, Kunze Art Gallery also announced a new artistic collaboration.

In 2021, Columbia Basin Trust purchased the iconic elevators and began a conservation project to make one of the historic structures look like new again.

READ MORE: Work on Creston grain elevator to be completed this year

Sandy and Dirk Kunze, co-owners of the gallery that operates inside, are thrilled with building’s face lift.

“They did a great job of redoing it, basically back to what it looked like in 1936,” said Dirk.

The newly renovated grain elevator in Creston. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
The newly renovated grain elevator in Creston. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

This year, the couple hopes to create more of a collaborative hub with an Indigenous theme, by welcoming artist Mark Anthony Jacobson into the fold.

“We want to start drawing people into the circle,” said Kunze. “Everybody’s got a different idea of what reconciliation is and what it means to them, but I think it’s really the only way forward. A circle of co-operation and togetherness.”

At the grand opening of the gallery on June 2, Jacobson marked the beginning of the new partnership with a smudging and adoption ceremony in which the Kunzes became a part of his family and Thunderbird tribe.

Jacobson hopes that by inviting the community to partake in the smudging ceremony, it helps to bridge the gap between cultures.

“We understand that there is a history here of colonialism that has tried to separate us all,” he said. “I feel like we need to come together so that we can bridge those relationships and make things much better for each and every one of us today, but also for the future. We have an obligation to the children of the future.”

Throughout the gallery, it’s hard to miss Jacobson’s work. His pieces are bright and colourful, showcasing Indigenous representations of animals.

The art of Mark Anthony Jacobson. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
The art of Mark Anthony Jacobson. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

“My art is like medicine art,” he said. “These paintings are like sacred scrolls. I talk to Mother Earth, and I ask the animal clans for help so that they can help inspire me to communicate the images that I create on canvas. Colour is very healing and therapeutic.”

The Kunze Gallery also features the work of other local artists from paintings to sculptures, some Indigenous and some not.

“I felt like this partnership with [Sandy and Dirk] is really about truth and reconciliation,” Jacobson said. “For me, I want my brothers and sisters who are non-Indigenous, to feel a part of who I am. The movement needs to be about friendship, understanding, and compassion.”

To see more, join the Jacobson Native Art group on Facebook or visit

READ MORE: Creston announces 2023 Citizens of the Year

Kelsey Yates

About the Author: Kelsey Yates

Kelsey Yates has had a lifelong passion for newspapers and storytelling. Originally from Alberta, she graduated from SAIT Polytechnic's journalism program in 2016.
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