It wasn’t the idyllic, snowy mountain hut trip they’d hoped for.
Revelstoke artists Natalie Harris, Jess Leahey, Nicola McGarry and Zuzana Riha left town to Hazel Hut in the Kootenays for a weekend in March with the goal of getting in some skiing and returning with inspiration for their art show.
Instead, they were met with pouring rain and dangerous avalanche conditions.
“I think we all went thinking we were going on a ski trip and we were going to get in field time and shred some really good snow and come home and do work, but we ended up creating so much work there,” said Leahey. “It worked out perfect because we ended up doing so much more.”
The results will be displayed this month at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre in a show that opens this Friday, May 5, at 6 p.m. It is one of four exhibits that will be on display at the gallery in May.
Going to Hazel Hut is like car camping in that you can drive right to it. Located on Highway 31, between New Denver and Kaslo, it’s surrounded by big forests and big mountains. Being able to drive there allowed the four women, and their chef Tara Harris, to bring in their art supplies along with their ski gear.
With skiing conditions being as poor as they were, the trip turned into something else, with the quartet traveling to the nearby ghost town of Sandon for inspiration. Instead of alpine sunsets, they explored the old growth forests in the valley bottom.
“It ended up quite serendipitous because even though the skiing was the worst, there was so much to do in that zone to be inspired,” said Leahey. “We ended up on a snowshoe holiday.”
The weather also meant they spent a lot of time cooped up inside the close confines of the hut. They created pieces while there, taking inspiration from each other instead of working on their art alone in their home studios afterwards.
For Leahey, a newer artist known for her black and white line paintings, the trip was an opportunity to learn from more established artists. Riha is a graduate of Emily Carr University who does paintings and wood carvings of landscapes and wildlife; McGarry is a painter who is now branching out after graduating from the Ontario College of Art & Design, and Harris is a photographer.
“These girls have so much more experience than myself so I was a sponge, trying to soak up everything,” said Leahey.
The hut was an open creative environment. Leahey said she worked on a large painting, wood burning and more. “To be there with four other people that are really good at this kind of stuff and try things and fail, and go on to the next thing and see what you can salvage is a really good experience,” she said. “It made it a really nice safe zone to try new things.”
The result is a diverse group of work by four artists working together and inspiring each other.
The Adventure Quencher opens at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre this Friday, May 5, at 6 p.m. The show runs until May 26. Three other shows will be on display: The Golden Girls — Looking Back; Re-imagining the Columbia, and The Salmon Connection by ArtStarts in Schools.
Read more about them:
Golden Girls: Looking back
The Golden Girls have been painting together for more than 14 years at the visual arts centre. This year’s theme is “Looking Back.” Each member has their own personal interpretation of the theme. Some have explored ideas of what life was like as a child, others have looked at their own art practice from the beginning and how they began as an artist, while other members are bringing out older works which were started but never finished, finally completing them for this exhibit.
Reimagining the Columbia
On May 13, there is an International conference hosted by First Nations and people on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border concerned with bringing environmental and ecosystem values into the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. This exhibition engages artists to discover and interpret the changes in the Columbia River that have occurred, with the coming of settlers, and the dam, and to re-imagine the Columbia.
The Salmon Connection
Sue Leach’s grade five students from Columbia Park Elementary class participated in the ArtStarts program this year. Along with artist Tina Lindegaard, students explored various aspects of the salmon, including life cycles, habitat, and contributions to the food web. This year-long study also included a look at the relationship of Aboriginal peoples with salmon, including ceremonies, art, food preparation, and the impact that hydro electric dams have had on salmon in the Columbia River. Students have created a series of works in a variety of media, such as felting, banner painting, and clay.