Location: British Columbia

ShprixieLand Studios: Partners in Pottery and Play

ShprixieLand Studios: Partners in Pottery and Play

If you have seen the colourful pottery works of ShprixieLand Studios from Boswell, B.C. and thought, “How fun! How Playful! How Unique”, and wondered what the artists were like, well those same descriptors will ring true once you have met Heath Carra and Victoria Henriksen, also known as Shpriken and Pixie. Our first glimpse of these fine folks was when they contacted us wishing to contribute some pottery to our now defunct crowdfunding campaign. We loved their work and wanted to interview them, and despite not living far apart from one another it took awhile to meet up. So here we are, after tooth extraction appointments and date changes we have finally arrived at the base of their driveway, this last obstacle almost requiring four wheel drive for our over-weight and under-powered van Arty.

Heath (Shpriken) Carra and Victoria (Pixie) Henriksen

Like many people living in the Kootenays of B.C. (including us), Pixie and Shpriken relocated from a bigger city to forge a different way of life for themselves. After checking out fourteen homes through a Creston realtor, they found their scenic oasis overlooking the pristine waters of Kootenay Lake in Boswell. Pixie having come from art and design school and Shpriken a background in sheet metal layout, they discovered new opportunities for growth and a new learning curve for all that living in a rural area entailed, such as chopping wood for heating, raising chickens and pigs, and being the head fixer-upper for anything and everything. It also meant finding a way to earn an income, and although they acted on a whim to move, with no plans for work once they got there, it is, ironically, these urges of let’s give it a try that has lent itself well to their creative process and now successful pottery business.

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We learned from these two artists that their art work, like their lives together, are a weave of collaboration, friendship, fun, and propping each other up when needed. It was Pixie who was the ceramic artist arriving in Boswell with the design and wheel-throwing skills, and Shpriken, the mathematics minded handy guy who built her a pottery studio and fixed stuff up where needed. What he found through hanging around Pixie in the studio though is that his knowledge of sheet metal layout crossed over to hand-building clay pieces from slab layout design. From these beginnings their pottery lines have expanded with their imaginations, in many cases incorporating decals that they have made of images and phrases to be imprinted on their mugs, tumblers and rice bowls. You will see fun pieces ranging from adorable animal caricatures with happy sayings, to the risqué humour of their Educational Wildlife Mugs, a light-hearted series for the less prudish. And if you thought that doilies had gone out of style for your table-top accoutrements then wait until you see these designs pressed into a mug or teapot, creating an eye-popping effect. (At the risk of sounding less dudeish Shpriken proudly acknowledges his huge collection of doilies).

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The ShprixieLand Studio

The Shprixies note that although the merit of the artistry and decoration of a piece is important, the shape of the clay vessel must still be fully functional for day to day use. A visually appealing mug will be pleasing to the eye, but one that can be held in the hands with a steaming cup of tea or coffee will also engage the tactile senses, and some may argue even elevating the enjoyment of the beverage. Likewise, a piece hand-made by an artist, where their creative energies have lovingly transformed a piece of clay into a “friend” that speaks to you through the colour and texture of its glazes, the shape of the handle perfectly within your grasp, or the image of a cute owl bringing a smile to your face, will stir the soul unlike anything that a mass produced machine molded mug could ever do.

Enjoy our interview with these high-energy partners in pottery and please help to spread the word about them through social media, with nice comments submitted below for those so inclined.

Photographer Onno Kok’s Creative Imagery

Photographer Onno Kok’s Creative Imagery

Kaloya Park, Kelowna, B.C.

Have you ever stood before a mountain at twilight, gazed at the stars on a clear and dark night or perhaps caught a glimpse of a peculiar little insect sunning itself on a leaf? What about trying to describe that gift of wonderment, when you experience these things, to someone else? It is impossible to recreate this feeling, bottle it and pass it on to another person. As with many people, I like to have a camera along just in case an opportunity of this kind presents itself. However, even with that I cannot recreate the actual experience. But if you are Onno Kok, you may come close.

