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Column: Spectacular Shuswap scenery inspires fabulous art – Salmon Arm Observer



There is an abundance of spectacular scenery to inspire marvelous art in the Shuswap and thus it is no wonder that so many great artists have chosen to live and create here.

Perhaps one of the best examples of an acclaimed artist that moved here is the late Daphne Odjig, who lived in Angelmont from 1976 to 1999. Not only is her work exhibited in galleries across Canada and was featured on Canadian postal stamps, she also received numerous awards and honours, including the Order of Canada.

A self-taught Indigenous artist from Ontario influenced by Picasso, who was also a fan of her, Odjig developed a unique style that blended bold colours, black outlines and abstract imagery to create paintings that depicted Aboriginal mythology, history and values. As Lisa Figueroa explained, “Daphne Odjig made it clear that an artist could live in a remote location and still have her voice heard. She helped put the Shuswap on the international artistic map and led the way for the rest of us.”

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It is not easy for artists living in small communities to make a living selling their art, unless they can find success in parallel careers, which is what the very talented Otto Pfannschmidt has done. With his degrees in visual communications and in fine art, Pfannschmidt is both a highly skilled and creative graphic artist as well as an imaginative visual artist, whose work is familiar to many of us. Not only did he design my book, Everything Shuswap, his whimsical designs have often been used for calendars and Roots and Blues Festival posters and promotional materials.

Local products such as wine and cheese have unique packaging designed by Pfannschmidt, and his paintings of the Shuswap commissioned to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary form a permanent exhibit on the second floor of the Salmon Arm city hall and courthouse building. The Shuswap is fortunate to have such a gifted artist contributing so much to our community, thus making it an even better place to live.

Read more: Column: Shuswap reimagined by its own Group of Seven

Read more: Column: More to be done to enhance arts, culture scene

Not only is she a popular local classical and jazz pianist, Jen Dyck is also gaining recognition as an extremely creative and unique visual artist whose work has been shown locally, as well as in Calgary, Toronto, New York City and Virginia. While she does sometimes work with acrylics or pastels, her primary medium is collage. Dyck describes her artwork as narrative in nature with a focus on the human condition and often she utilizes dreams for inspiration.

It could be said that most everyone has hidden artistic talents, and if given the opportunity could produce worthwhile art under optimal circumstances. Fortunately the Shuswap now has Meikle Studios that is open to the public for painting classes and parties. Located in downtown Salmon Arm on Lakeshore Drive, the studios or “local art house,” is run by self-taught artist Adam Meikle and his wife Jenna, who came here from Alberta in 2016.

As most, every artist appreciates opportunities to market their art, Lori Talerico’s gallery and studio on Marine Park Drive in Salmon Arm provides that key function. A full-time artist, Talerico’s landscape and portraiture paintings range from realistic to expressionistic. In addition to selling local and Canadian art, she offers classes for emerging artists.

Another excellent local artist whose work has been widely exhibited is Joyce Dorey, whose paintings focus on the beauty she finds in her garden. It was not until later in life that she attended art school at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and also the Winnipeg School of Art. Influenced by the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, her bold, colourful paintings of flowers can fill viewers with joy.

Over the years, Lynn Erin has helped to promote the North Shuswap with her delightful and, at times, profound art. A multi-media artist whose work includes acrylics, sketches, watercolours and sculptures, Erin was trained in Manitoba and moved to the Shuswap in 1990. Her art pieces are in collections around the world and have won many awards. For a number of years, her Fireweed Gallery provided a cultural hub for the North Shuswap community and is currently an online venue.

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How the arts might help us grapple with climate change –



When Omar El Akkad wrote his 2017 dystopian novel American War, about a second U.S. civil war after land loss due to climate change, he considered it a “deliberately grotesque” view of a possible future on a degraded planet.

But just three years later, the Egyptian-Canadian author says his climate fiction — or “cli-fi,” as the genre is sometimes called — doesn’t seem so fictional anymore.

“The world that I’m describing is not as far away from the real world as it was when I started writing this book,” he said in an interview with Laura Lynch, host of CBC Radio’s What on Earth.

While it’s hard to know what effect any one work has on the audience, creators — from authors to filmmakers to visual artists — are making a case for their role in tackling climate change: to engage people’s emotions and imagination in ways that straight data just won’t.

“Film … has the capacity to move people in a number of ways simultaneously … intellectually,  emotionally, viscerally, all at the same time,” said filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal in an interview with Lynch.

“Using that medium to open up that consciousness, to move people in that way is our goal. Whether it works or not is another matter.”

  • Listen to What on Earth on CBC Radio 1 every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. in Newfoundland

Art has ‘a fundamental role’

There’s a lot we don’t know about what kind of communication truly engages people to take action on climate change, and it’s unlikely to be one-size-fits-all.

But one approach that researchers have repeatedly shown doesn’t work is the so-called deficit model or the idea that people will change their behaviour related to some problem — say, the effects of smoking — if only they had more information about it.

A still from the multi-sensory installation Breathe, created by Diego Galafassi, who says art can engage imaginations and help people confront the complex challenges of climate change. (Phi Centre)

Values, beliefs and emotional context are all key, said Diego Galafassi, a Stockholm-based visual artist and sustainability scientist who has studied the use of art in moving people to adopt more environmentally sustainable practices.  

“A lot of our actions and behaviours derive from this imaginary dimension of our existence,” he said. “This is where the arts play a really fundamental role.”

