After a bit of a facelift over the summer

Triple bill kicks off new VISAC season

“Come with intent to stop and ponder the inspiration or ideas the artists have created for you.” ~ VISAC director Kristen Renn

Come with an open mind and don’t expect a quick stroll thinking, ‘oh, that’s pretty,’ or ‘that’s nice,’ says VISAC director Kristen Renn.

“Come with intent to stop and ponder the inspiration or ideas the artists have created for you,” she described. “This is an exhibit where one can expect to find art that really speaks to them.”

The downtown Trail art gallery opens its first show of the season tonight (Friday) with a public reception from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The multi-artist and multi-dimensional exhibit features “Atomic Sculptures” by Salmo artist Howard Roo, a series of vibrant paintings by Salmo’s Tova Main, and surreal illustrations by Rhandi Sandford of Nelson.

“We expect, invite, and encourage all Trail, Salmo, Nelson, Rossland and Castlegar art lovers to come to the opening reception,” said Renn.

“Attending exhibit openings is an amazingly fun way to meet the artists, connect with local arts councils members, and of course, be the first to view some wonderful art.”

By day, Howard Roo creates unique ornamental iron work and metal art fountains for his self-owned Castilian Fountain and Metal company.

But he’s always thinking sculpture and design. Inspiration for this show spans 50 years, dating back to when Roo first came into the world. He was born three months before the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962) so his Atomic Sculptures reflect Roo’s take on global nuclear threats from childhood until present day.

“I remember the TV blurting out the message, ‘This is only a test,’” says Roo, now 53.

“The danger of nuclear war, and the nuclear power plants themselves, like Chernobyl and Fukushima – I studied it for quite a while now and the whole industry is completely bizarre.”

Trained as a welder/fabricator, Roo became ill and could no longer work in his trade. So he packed up and moved to Salmo from White Rock a decade ago.

“After I recuperated I decided to stay because I like it here,” he explained. “I started my own business, saw others doing artwork, and thought this could be very therapeutic for me.”

Through trial and error, and many prototype failures, Roo has become a well known Kootenay artist, showing in several local galleries. But the VISAC show is his first feature in Trail.

“The way I put it is, my fountains give a sense of peacefulness,” he said. “Whereas the ‘Atomic Sculptures’ are bit of the opposite. They many help face your demons and fears head on – and help quell some of your nightmares.”

Originally from the coast, painter Tova Main is showing pieces that reflect the beauty of natural landscape; as well as the dark side of human nature.

“My intention is to evoke a reaction,” she explained. “I like to paint in a way that draws the viewer in and I hope, give them food for thought.”

Her subject matter is often ephemeral, such as a moment when the sun strikes a mountain. This show, however, also highlights Main’s series of paintings that meld with Roo’s vision.

“I’ve created four panels describing the basic elements of warfare,” she explained. “It is intended to be anti-war. I think if you can analyze the process of going to war, you can readily reach the conclusion that war is an absurd and useless undertaking.”

Also showing is Rhandi Sandford, a multi-media artist, practising in charcoal, ink, watercolour, acrylic and fibre arts.

Her illustrations caught Renn’s eye during a local indoor farmers market.

“She was selling her fascinating and wonderfully unique illustrations and creations,” says Renn. “My partner and I instantly fell in love with her subject matter and her sweet unabashed attitude about giving people a peek at her imagination.”

Over the summer, the gallery was glammed up with a red, black and white colour scheme, giving it a more cohesive and elegant feel for the season’s first exhibition.

“This included touching up and reorganizing the lovely shop and event space in the gallery,” said Renn. “We have been hard at work making connections within the community and getting the word out that our goal is to support the established and working artists. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the upcoming exhibits and events and want everyone to know there is a flourishing and supportive art network here in Trail.”

For information, contact Renn at 250.364.1181 or visit

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