Photographer Onno Kok

Photographer Onno Kok

Onno has had an interest in photography pretty much all his life but it wasn’t until 2014 when he became more serious about it. Due to an unfortunate injury, followed by back surgery which left him unable to work for 6 months, a door was opened to the luxury of time allowing him to explore his creativity and passion for photography. Onno lives in the Okanagan of British Columbia and, as with many places in Canada, the landscape can be magical at any given time. For Onno, sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time but often it is also research and strategic planning that allows him to capture and create the shot he is looking for. He keeps an eye on weather reports and clear sky charts which are useful tools if you are interested in catching an image of the Andromeda Galaxy or Orion Nebula for instance.

Orion Nebula

Orion Nebula

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Skillful art in any form is born from an idea, which then requires some level of investigation and is superseded by problem solving and execution. Onno loves to challenge himself for fun but also to push his technical and creative skills. At the beginning of 2015 he was presented with an opportunity to do just that. He joined a 52 week photography challenge whereby each week he is given a word, a theme, an idea or even just a letter and then uses that as the basis to create an image that is representative. For example, in one of the weeks the letter Z was the subject and so Onno decided to turn himself into the character Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy . After about fifty different shots the final image was created using only two or three and the end result is a seamless image. If you ever met a sci-fi character with the initials ZB face to face and took a picture of him this is likely what you would end up with.

Zaphod Beeblebrox aka Onno Kok

Zaphod Beeblebrox aka Onno Kok

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I have heard it said by more than one person that using computer programs to enhance or alter a photo image is not being true to traditional photography. This is certainly one way of looking at it depending on what you are trying to accomplish. However, what if our cameras are unable to capture the true colour of what our eyes actually see? What if everything about the composition of a scene is the most breathtaking thing you have ever witnessed but there happens to be some man-made power lines polluting the potential image? Onno eloquently puts it this way; “I want my viewers to see it the way I would want it to be”. And so, with some computer tools and skills he makes his images slightly polished but not so much so that they become unbelievable. My guess is when we look at Onno’s photography of the night sky or a flower, stream or lake we can grab a bit of that feeling as if we were standing right there and witnessing it with our own eyes.

Kaloya Park, Kelowna, B.C.

Kaloya Park, Kelowna, B.C.

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Please join us a Onno Kok shares with us his passion for photography and the subjects that drive that passion. We appreciate your comments and please help us spread the word about Onno and his work through social media and email. Thank-you!

Get Wildcrafting with Mixed Media Artist Don Elzer

Get Wildcrafting with Mixed Media Artist Don Elzer

"Greystokes Cottonwoods"

“Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting and using wild materials for food, medicine, construction, art and craft. Whether it’s a wild botanical like devils club, shed antlers, pine cones or mushrooms, the gathering of found materials provides wildcrafters a means to generate a living direct from nature.” ~Don Elzer~

Don Elzer at his Wildcraft Forest

Don Elzer at his Wildcraft Forest

The above quote from Don Elzer therein lies the first clue to the life he leads. It is one of stewardship to the lands he roams, loves and protects, collecting materials for his own use and commerce but like all healthy relationships his connection to the Earth is one of give and take, and then give some more. Through permaculture principles he advocates for, and engages in responsible harvesting practices of plant species; tread lightly, take only what you need, replenish and propagate, then repeat.

"The Prophecy" - full and detail

“The Prophecy” – full and detail

We met up with mixed media artist Don Elzer at his Wildcraft Forest Wild Tea Plantation thirty minutes east of Vernon along Highway 6 in the Monashee region of British Columbia. We had already been following Don’s initiatives on Facebook for quite awhile now, but when we sat down to chat with him we were amazed by all of the wildcrafting irons that he had in the fire.

"Tree Whisper" and "The Tone"

“Tree Whisper” and “The Tone”

Don’s art work is one extension of his wildcrafting. Found materials such as antlers, birch bark, feathers and naturally harvested clay are just a few items that lend themselves to Don’s sculptures in symbolic, spiritual and storied interpretations. His paintings may be a mix of acrylic paint, pastels and crayons which seems to create an almost 3d effect through the contrast of glossy and matte finishes. They depict memorable scenes, places once been and of stories yet to unfold.

