Last fall, throughout the latter part of October, observers along the banks of the Adams River were treated to the unexpected, unpredictable and unprecedented (in the last 100 years) spectacle of an estimated 15 million sockeye salmon returning to their spawning grounds along the Adams. While many may now speculate as to whether last year’s run signals the recovery or the end of the largest salmon run on the planet, 10 Shuswap and Thompson area artists have chosen to recognize last year’s “peak” run with an exhibition of art entitled Peak Year at SAGA Public Art Gallery.
Peak Year, an exhibit of art installations by 10 artists opens at the gallery on Friday, Sept. 30 with a reception at 7 p.m. The exhibition is sponsored in part by the Adams River Salmon Society, a group which honoured and managed the incredible return of people and salmon to the famous Roderick Haig-Brown Park.
Participating artists are Lisa Figueroa (20 paintings installed with salmon egg beads, fishing line, river rock and sand), Steve Mennie and Jen Dyck (fish net hanging from ceiling containing melting salmonid-shaped ice blocks), Eric Kutschker (wooden viewing platform with metal sculptural elements) and Otto Pfannschmidt (a small, digital sculpture).
Also included are Lynn Erin (a mosaic of paintings contributed by kids from the North Shuswap), Patrick Hughes (found object sculpture of decomposing salmon and elements contributed by friends along the Fraser River), Janelle Norman (an acrylic and charcoal abstract), Ray Perreault (photographs of salmon swimming), Cindy Hayden (stained glass) and Karen Hanna (fibre art).
It was in 2008 that Salmon Arm artist Lisa Figueroa says she was asked to join a painting group called Jade, whose mandate was to paint the Adams River and Roderick Haig-Brown Park, capturing the sockeye salmon throughout the course of the year. The group mounted a show called Visceral Loss and it was from this experience that Figueroa has become even more enthusiastic about painting the river, its salmon and the habitat.
While local sculptor Eric Kutschker has a bachelor degree in fine arts, it is his experience as a welder for CN Rail and a farming background that explains his unusual interest in rusty farm and train parts, which usually find their way into his organic sculptural forms. For Peak Year, Kutschker says he was inspired by the act of viewing his two children leaning over the rippling water trying to become part of the miracle of the salmon cycle, as well as watching the odd chinook push past the sockeye in their instinctual rush to their birthplace. Kutschker adds that his works are meant to be outdoors, evolving, growing, rusting in their environment and creating themselves anew every season.
Janelle Norman is a self-taught artist currently producing and selling original art out of her home studio in Kamloops. Her work is emotionally driven, spontaneous and passionate.
“The process of all my work greatly relies on mood and state of mind,” says Norman. “I am not strictly abstract. I am not strictly contemporary. Therefore I am not one type of artist or another. I do what I love and that is inserting energy and motion into art.”
Norman uses various mediums to express artistic creativity. One of which is finding ways to incorporate salvaged materials into different pieces of artwork in an effort to do her part to preserve the environment.
Kamloops angler and photographer Ray Perreault approaches the Adam’s River sockeye run from a totally different perspective.
“One of the paradoxes of becoming an angler is that the pursuit of your sport leads you into a relationship with your quarry that’s routed in deep love, wonder and respect,” says Perreault. “With the Peak Year exhibition, the challenge was to capture the subject in a way that illustrates the event and at the same time veered away from clinical documentation. By using a carefully chosen combination of shutter speed and aperture as one does with film, I was able to accomplish my goal.”
Cindy Hayden is a self proclaimed glass addict who has worked in this medium for two decades. She first became involved in stained glass in high school, after which she began working in a glass shop which fuelled her passion for glass. Hayden utilizes vibrant colour and unusual textures to create a unique statement. Her piece for Peak Year captures the beauty of sunlight as the colours and textures change through the day and various light transmissions filter through the glass.
Each artist in Peak Year has approached the subject of the 2010 Adams River sockeye run in a different manner. The show is stunning in both its depth and its perspectives.