A cream and sugar set created at the Sandpiper Studio in WIndermere

A cream and sugar set created at the Sandpiper Studio in WIndermere

Tour the culture of the Columbia Basin

Another opportunity to lose oneself in the imaginative work of local creative minds is quickly coming up.

For those who didn’t satiate their appetite for art this past weekend at the Columbia Valley Arts Council’s Tour of the Arts, another opportunity to lose oneself in the imaginative work of local creative minds is quickly coming up.

This coming weekend, over 70 locations across the Columbia Basin, from artists’ studios and museums to art galleries and heritages sites, will be open to the public on both Saturday (August 11) and Sunday (August 12) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Columbia Basin Culture Tour presented by the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA). This free, self-guided event gives art lovers the chance to see demonstrations, exhibitions and collections in venues that aren’t normally open and meet the artists themselves behind the scenes.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for artists, because they can just show their work and sell it right out of their studio,” said CKCA founding member and Invermere-based potter Alice Hale, who will be opening up her studio and showroom on Westside Road for the tour.

Hale has been participating in the tour since it began four years ago. A potter with more than 35 years experience, she first came to the Columbia Valley as a teacher in 1963 when she was hired by David Thompson Secondary School to teach art.

“I had never taught art in my life,” she reflected with a laugh. Having mainly taught English, she enrolled in a  night class for pottery making, thinking it would be something her students would enjoy learning. Instantly, she was hooked and by 1975 was doing so much pottery that she quit teaching to become a potter full time.

Finding inspiration from the world around her, Hale’s pieces inevitably convey what she’s learned over the years while travelling extensively across the globe. A year in Europe, a three-week pottery course in China, a tour across Nicaragua with Potters for Peace as well as trips to Africa, South America, Nepal, China and Turkey to name but a few have all left indelible imprints on her own work.

“Everywhere there is something unique but it’s amazing there are things that are similar everywhere (as well),” Hale said. “It’s as though it sort of came from a central point and moved out to all the corners of the earth.”

She uses many firing methods such as sawdust firing, saggar firing, and raku for her artistic works while her functional pieces — from dinner and tea sets to casseroles — are electric or gas fired. Both streams will be on display for the tour in addition to a shelf of pieces she’s collected from all over the world.

Everything from clay, glass, paintings, writers, archives and quilts will be on display throughout four designated regions — the Southwest Basin, which includes Nelson, Rossland, Trail and Castlegar; the Northwest Basin with Kaslo and Nakusp; the Southeast Basin, which includes Fernie, Kimberley, Cranbrook and Canal Flats; and the Northeast Basin, with Fairmont Hot Springs, Windermere, Invermere and Golden.

Representing the Columbia Valley in this regional art extravaganza in Invermere will be the Village Arts Artisan Co-op, Pynelogs Art Gallery and Cultural Centre, and the private studio of potter Alice Hale; in Windermere, the Sandpiper Studio of Gorden Webster and Julie Gibb, in Fairmont Hot Springs, the private studio of Pat Luders, while the Headwaters Art Society will be putting on an exhibition and sale at the Canal Flats Community Hall.

The Headwaters Art Society is a new group of local artists in Canal Flats, who heavily reflect the beauty of the natural environment in their work through wildlife and landscape paintings. After a successful first show last November, the group has been eagerly anticipating another event and their contribution to the Columbia  Basin Art Tour will also feature performances by the Arabian Spice Bellydancers, and refreshments will be served.

At the riverside studio of sculptor Pat Luders on the outskirts of Fairmont Hot Springs, visitors will be treated to her passion for sculpture that has two distinctive streams — portraits that reflect her love of people, and multi-media tables that allow for a freer expression of intuitive ideas and images.

The Sandpiper hot glass studio in Windermere will showcase the collaborative award-winning work of Gordon Webster and Julie Gibb, who will also be offering live glassblowing demonstrations on site.

Visit the website at www.cbculturetour.com to view full artist and venue profiles, details on each location’s activities or register to receive a tour brochure in the mail. For further information, call the CKCA at 1-250-505-5505 or toll free at 1-877-505-7355. Tour brochures are also available at tourist information centres and participating venues.