"Monashee Moon #1"

“Monashee Moon #1”

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If wildcrafting is the hub of Don Elzer’s wheel of life, then the many spokes borne from that are not only his art work, but also initiatives such as:

-Teaching Permaculture Design and Wildcrafting Courses at his Wildcraft Forest.
-Offering wild tea blends, herbs and potions at the Wildcraft Forest Apothecaeri.
-Social enterprise through his Watershed Intelligence Network.
– The Shelter Revolution. Tiny House building, sales and workshops with off-the-grid applications.
Author and Publisher

Don may wear many hats but through all of these labours of love lies a common thread: a deep connection, appreciation and relationship to nature.

"Dreams of the New Sacred Land"

“Dreams of the New Sacred Land”

So you see, it matters not whether you are looking to appreciate nature through a sculpture, a painting, a soothing and medicinal tea, or a hands-on practical education in wildcrafting to further your stewardship on Earth, a visit to Don Elzer’s Wildcraft Forest will awaken your senses.

Enjoy our interview with Don Elzer as you peruse his art work! Comments and sharing through social media and email are encouraged and welcome!

Off-piste with Painter Jenny Baillie

Off-piste with Painter Jenny Baillie

"Orange Bear"

There are many reasons why one would want to visit the charming town of Rossland, tucked within the mountainous south central region of British Columbia. For some it may be for the world class skiing at Red Mountain, for others it could be carving the trails of Canada’s mountain biking capital, while for others a visit to the Rossland Beer Company to whet their whistle would be in order. For us, we were drawn here by the bold and vibrant art work of visual artist Jenny Baillie, and a chance to discover the personality behind the paintbrush.

Jenny Baillie beside her "Women of the Klondike - Mae Field"

Jenny Baillie beside her “Women of the Klondike – Mae Field”

It was the lure of skiing in the Canadian Rockies that drew Jenny first to Banff, Alberta from New Zealand back in 1979, and then on to Rossland, B.C. in 1982. It is there she has called home ever since. The many peaks, lakes and vistas she has encountered throughout the B.C. mountains all called out to her creativity, and she notes that it was through the rigours of skiing, hiking and backpacking that Jenny attributes the initial inspiration for her landscape paintings. She says she, “likes to sweat and suffer in the great outdoors” to help fuel her creativity.

"Lake O'Hara 1"

“Lake O’Hara 1”

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Jenny notes that if she were to put a label on her style of painting that it would be something like, “abstract impressionism with some funk.” She typically uses six colours to create her vivid paintings, but Jenny admits that her goal is to simplify even more to three primary colours, plus black and white. Her subject matter is varied, ranging from her landscapes, to bears and bunnys, super heroes, flowers, comic relief, and a series of historical women, from those of the pioneering and mountaineering ilk, to those of the Klondike Gold Rush fame.

"Women of the Klondike - Kate Carmack"

“Women of the Klondike – Kate Carmack”

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Jenny is never afraid to get out of her comfort zone nor is she at a loss for new ideas. Her eclectic subject matter exhibits her need for self expression; wherever her imagination takes her. At the same time she understands the need to satisfy the market, and so she appeals to her audience with her signature landscape pieces. This is much like a skier who will follow the groomed runs because that is what they have always done, but really wanting the thrill of uncharted territory. Jenny confided to us that her creativity is about to go off-piste once again. We look forward to her new discoveries.

To view more of Jenny’s art work please visit her website by clicking here.

Enjoy our interview with Jenny and please help us spread the word about her art work through sharing on social media and email. Comments below are also welcome!

Pinching Pottery the Willo Treschow Way

Pinching Pottery the Willo Treschow Way

Hand-built Mugs by Willo Treschow

When you haven’t eaten in a while you don’t realize how hungry you are until after the first bite. This clearly describes how I felt when we stepped into Willo Treschow’s studio after many months of interview drought. We discovered Moving Mountains Pottery on one of our walks in Slocan, B.C.; the place we now call home. Willo has a lovely space where she spends most of her days creating and living her passion.

Willo Treschow at Moving Mountains Pottery Studio

Willo Treschow at Moving Mountains Pottery Studio


Click the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

Isis Kneeling Relief

Isis Kneeling Relief

Willo’s life has always revolved around art in one form or another. Depending on the circumstance’s of a particular time in her life she may have been working on painting or textile art but pottery was always in the back of her mind, like a pot on a shelf waiting to be fired. The first time she touched clay in her school art class she knew it was to be her primary portal to expression.

