The Kootenays have long had a reputation for being an artistic or cultural centre, far beyond what the relatively sparse population and small, close-knit communities might lead one to expect.
Hidden away on country backroads or unobtrusively placed in sedate, small-town neighbourhoods are small studios and converted garages that are the workplaces of a wide variety of artists, artisans, and craftspeople who quietly create work that could surprise many who are unaware of the creativity that seems to flourish in this region.
This Saturday and Sunday the annual Columbia Basin Culture Tour once again opens up creative spaces of local artists to the public, who are encouraged to go on self-guided tours to view, and purchase, some of the work from the creative souls who reside in the area.
On Beaver Street in Fruitvale, Donna Anderson has part of her house converted into a small studio where she runs “Painted Glass,” a small business dedicated to creating customized, hand-painted glass works.
“A friend talked me into taking a glass painting course with her when I was in Victoria in 2004,” said Anderson. “I didn’t want to go but she talked me into it. I am so grateful I did, it’s relaxing for me and rewarding, people seem really happy with my work. I get a lot of wonderful feedback.”
Anderson said she started out with only four bottles of glass paint but now has about 300 bottles on hand in almost every colour and hue imaginable.
Working from freehand sketches, photos, and some stock stencils, Anderson spends hours bent over her work table creating her colourful glassware.
Although much of her work is available at the Artisan co-op store in downtown Trail, amongst other handmade local creations, she says the majority of her production now is personalized work specifically requested by customers.
“I’ve done custom work for weddings, anniversaries, door prizes for golf tournaments, retirement gifts . . . almost anything you can think of,” said Anderson. “I can take phone orders and create something for a special occasion for someone but right now there’s a one-month to six-week wait. People need to call well in advance of the date of an event. It’s a relatively inexpensive, personalized gift.”
This is Anderson’s first year participating in the culture tour and she is looking forward to the experience.
“I’ve cleaned up my studio and I’ll have a slide show on the computer of my work that has sold in the past,” she said. “I hope people come and check it out.”
The Columbia Basin Culture Tour provides an online map on their website for those interested in taking the tour.
Visit the event’s website for more information and full artist and venue profiles, as well as a detailed location map at www.cbculturetour.com.