Rossland painter Stephanie Gauvin is among the Greater Trail artists participating in the free Columbia Basin Culture Tour this weekend. Residents are encouraged to pick up a tour brochure and hit the various studios and galleries open to the public.

Rossland painter Stephanie Gauvin is among the Greater Trail artists participating in the free Columbia Basin Culture Tour this weekend. Residents are encouraged to pick up a tour brochure and hit the various studios and galleries open to the public.

Artists open up studios for tour

To meet local artists behind the scenes and see first hand what their newest creations are, residents are invited to participate in a free self-directed tour throughout the Columbia Basin this weekend.

To meet local artists behind the scenes and see first hand what their newest creations are, residents are invited to participate in a free self-directed tour throughout the Columbia Basin this weekend.

Nearly 100 artisans are hanging up their latest efforts – be it paintings, pottery or clothing – and dusting off discounted older pieces for the third annual Columbia Basin Culture Tour that runs Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Among the 20 venues in the region, residents can visit Lori Prest of Bea&Glad Studio, who will be showcasing her unique silk-screened designs made in her East Trail studio.

Using a combination of natural and renewable resource fabrics, Prest produces patchwork clothing that comes to life with water-based ink patterns and decorative flat-lock stitch.

“I’m not really attracted to fashion, I’m not one to buy a magazine but sometimes I am like the fashion police,” said Prest, clarifying that her work is more like art in motion.

She started sewing at the age of six when her mom refused to mend her Barbie clothes and it wasn’t long after that she found herself sharing a bachelor suite in Vancouver’s West End with hand painted silk scarves.

After taking a clay and textiles program at Capilano College in the ‘80s, Prest helped start up a textile cooperative in Granville Island and continued on her path of creating functional art for women – calling her line after her nana, Beatrice, and her grandmother, Gladys.

“I called them the grandmothers of invention, they both lived through the depression and had kids they had to raise on nothing,” she said. “They did everything – between them they knitted, crocheted, quilted, sewed clothing, did canning and smoked fish.”

Her desire to concentrate on her art and get away from an office job that was “sucking the life ” from her, led her to the Kootenays where she now creates clothing that can be purchased at her studio in Trail on Fridays, at Global Underground in Nelson and Frock in Kelowna.

Beyond feeding off of inspiration from simple items she stumbles across in every day life, Prest visits the library and turns to books for different imagery. One of her favourites, she points out, is from a surrealist photographer who superimposed an image of a woman in an evening gown and a tree.

Just up the hill, there is more art to discover.

Finding enough time to bike, ski, raise children and capture it all in a painting has proven possible by self-described “spinster” Stephanie Gauvin, who doesn’t have to travel far to find inspiration in Rossland.

The painter continues to capture the Golden City’s scenic mountains and quaint corners downtown through her vibrant acrylic and oil-based paintings that could very well be hung in every second home.

“You hear, ‘I have one of your paintings in my house’ and sometimes it’s like visiting your children,” she laughed in her studio that will also be open to the public this weekend.

After completing a fine arts degree in Sherbrook, Que., Gauvin moved out west to tree plant. The adventure seeker wound up in Whistler, before relocating to Rossland 17 years ago with her husband Phil Patterson to start their “ski family.”

The Rossland free-ski champ and Red Mountain poster girl began painting on glass before switching to canvass in 2004.

If she’s not hitting Red for inspiration in the winter, Gauvin can be found ripping through a mountain bike trail in the summer, only stopping to capture inspiration with a photograph she can bring back to her studio.

“I tell my friends, ‘Stop, we have to go to the viewpoint,’” she said of her adventures that she chronicles.

Constantly wanting to learn new techniques, Gauvin has attended various workshops given by prominent Canadian painters.

“I never want to stop learning,” she said. “Your whole life you’re going to get better, obviously, and after seven years you start changing the way you do something and try something totally new.”

Over time, Gauvin’s work has moved more toward abstract, all while still sticking to “child-like” images that evoke a feeling of community.

“The colours always stay very vibrant and I try not to get stuck on making things look exact,” she said.

Residents are invited to travel to studios and archives that aren’t normally open, see demonstrations, new exhibitions and collections along the tour this weekend by grabbing a map and hitting the road.

For more information on the culture tour, visit www.cbculturetour.com, to download a tour directory or stop into one of the venues participating in the tour (Artisan and Rouge Gallery) for a pamphlet.

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