Spiral Teapot

Spiral Teapot


Copper Manganese Raku Bowl

Copper Manganese Raku Bowl

The potters we have interviewed thus far have used a wheel for creating things with spherical tendencies but there are also components of hand-building that are required to finish off a piece. Not to say that she is not experienced on the wheel, but Willo is a hand-builder through and through. When I asked her what the most challenging piece she ever created was she told me about a time in college when she was required to make four cylinders exactly the same size. After about forty-five attempts it was then and there that she undoubtedly knew she wouldn’t be making any identical sets of anything in her career as a potter.

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Willo also enjoys creating pictures and vignettes as clay relief. One of her favourite things to do is find an old black and white photograph, turn it into a clay relief, and play around with different glazes; imagining what the scene might have looked like at that moment in time. Hand-building gives Willo the freedom to create with wild abandon. She says her imagination cannot be reined in and there isn’t anything she is cautious about trying. After all, she says, “there is no right or wrong when you create art”.

Please join us as Willo shares her enthusiasm about her passion for hand-building pottery. We love comments and would appreciate it if you help us spread the word about Willo Treschow and her art through social media and email. Thank-you!

Frank Townsley Graces Us With Nature’s Palette

Frank Townsley Graces Us With Nature’s  Palette

Abandoned - watercolour

It was happenstance that watercolour painter and photographer Frank Townsley spotted our van Arty’s bold ArtsQuest advertising decals, and decided to email us. Though living in Coquitlam, he was using space at a retirement centre in North Vancouver just across the street from us as one of the locales to teach one of his many workshops. And so it was there, after one of his teaching sessions that we sat down to get to know Frank and learn more about what makes his paintbrush flick and his camera click.

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In addition to his painting and photography Frank is also an avid traveler and naturalist, which are both an integral part of his life and art work. A look through Frank’s images on his website will bring you to locations from across Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America. I found that the scenes he had photographed or painted were sometimes awe-inspiring and at other times evoked curiosity, giving me the urge to travel and to visit these spectacular places. As a naturalist Frank’s interests lie not just in capturing photographic images of nature’s wonders and putting some to canvas, but also in learning about the characteristics and history of the flora and fauna that he discovers.

Alpine Tapestry - watercolour

Alpine Tapestry – watercolour

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Having explored and photographed much of his home province of B.C., and having documented interesting facts along the way, Frank decided that putting together an educational coffee table book of B.C. would be a worthwhile endeavour and a wonderful way to capture the essence of this beautiful province. The title of his book is going to be British Columbia – Graced By Nature’s Palette, and he is planning to publish it this fall. Prefacing each chapter will be one of his B.C. inspired watercolour paintings representative of the region. Below you will see the photographic image that will adorn the front cover of his book.

Caught In The Light - Book Cover Photograph

Caught In The Light – Book Cover Photograph

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Teaching workshops on watercolour painting and photography has come a long way for Frank from the days when he was first giving tips on the finer points of photography to his family and friends. He is now busier than ever, and notes that if he is not teaching his workshops around the Vancouver area then he may be off leading a group on an Alaskan cruise painting excursion (his 36th trip is coming up!). Although into his retirement years, Frank loves to teach, and notes how gratifying it is to see his students learn, progress and gain confidence in their abilities. They leave his course with a sense of pride and accomplishment but also with a set of “tools” to further their creativity. Some of these tools may be techniques such as scratching, splattering or using salt (see video interview for Frank’s explanation), as well as learning the skills needed to fix mistakes on paintings once previously thought doomed and having to start over. To the benefit of those that can’t get to Frank’s workshops he has two instructional DVD’s that can be acquired by contacting him through his websites.

Below you will find an example of splattering (to create grains of sand or even stars or snowflakes), scratching (leaving white such as the trees shown here or the spray of a wave), and using salt (to create a softer, blended look with more water or finer detail with less):

To see more of Frank’s work check out his websites by clicking (here) and (here).

Coming up next is our interview with Frank Townsley! We welcome comments and sharing on social media and email.

