The goal of this community project was to support artists through the challenges of COVID-19, and to bring together members of the community to celebrate the diversity of culture and the diversity of people living in their local neighbourhoods. Supported by the Town of Canmore's Economic Development Pandemic Response Plan, nine artists were hired to work with nine neighbourhoods to create artwork that spanned from murals to mini museums, and from sculpture to sound files.
Hundreds of people took part in the project, and hundreds more will benefit from the art created and the relationships forged.
Scroll down to see descriptions of the projects, images, and information about the artists hired to work with the communities.
Community Artist: Kristy Wolfe
Community Participants: Rick & Lydia, Maryann, Wendy, Jette, Sandy, Marilyn, Bill & Marion, Percy
Community: Canmore Seniors
Project Description: Over the course of six weeks, our community came together to create visual stories using photographs. Each participant chose a theme that was important to them, either by capturing new images or by re-purposing images they already had. Each visual artist tells a different story; a story of their experience, a story of their history. Individually, each artist created a final product of their own story ranging from posters to digital videos. Together our project is made up of a single representative image of each person’s final product.
Kristy Wolfe’s experience as a medical mom lies at the heart of her passion for documentary style photography. Based in Canmore, Alberta with her husband and two sons, Kristy has been telling stories through photography for the past 8 years. When Kristy’s son, Kane, was born 8 weeks early in 2012, she had her camera with her during most of the 54 days her family spent in the NICU. Six months later she began sharing her family’s story through images, photographing their time in the hospital during Kane’s heart surgery in 2013 and again in 2019.
Kristy offers storytelling photography sessions for families and organizations, as well as Pay It Forward sessions that can be gifted to medical, special needs or palliative families. Kristy's background as a teacher inspires her love for mentoring others. Her most recent projects, including her book Tell Your Story Through Photography, are about teaching others how to narrate their experiences through photography.
Community Artist: Libby Pryor
Community: Canmore Legion
Project Description: Celebrating community, inclusion, creativity and Veterans, the Poppy Mural is a public art project filled with heart. Participants joined together to create a mural which pays respect to our Veterans, whilst bringing a bright meadow scene to the heart of the community.
The Bow Valley Connections Centre strives to provide social opportunities for those with developmental disabilities. Participants eagerly painted for their community through wind and snow, creating a beautiful mural for the residents of Canmore to enjoy. The mural honours Veterans and the Legion-- the space that hosts Bow Valley Connection Centre meetings. Through painting the mural, participants shared bonding experiences with their friends, and were seen by the larger community, thanks to Flip City Films who filmed and shared their stories. The Poppy Mural at its heart celebrates community and inclusion of everyone within our communities.
Hoping to share visual art skills, Libby created the poppy design and made matching stencils for participants to use. The use of stencils allowed the mural to look unified, and set participants, of all different skill sets, up for success. Through painting sessions, participants got to explore colour theory, value, brush techniques such as stippling, and the use of texture to create five poppies, while also creating their very own collograph prints!
Libby Amber Pryor is a painter creating art grounded in nature. Enamoured by the Canadian Rockies Libby grew up chasing adrenaline down mountainsides with skis strapped to her feet, and summers within the peaceful lull of a canoe.
Libby creates realistic watercolour paintings exploring Canada’s unique ecosystems, taking inspiration from her time observing small wonders. Her vibrant acrylic paintings celebrate a life lived outdoors, and the magic we feel while exploring.
Libby’s creative adventures in the wild continue: in 2020 Libby gained her Natural History Illustration Certificate through the University Of Newcastle while exploring an off-grid island in the Broughton Archipelago, B.C. Residing in Canmore, Libby shares her passion for art and nature with others through teaching. Libby looks forward to exploring more of Canada and using her artwork as a voice to protect our precious biological communities.
Follow more of her adventures here:
Community Artist: Lesley Russell
Project Description: Over the past few months I had the pleasure of working with all generations of the Avens community on an exciting new Public Art installation.
This Place Marker, was created by engaging the youth, current residents and Stoney First Nation elders to create an art installation, honouring the history, people and places of the area.
Avens - Past, Present, Future
A three-sided laser cut ‘A’ standing 5’6” high by 4’ wide. Each side representing the past, present and future of the community.
The Past: we reached out to Stoney First Nation elders regarding the historical relevance of the area and importance of the Avens flower. We had the pleasure of listening to wonderful stories surrounding the history of the area and are delighted to use the Stoney language, sharing their names of the Avens area and flower, all laser cut to represent the posts of a tee pee, and all while emphasizing the concept of the passing of time.
