Collaboration builds art trails

Shuswap District Arts Council and Shuswap Trail Alliance have mixed it up for the July exhibition, which opened on June 30

  • Jul. 6, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Artist Keith Stephens paints as fast as he can to create an original piece in only 20 minutes during the first round of Art Wars held at Meikle Studios on Saturday

Shuswap District Arts Council and Shuswap Trail Alliance have mixed it up for the July exhibition, which opened at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery on June 30.

Trail Mix is the result of a year-long project that involved 15 teams of artists, photographers and guides who went out and experienced the regional trails in all seasons and are telling that story visually in an exhibition that runs  to Aug. 27.

“Two on-site installations at Mt. Baldy Trail and Raven Trail will delight hikers and cyclists,” said director/curator Tracey Kutschker in early June. “All art is storytelling, and this project aims to tell diverse and meaningful stories derived from a physical response to the landscape,” she says.

Unfortunately, a painting of a raven so lovingly captured by artist Karen Raven and displayed on the Raven Trail, was stolen in the week prior to the exhibition opening.

The art had been attached to the side of the outhouse building at the trail head.

A photograph of her work appears in a new Trail Mix guidebook, but Raven will provide another item for the trail.

“She wants to honour the art work and is planning to do an original piece to replace the one that was stolen,” says gallery assistant Diana Pratt-Johnson.

On a brighter note, the project brought together more than 40 participating contributors in a remarkable exploration of the Shuswap natural and cultural landscape through its diverse trail system,” says  Trail Alliancee executive director Phil McIntyre-Paul. “Fifteen teams of artists, photographers and guides from different backgrounds and interests share a glimpse into the story each trail has to tell, starting with an acknowledgement of our place in Secwepemc territory.”

McIntyre-Paul calls the exhibition a diverse and layered exhibition that takes time to fully savour and appreciate – both in gallery and on-trail – inviting return visits, including exploration of 15 trails throughout the region.

“This could literally be your summer itinerary,” says Kutschker, who with McIntyre-Paul, co-produced the inaugural collaboration between the two organizations.

Local artists, photographers, and trail guide/storytellers were invited to spend the last 12 months exploring trails from around the Shuswap. The result is the production of brand new installations of art, photography, and written/spoken word in one of the biggest collaborations to date for the Shuswap District Arts Council.

The exhibition invites participation in a multi-level experience, beginning with viewing the art that will be on display all summer at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery, three off-site venues including the Prestige Harbourfront Resort, Prisa Lighting, and the Blue Canoe Bakery and Café, and two on-site trail installations, one on the Mt Baldy Lookout Trail and a replacement on the Foreshore Raven Trail.

In another first for the Salmon Arm Art Gallery, a field guide has been published to celebrate the project. Trail Mix is both a coffee table show piece and fit-in-your-day-pack field guide.

“It is a beautiful gift piece for friends and visitors to the Shuswap,” adds McIntyre-Paul, who notes the publication was created under the guidance of Louise Wallace Richmond and Otto Pfannschmidt at Playfort Publishing, and map assistance from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and Kari Wilkinson of Toliver Advertising and Design.

“This is a legacy publication that gives life to the exhibition long after the summer,” says Kutschker, calling it was an “extraordinary feat” to co-ordinate all 45 contributors for both the exhibition and the publication. “I feel like I just had a baby.”

This exhibition was supported by Shuswap Community Foundation, Shuswap Tourism, numerous community donations through the Love A Trail gallery fundraiser, and the ongoing support of the City of Salmon Arm, the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Copies of Trail Mix, are available at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery for $15, with all proceeds going to support local art and trail projects.


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