Actor Alison Wandzura and the Art of Being Real

Actor Alison Wandzura and the Art of Being Real

What do you want to be when you grow up? For some of us this question has been easier to answer than for others. I am sure I changed my mind time and time again, and as I grew older it became more and more of a power struggle between what I really wanted to do and what I thought I should be doing. One thing I have learned is that the things that matter the most are matters of the heart, not of the head. In general, I think artists are one group of people that understand this very well. Gary and I had the chance to chat with Alison Wandzura who is a professional film and tv actor in Vancouver, B.C. Like many of us, when it came to choosing a career her heart was telling her to be an actor, but her head told her to go get a business degree. Eventually Alison quashed the naysayer within her, let the passion in her heart take over, and now she does what she loves.

Comedy theatre production

Comedy theatre production

When Alison was growing up her and her two brothers spent many of their days acting in homegrown productions and dreaming of the day when their staged funny-naked-bathroom-scene video would be chosen for America’s Funniest Home Videos. And although that was “kid stuff”, Alison always loved dressing up and pretending to be someone or something else. She still does. One of the reasons she pursued an acting career is because she could never decide what she wanted to be. She notes that if you act you get to pretend to be someone other than yourself on any given day.

Scene from a theatre production of Steel Magnolias

Scene from a theatre production of Steel Magnolias

Alison was born and raised in Calgary and so was her acting career. She started out as a theatre actor and then five years ago she decided to trust her heart and make a big move to Vancouver where she wanted to try her hand at film and tv acting. Since then she has had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects; everything from commercials, made for tv movies and series, big screen feature films and even playing the voice of animated characters. Many of these projects have been integral in helping her career unfold and to discover what acting really means to her. It is quite different from what it once was. She says it’s not about becoming rich and famous, it’s about discovering who she really is and how she can make a difference in the world by telling stories that matter.

Scene from the short film Citizen Jane

Scene from the short film Citizen Jane

Alison playing an undercover cop in the series Bluff

Alison playing an undercover cop in the series Bluff

There is something so real about an actor. An actor’s job is to convince us that they are the persona they are pretending to be. It is kind of ironic really. Actors are great pretenders and yet they spend their life perfecting the art of being real from someone else’s perspective. Because of this they may have a better handle on what it means to just be themselves more than most people do. Alison is discovering this about herself. Her acting career has opened the door and let the real Alison out. She sees the world and the people in it differently now. Her senses are wide open to what goes on around her. Not only does this make her a better actor it has also given her a love for humanity that she never knew she had.

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When Alison is not auditioning or working on her acting skills she enjoys being behind the camera for a change. She loves to travel and explore areas of the world that are rich in culture unfamiliar to her. She found herself captivated by the people and discovered her passion and creativity for photography came from capturing images of men, women and children just living their lives. In her words, “there is something so engaging and beautiful about someone just being themselves”. Alison hopes to create a greater respect and understanding of what is truly beautiful about a person by honouring the essence of humanity and what it means to be real, either through the images she captures from behind the camera or through the acting she presents in front of one.

arts-quest-alison-wandzura-photography-south-america-woman-yellow

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Please join us as Alison shares with us what it takes to be an actor. We love comments and would appreciate it if you could help us spread the word about Alison through social media and email. Thanks!

Dan Richter Crafts a String of Sweet Sounds

Dan Richter Crafts a String of Sweet Sounds

The last stop for our travels along the halcyon highway of the Sunshine Coast of B.C. brought us to the small oceanfront community of Gibsons. It was almost thirteen years ago that Corinne and I first set foot in this charming town which was the launch point for our motor-home honeymoon. Made famous for the television series The Beachcombers and its landmark cafe Molly’s Reach, today this peaceful locale is not only recognized for its past fame, outdoor pursuits and quality of living, but also as a destination for its thriving arts and culture community. Our visit today brought us to the home of one such artist, luthier and musician Dan Richter of Dragonfly Guitars.