The Present: while engaging the present Avens community it was decided to share all of the current areas that make up the Avens. These were laser cut into the steel in various fonts to represent the wonderful variety of the community, each word is punctuated with a life size Avens flower.
The Future: working with the youth of the community, this side was laser cut predominantly with multiple Avens flowers, with a quote written by them sharing their respect of the past and hopes for their future.
Throughout all 3 sides there are spattering of Avens flowers holding all generations of the community together.
Lesley Russell has dedicated her life to the arts growing up in Scotland surrounded by rugged landscapes, industrial buildings and stunning historical architecture. This diverse landscape sparked her interest in the arts while helping her to explore her visual language.
Educated at Dundee University she obtained a degree in Fine art and a Masters degree in public art. Moving to Canada over 20 years ago starting the design partnership, Russell and Russell Design Studios.
As a conceptual artist committed to public art, she has continually addressed the concept of community, exploring the idea of home and the passage of time. Developing and sharing concise concepts while creating an emotional public connection. Her interest in history from the individuals’ perspective helps to shape her work, while using varied materials to convey these concepts from exaggerated photography, the written word, to heavy timber’s giving her an extensive visual language.
“Public art is the ability to share a clear concept while creating thought-provoking work that sparks understanding, emotion and dialogue within the community”
Community Artist: Adrienne Lawlor
Project Description: Our project, entitled “Rundleview Rocks,” promoted community engagement through the creation, sharing and distribution of painted rocks. This project reflected our desire to engage as many residents as possible, capturing a diversity of voices, backgrounds and resident status (part-time/full-time). Our use of rocks, a readily available and accessible natural material, reflects our close geographic proximity to the Rundle Mountain Range and our desire to create “stepping stones” for ongoing connection among residents.
After meeting as a core group to develop our idea and plan, participation in the project was promoted through the creation and distribution of doorknob informational flyers, inviting residents to engage in “Rundleview Rocks” in several ways, including:
- Participation in two “maker workshops” held outside on Rundle Pointe cul-de-sac on October 2 and 3, 2020.
- Obtaining and using an at-home “maker kit” of art materials to paint rocks within the comfort of their own home.
- Viewing and sharing posts/photos/video instructional tutorials in a private Facebook group entitled “Rundeview Rocks.”
- Participation in a community celebration on October 18, 2-4 pm at the local Rundleview Parkette where we showcased residents' local food/beverage businesses or specific artistic skills (e.g. photography, creation of informational flyers, live musical performance).
- Fostering ongoing neighborhood engagement by sharing of photos/stories/clues connected to hidden and discovered rocks using Instagram #rundleviewrocks.
- Accessing the Facebook group as a “community directory” to share resources and information, and using this means of connection as a “stepping stone” to promote future collaborative projects (eg. beautifying the entrance to Rundleview, building a board to post information related to the neighbourhood including "block parties", need for snow shovelling or dog walking, etc).
Community Artist: Enza Apa
Community: Railway Ave.
Project Description: The Curbside Museum worked with its neighbours to create a special group exhibition specifically for the Town of Canmore Community Art Project. This group exhibition spanned the entire length of the fence, and included nine new micro-museums, each created or curated by members of the community.
The intention of this exhibit was to give neighbours access to a space in which to celebrate or share their collecting obsessions, favourite objects, art, or anything else. All ages and artistic abilities were welcomed.
There was no set agenda or theme for the exhibition, which made each display feel like a tiny glimpse into the personal world of its creator. The exhibition offered an opportunity to “see” people up close, during a time when closeness and connection hasn’t been possible.
The group exhibition runs until January 6, 2021.
Enza is an independent producer and writer, working on projects that intersect the disciplines of museology, visual arts, music, and film. She is also the founder and curator of the Curbside Museum – an ongoing art project launched in 2017.
The Curbside Museum is an exhibition space tucked in a fence along Railway Avenue and Pinewood Crescent in Canmore. It is an ever-changing and unexpected artistic intervention for curious passers-by, with regular shows presented every 7-8 weeks. www.curbsidemuseum.ca
Project Description: The Cougar Creek Community Flags are linoprinted canvas flags that are hanging on the pedestrian bridge over Cougar Creek. These flags were created this fall by a diverse collection of community members in the Cougar Creek neighborhood. This project was funded through a generous grant from the Town of Canmore. The project was conceived of, coordinated, and led by local artist Fonda Sparks. Over the course of a few months, the group came together to learn how to create a design, transfer their designs to lino; and carve then print the lino onto canvas material. Many participants had never heard of linoprinting prior to undertaking the project. Although new to the medium, and with very little practice, all of the participants went on to create beautiful and engaging works of art. The design of each lino was left up to the imagination of the individual participants in order to showcase what each person and their family is passionate about. This unlimited degree of artistic freedom allowed these members to create works of art as diverse as our greater community. Each of the unique designs was combined with three others to create individual flags that represent the stories of our town. The flags are a colourful reminder that art lives in all of us. The twenty different flags spanning the Cougar Creek pedestrian bridge will provide community members who live and play in the area an opportunity to get to know their neighbours a little better. This is a project that serves to enhance and brighten the landscape for those who call Canmore home as well as visitors to our beautiful town.
