Dance Wherever You May Be by Barb Legg

Castlegar’s Art Walk celebrates 20 years

Preparations are well under way for the twentieth year of Art Walk in Castlegar.

Castlegar’s Art Walk is turning 20 this year. In 1996 the celebration of local art began with just eight artists but has been growing steadily ever since. This year the walk, which can no longer be walked due to the incredible participation, will showcase 40 artists in 26 different venues.

In the early days, Sandra Donohue, Jacquie Hamilton and Ingeborg Thor-Larsen came together with an idea to create a way for artists to share their work with the community. “I blame it on Sandy, and Sandy blames it on me,” said Hamilton. The trio found some venues, printed brochures and Art Walk was off to a good start. Several artists including Donohue, Shirley Torbic, and the Selkirk Weavers and Spinners Guild have participated year after year since the very beginning.

Art Walk committee member Kari Burk explained part of what has made the event a success. “It is a real community event — you have the participants, the venues, the advertisers and the viewers,” she said. “It is a real interweaving of community.” The Art Walk committee itself is a hard working and passionate group made up of five artists and two others who represent the business side of things.

“Our partnership involves partnering with small businesses,” explained committee member Leni Normington. “We have great community support from businesses.” There are even some businesses who have been so happy with Art Walk, they have participated every year including KelPrint, Oglow’s Paint, Common Grounds and the Castlegar Public Library. There is such a demand by advertisers to be a part of the brochure, that spaces in it sell out quickly.

Unlike some art walks put on by other cities, the one in Castlegar is open to artists of all abilities and modalities. As long as the art can be matched with a venue willing to show it, all entries are welcome. This year’s group of artists is very diverse ranging from youth, emerging and amateur artists to members of the Canadian Federation of Artists.

The selection of venues is even more diverse including mechanic shops, car dealerships, coffee shops, financial offices, insurance brokers and the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Support for local artists is evident by the number of venues participating. Having such varied venues gives residents a taste of art as they go about their daily business making running errands and grabbing coffee more uplifting and inspiring than it would be without Art Walk.

If you make it all the way all around the Art Walk map this year you will see paintings, photographs, textiles, weaving, drawings, carvings, glass work and even some historical artifacts. “There are a lot of diverse subjects, from fairly impressionistic to abstract to representational,” said Art Walk founding member Jacquie Hamilton. Most of the art is for sale and some artists sell most of the art they have on display.

“The variety, the photographic work — it’s not just a click of the camera, it is very creative,” said Normington.

Art Walk operates under the umbrella of the Castlegar Arts Council which also oversees the Kootenay Festival and the Castlegar Embetsu exchange. Their mission is to increase and broaden the opportunities for Castlegar and area citizens to enjoy and participate in cultural activities and Art Walk certainly helps them fulfill that goal.

This year’s event will run from June 20 through Sept. 20. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, June 22 at the Castlegar Community Complex between 7 and 8:30 p.m. Each artist will have one piece of art on display at the reception. The reception is a great way to get an overview of what Art Walk has to offer this year. Jim and Barb Sinclair will be providing entertainment on mandolin and strings. Refreshments will also be provided.

The Art Walk brochure includes a map of all the venues, which display the Art Walk poster in their windows, indicating they are a stop on the walk.

Information on Art Walk can be found on the Culture at the Confluence web site, Castlegar Arts Council Facebook page or by emailing castlegararts@gmail.com.