arts-quest-dan-richter-dragonfly-guitars-portrait

Dan’s passion for music has permeated throughout his life. Discovering his love for playing guitar at an early age, his first riffs resonated with heavy rock and roll from a Larrivée Flying V electric guitar. He then sought out work with renowned luthier Jean Larrivée in his North Vancouver guitar manufacturing facility. There, fellow employees would bring in their hand-made guitars which were projects from a Douglas College course taught by west coast luthier Michael Dunn. It was during that time that the initial spark for making stringed instruments began. Dan took a course from notable luthier David Freeman, honed his skills on his own, and has now been hand-crafting one-of-a-kind stringed instruments for almost twenty years under the moniker of Dragonfly Guitars. Quite often the student becomes the teacher, and Dan’s affable nature lends itself well to the comprehensive six week luthier course that he teaches. Each of his students walks away with the pride and satisfaction of having hand-crafted their own stringed instrument from beginning to end.

arts-quest-dan-richter-dragonfly-guitars-1

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For those that enjoy the feel and fit of a finely tailored suit versus buying off the rack, that same appreciation will extend to a quality, hand-crafted stringed instrument that was made just for you. Dan notes that aside from adhering to the technical guidelines needed to create the primary characteristic of great sound, there are various personal touches that can be built in to enhance both the playability and aesthetics of the instrument. Innovations such as beveling sharp edges for comfort, a top sound hole for better player audio feedback, adapting scale length for smaller hands, and utilizing the Manzer wedge (narrower at top/thicker at bottom) are just some of the ergonomic modifications that will increase the comfort and enjoyment while playing one of his Dragonfly Guitars. Choice of colours from the different woods, personal inlay work and the different shapes to choose from will also set his guitars apart from the factory made counterpart.

arts-quest-dan-richter-dragonfly-guitars-10

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Whether making guitars, fixing them, teaching others to make them or playing in a band, music has always been an integral part of Dan’s life. From his early years of rock and roll to now a member of the highly acclaimed four piece string-band The Rakish Angles, Dan feels fortunate that he and his band-mates appreciate a wide variety of music. Entertaining their audiences with an eclectic array of offerings spanning newgrass, jazz, Latin, Celtic and folk music, he says that they do not limit themselves to any certain style and that this has worked well to satisfy both their freedom for creative expression and the varied tastes of their audiences.

Whet your appetite with the tune ‘Swingin’ the World by the Tail’ from The Rakish Angles and their Cottonwood Moon CD:

arts-quest-dan-richter-dragonfly-guitars-the-rakish-angles-cottonwood-moon

Learn more about Dan Richter and his world of lutherie and music in our interview with him below. Please feel free to leave a comment and share on your social media and email. Thank you!

Meghan Hildebrand’s Passions from Painting to Punk

Meghan Hildebrand’s Passions from Painting to Punk

You Are Left Alone

We were first introduced to Meghan Hildebrand’s work through the social media network. I spotted a painting of her’s someone else had shared and I was intrigued right from the start. It was a painting from her series Rivers and Logs that twigged my curiosity. Meghan lives along the Sunshine Coast of B.C. in Powell River which is historically known for its pulp and paper mill. In its prime this mill was once the largest in the world. The mill still exists but it is a shadow of its former self and now it shares the economy with tourism which stems from experiencing the arts, culture and nature in the area.

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Tinkernackle

Tinkernackle

We arranged to meet Meghan at the Dancing Tree Gallery where she displays some of her work. Meghan’s mother, who was an artist herself, always encouraged Meghan’s interest in art, and so being an artist was always part of her lifelong plan. Meghan is an artistic cartographer of sorts. She creates a series of paintings which she says are best described as story maps. Her paintings are primarily of landscapes depicting an actual place, or they may be more metaphorical depicting an idea of a subject that she wants to explore. Meghan fills her paintings with as many symbols and characters as she can. In many ways her work reminds me of a stylized kind of folk art within the realm of fine art. There are things going on all over the painting and they may be connected to one another, or not. Meghan leaves that for her audience to decide.

Boom Bay

Boom Bay

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Humans are an innately curious species. When our senses are stimulated with something unfamiliar it sparks that sense of wonder. If you look closely at one of Meghan’s paintings you will find yourself becoming lost within it. It draws you in as you follow a twisty road through what may be a cityscape, or you find yourself in the middle of a landscape that reminds you of somewhere you have been or want to go. There are some places that look so fanatastical you wonder what Meghan must have been thinking, so you look to the title for a clue but she gives nothing away there either. She expressed to us that she loves it when someone is left to their own devices to navigate through one of her paintings. That is what a story map does. It gives each person the opportunity to find their own path and discover their own way to the things they want to see within her painting. I think Meghan does an amazing job of this.