Community Artist: Kate Gauthier Riggs
Community: South Canmore
Project Description: The South Canmore Community came together to meet new people, have fun and make art in the park during our warm and beautiful fall. Each artwork was created by at least 4 community members in a “pass the paper" style art game. Each member drew a part of the Canmore inspired figure, folded over that section so it remained unseen and passed the paper to the next member, and the next and the next until the paper has finished and a unique and strange Canmore creature is revealed! The final drawing was then transferred onto a panel and painted. The final pieces are currently hanging on Bow River Pedestrian Bridge. These portraits are on display on the Bow River Pedestrian Bridge until January 6, 2021.
Kate Gauthier-Riggs was born in Stony Plain, Alberta. She is the youngest and only daughter to Marie and Don, musicians and teachers. She grew up in a musical family. Her two brothers mastering multiple instruments while little Kate just wanted to paint and draw instead of practicing the variety of musical instruments her parents tried to ignite her passionate over. Kate has a degree in Fine Arts from ACAD and a degree in Education from UBC.
Kate’s artwork has evolved over the years but she has always kept an enchanted, dramatic mood. Her art is always evolving. “You can control it or try to confine it but eventually it evolves and will evolve beyond your constraints.” She likes to approach making art “like a discipline much like sports or going to the gym. If you wait for the motivation to naturally come, you will be waiting a long time”. Being the catalyst starts the evolution process. Kate wants to show the audience what could be seen if you look at something the right way.
You can follow her on Instagram @gauthierriggs_artstudio and www.katherinegauthier-riggs.com.
Community Artist: Kathryn Cooke
Community: Policeman's Creek
Project Description: The Policeman’s Creek Condo Community Building project was a prolonged opportunity for interested members of the community to come together and get to know each other through the process of art making. The community chose to focus their creative energy on figurative sculpture making with the slogan of “Community Connections” as words of inspiration. The numbers were initially few and projects proceeded at varying paces. In addition, One member chose photography as a means of connecting, which provided documentation of the community members as they participated but was also thematically aligned.
Over a number of organizational meetings, a swap and sale designed to accumulate material for the sculpture, and the sculpture building sessions, community relationships were forged. The project culminated in a Halloween outdoor party which featured dance, lead by Nicole; interpretive community movement, lead by myself; song performed by one community member; and general safe gathering outdoors by many community members. It was a multigenerational, multicultural gathering which inspired the possibility of further community initiatives in the future. Nicole is currently working on compiling a video of the events in sequence.
The project was greatly enjoyed by myself and all others who participated in the making, performing and witnessing.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of this kind of community building endeavour.
Community Artist: Peig Abbott
Community: Lady MacDonald/Grotto
Project Description: For over 5 years, a magnificent bull elk roamed the community of Cougar Creek. He became known to many as Wally, Marvin, Uncle Buck, Boris... and more. He was a gentle giant that adopted our community as a safe haven, integrating seamlessly in our daily life while overtly conscious of neighbourly coexistence without causing significant damage, injury or turmoil. This is not a story about human-wildlife conflict; quite the opposite! It is an entry point to a larger conversation about celebration and responsibility in choosing to live, work and play in this amazing town. It highlights features of mountain living with our treasured wildlife and how to coexist safely and respectfully. We cannot ignore that wildlife sometimes chooses to live with us; an experience that changes individuals, communities, and the creatures whose domain we inhabit.
Wally’s legacy is one that has tied this community together, celebrated through stories and folklore. Now a collection of such stories has been compiled into a self-guided walking tour and you can find all the details here. Small recognizable elk signs will identify key points of interest that correspond with downloadable audio files to accompany you on a virtual journey of Wally and the many lives he has touched.
Peig began her artistic journey through the tactile manipulation of paint, but once introduced to clay she immediately fell in love with the process of sculpture. This love affair led her to sell everything she owned and drive from Victoria to Halifax, where she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Her work lies beyond skill and aesthetics: it is a catalyst for conversation that is rooted in service and healing.