Kootenay culture will lend its flavour to artisan exhibitions throughout the region this weekend.
The Columbia Basin Culture Tour (CBCT), a project of the Columbia Kootenay Alliance, will be hosting artisan exhibitions throughout the West Kootenay starting Saturday.
The CBCT is a grass-roots arts tour with creative individuals exhibiting their artwork and hosting a series of demonstrations.
Nearly 70 artists have been busily preparing their studios for tours and demonstrations this season, including several artists from Greater Trail.
“This is my second year participating,” said Montrose artist Rebecca Leeworth. “I think the tour is a really good thing to have because it makes people aware that we actually do have artists in the community, and it allows them to come and see what we’re doing.”
But the culture tour does more than bridge gaps between artists and their communities, for some it’s a way of life.
Leeworth began producing artwork shortly after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and ischemic colitis.
“I used to write, but I couldn’t put my thoughts together properly so my husband bought me a bunch of art supplies about five years ago,” she explained. “ So, I started painting garden ornaments and that’s how I learned.”
But now artwork is a way to cope with adversity. Her mediums range from oils to acrylics, with some multimedia. She even teaches classes for children in Montrose.
“I’d like things to be about my art instead of my illness, even though one does impact the other a lot more than I would like,” said Leeworth. “Sometimes when I’m not feeling well I can just get lost in colour and it means that sometimes the colours I use can be really dull and sometimes I’m more vibrant, but I still keep going.”
Most of the time she can be found perched on a stool in a tiny wooden shed in front of her house, she calls it “the art shack.”
Inside of the shack, square canvases are suspended from the ceiling with fishing line and some are stacked up in tiny nooks and crannies. The shack is as quirky as the artist.
“I have so many paintings that our house is filling up too,” she said, gesturing at the work around her.
But the space is organized in her way. It’s accessible and if you ask the right questions, Leeworth is more than happy to explain the work. She uses art as an escape from the daily impacts of being ill, and explained how her moods often dictate how she works, but it doesn’t get her down.
“There are also a couple of really great artists this year,” said Rachael Roussin, a member of the Rossland arts council. “Tricia Rasku is absolutely amazing, not only does she weave all of the products she makes—she also dyes the wool.
“She makes everything by hand.”
Rasku, based in Rossland, will be exhibiting a series of handmade soaps and crafts during the culture tour. Other highlights include paintings from Stephanie Gauvin in Rossland and pottery from Trail artist Fran Moll. Guests may browse artisan studios and galleries or watch demonstrations. The self-guided tour takes place on Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
For more information about the line-up and tour map, visit cbculturetour.com.