Winds and Hazard

Winds and Hazard

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O'Sullivan's Rolling Darkroom

O’Sullivan’s Rolling Darkroom

To see more of Meghan’s work check out her website by clicking here.

Meghan’s other artistic foray started about three years ago when she was invited to try out for an all ladies punk rock band called The Abbie Hoffman Society. She had never performed with a band, but she found herself taking on one of the roles of the five member band and they have been going strong ever since. Meghan says that she surprised herself as to how much she loves performing in front of an audience, especially since it is such a contrast to the singular activity of painting. Her paintings do reveal a free-thinking, non-conventional artist who walks to the beat of her own drum, so to me Meghan seems like an ideal candidate for The Abbie Hoffman Society. To date they have performed in their home town of Powell River, toured parts of British Columbia and released their first CD in 2013.

Have a listen to a track from The Abbie Hoffman Society’s first CD titled Do They Ever.

The Abbie Hoffman Society

The Abbie Hoffman Society

Click on track 1 below to hear Beaver Fever.

To learn more about The Abbie Hoffman Society click here.

Check out Meghan Hildebrand’s interview. We appreciate comments and thank you for helping to spread the word about Meghan through social media and email.

Concrete Artist Rick Harmer Shows It’s In The Mix

Concrete Artist Rick Harmer Shows It’s In The Mix

Lightweight concrete bowl from "The Cracked Egg" series

Bluff Hollow…it all started with a dream. While searching for a new home with his wife Ann in the Garden Bay area of B.C. on the Sunshine Coast, concrete artist Rick Harmer saw the place they would call home before they even saw it. He dreamt the property would be surrounded on both sides by bluffs and that it would be appropriately dubbed Bluff Hollow. The next day his dream became a reality when their realtor showed them the property where they now reside. Rick notes that it is impossible not to feel creative in a setting such as this, and so they enjoy exploring and creating within the wonders of their forested surroundings.

Rick and one of his concrete creations

Rick and one of his concrete creations

It was thirteen years ago that Rick decided to leave his career as a mortgage broker and become, as he coins, a concretist. Since then he has been casting and pouring into molds various garden and interior art objects in a variety of colours and finishes. With such a heavy medium to work with he knew there would be limitations to what he could create depending on the application and where it would be displayed. Therefore he set out to find a new formulation that would be much lighter yet durable to withstand the elements that garden art is subjected to. After much research and experimentation he developed his own formula that gave him the attributes he desired. As a result, Rick’s creations will complement the outdoor environment whether throughout gardens, on a tree, or against a mossy background. His indoor pieces add a simple yet elegant touch, but Rick mentions that the finishes on these are not winter-worthy and are for indoor enjoyment.

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His work has also evolved to utilizing concrete wrapped around styrofoam in order to make larger concrete objects more manageable. One such denizen of Bluff Hollow is a twenty two foot long snake that greets visitors along the driveway. It is concrete wrapped around styrofoam and only weighs forty four pounds. This technique has greatly expanded the possibilities for concrete desired products. I still remember moving my sister’s large concrete garden statue which required three guys and a chiropractor afterwards! This versatile and back-friendly medium is also prompting Rick to start making outdoor benches and tabletops as well.

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When I asked Rick what his ultimate challenge for a concrete work of art would be he replied, “The largest mushrooms in B.C.” Tying in nicely with the ongoing activities of the local mushroom club, he imagines an installation of three concrete-wrapped styrofoam mushrooms, nine feet tall with benches underneath for people to enjoy the shade. He would encourage the participation of high school students which would instill pride and a sense of ownership through their efforts and in turn help to secure guardians for the prominent local attraction. Rick is an advocate for more public art, and feels that it is a great way to get people out of their homes and collaborating with one another to not only enrich the community experience but also to share their identity with those traveling through.

To take a look through Rick’s Bluff Hollow website: (click here)

Enjoy our interview with Rick and thanks for helping to share his work through comments, social media and email: