A Cultural Perspective: The art in my backyard

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As a newcomer to the community of Creston and the arts community in general, I have been discovering just how true it is that the Kootenays inspire creativity in the people who live in them.

Once the dust settled on my 2010 move from the Fraser Valley, I decided the best way to get to know my new communities was to become a part of them. Memberships in the Creston Art Club and the Community Arts Council of Creston seemed to be the best way to satisfy both. In the fellowship found through painting, I became aware not only of my personal desire to develop as an artist, but also a desire to help develop, maintain and be a part of a vibrant arts community, I found I had gone beyond my passion for painting and found a passion for the arts as a whole.

I have learned that one of the beliefs of the arts council is that a community functions better with access to art and culture. One of the results thanks to this belief is the sponsorship of Art in the Library. This ongoing free art exhibit featuring local artists can be viewed at the Creston and District Public Library during operating hours. Art in the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce, another sponsored, free exhibit is for non-traditional art from the valley. Spirit Fest, Arts and Culture Week, Artwalk and the Artistic Visions summer art market are just a few of the other projects that were sponsored by the arts council this year. As an artist it was wonderful to have an opportunity to exhibit at all these events and I hope as an art council member that I can be a part of developing more opportunities and venues for visual art displays

Another art council belief is that its role is to facilitate processes that provide support services, resources, education, communication, development, advocacy, recognition, awareness and any other services to art and culture. To that end, it administers Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance project funds, provides grants in aid to various group and individual artistic projects, subsidizes Prince Charles Theatre rentals, provides member group assistance and works with groups and individuals on Columbia Basin Trust grant applications. It provides access to visual and performing arts workshops and courses throughout the year, in addition to what is available via individual artists, the College of the Rockies or the Creston and District Community Complex.

Through my membership with the arts council, I have discovered that the groups and individual members of the council are as diverse as the community in general. You will find everyone from Pat Yarema with her studio/gallery in West Creston to the GoGo Grannies at monthly member meetings. The Creston Art Club, the quilters guild, the lapidary club, CIDO radio, the Creston Museum, the Creston Concert Society, Footlighters and the Creston Valley Music Teachers Association are just a few of the group members for 2011. Some of the individual members for 2011 include Simon Lazarchuk, our current president, Maureen Cameron, Frank Goodsir, Malcolm Ferguson and Harry Miller.

I am an individual with eclectic tastes, loving everything from Mozart to Monty Python so, it is wonderful to go to a concert; the Creston Concert Society’s 2011-12 season began Oct. 1. I love the performing arts, especially theatre, so I’m eagerly awaiting the Footlighters production of Aladdin on Dec. 1, 2 and 3. I’m also working to pluck up the nerve to try my hand at making others laugh, during open stage night at the Snoring Sasquatch (I am funny — I really am).

I should probably join the Lapidary Club since I use stone as my artistic medium. I really need a carbon footprint (I’m a professional pedestrian), if for no other reason than to attend the cultural events and festivals throughout the year in outlying communities such as Yahk.

If you are an art hound like me, you’ll want to check out arts council’s annual Christmas craft fair on Nov. 26, the library show featuring Val Van Der Poel until Nov. 19, with the Creston Fabric Artisans through to Jan. 14. And there’s Elementals at the chamber of commerce, a display of art featuring the mediums of wood, metal, clay and glass from Nov. 16 through mid-January.

Lori Wikdahl is a Creston Valley artist and a director on the Community Arts Council of Creston board.