Last year, Galafassi did a residency in Montreal where he worked on a “mixed-reality experience” called Breathe. Combining performance and augmented reality, this immersive project set out to convey how human breath is connected to the broader living world, as a way of showing how dependent we are on the environment. 

The challenges associated with climate change “are of such a magnitude that we cannot approach them only as technical problems, as something we could fix only by changing some policies,” said Galafassi. 

He said art can be a powerful way to convey the complexity of the problem and “close the gap between what we know and what we actually do about climate change.”

‘It’s very hard’

There is not much data about the ability of art to change people’s behaviour, but those who have looked into it say that art — no matter how profound — has its limits when it comes to persuasion on this topic.

While art can be a catalyst for change, it’s not guaranteed, said Laura Sommer, a Norway-based researcher who has studied how art can change attitudes about climate change. 

“It’s very hard … generally for artists to create something that connects with people and is really changing something. It’s not that every artwork can do it.”

In 2015, Sommer was part of a research team that tried to pinpoint what kind of art would spur people to change their behaviour.

They studied reactions to 37 artworks in a climate art festival that ran alongside COP21, the international climate conference that eventually led to the Paris Accord, in which countries agreed on steps that would limit global warming this century to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

The team then had nearly 900 spectators respond to a questionnaire on their perception of the works, which was summarized in a study co-authored by Sommer and published in 2019. 

Reactions to what Sommer called “activist art” clustered into different themes: “the comforting utopia,” “the challenging dystopia,” “the mediocre mythology” and “awesome solutions.”  

Breaking the Surface by Michael Pinsky was one of the art installations on display at the COP21 conference in Paris in 2015. Objects that had been discarded into the water were raised to the surface, with an eerie soundtrack created by playing the metal refuse as instruments. (Michael Pinsky)

What the researchers found was that only three of the 37 works — the ones grouped under “awesome solutions” — were rated as effective in motivating behaviour change.

This included an installation that looked like a wall full of flowers, “but when you got closer, you could see it was plastic lids that were upcycled and turned into something beautiful,” said Sommer. 

Another was an installation on the Seine River depicting a blue whale, where people could walk into its belly and read about biodiversity loss. 

“It was, on the one hand, showing something exciting and amazing about nature but also showing the human effect on nature [and] showing what could be done,” said Sommer.

The solution problem 

But that leads to a fundamental question: Is art’s role to provide answers? 

One of the most prominent works about climate change in recent years is Anthropocene, a collaboration between photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. 

The film and photo exhibition vividly captures how we have exploited sites around the world — from the Great Barrier Reef off Australia to potash mines in Russia — to fuel our consumer-oriented lifestyles.

The work is epic and visually stunning, but Baichwal said “there was criticism that [Anthropocene] wasn’t strident enough about what people should do.”

WATCH | Anthropocene explores humans’ impact on the planet:

Three artists have made it their mission to put humanity’s impact on the environment on display. CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault spoke to the artists to discuss Anthropocene, the documentary and multimedia exhibit. 9:04

Baichwal acknowledged that with any environmental art, “there’s a danger … that people won’t take away what you want them to take away.” 

In the case of Anthropocene, “all we want is an opening up of consciousness about the fact that these places of extraction and waste that exist all over the world are directly related to our everyday lives.”

Galafassi said that art is not really meant to provide all the answers, which is why it cannot be a panacea for the problem of communicating the severity of climate change.

Art is “a space where we can ask these very difficult questions and explore things in a more open-ended way and not be committed to solutions,” he said. 

“The artistic process has its own way to get to questions and perhaps new questions, deeper questions. It’s really a way to grapple with the complexity of these issues that we have.”

El Akkad says climate change and related issues are so encompassing, art dealing with them will cease to be a genre.

“If you are in a creative endeavour, if you are in the business of trying to describe the messiness of human life, you are not going to be able to ignore that aspect of it,” he said. 

“This is going to impact everything.”

With files from Lisa Johnson

Listen to What on Earth on CBC Radio 1 every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. in Newfoundland.

You can also subscribe to What on Earth on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also listen anytime on CBC Listen.

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Arts Society King encourages artists to submit work to original art challenge –



The people behind Arts Society King wanted to get people engaged with art despite a worldwide pandemic.

That’s where the original art challenge came to fruition.

“When the coronavirus came along and everything started getting shut down, I sort of said to the board of directors, ‘We should do some sort of art challenge,’” said Michele McNally, vice president of Arts Society King.

McNally was inspired by the rainbows children had made and put in their windows as a way to lift spirits during the pandemic.

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“I thought, ‘The kids are doing all this artwork, why doesn’t Arts Society King put out there that we’re going to have an original art challenge?’ And it doesn’t just have to be paintings. It can be poetry, it can be TikTok videos, writing short stories, whatever you like,” she said.

The response from the artist community in King has been amazing, McNally said.

A special Facebook page was made for the challenge where the art is posted.

The challenge has garnered about 40 submissions through Facebook or Instagram by tagging Arts_Society_King.

McNally said she was hoping more youth and children would participate in the challenge, but that hasn’t been the case.

There isn’t a prize to be won because McNally didn’t want to make it a contest with an end date.

“I decided not to make it like a contest with a prize at the end with a deadline and hopefully it would just perpetuate itself,” McNally said. 

Established artist Bill Lunshof decided to participate in the challenge as a way to express his passion for painting.

“I just thought it would be fun to post and see what happens,” Lunshof said.

Lunshof is a longtime member of Arts Society King who has been painting on and off for about 10 years and has been doing it full time for the last four years.

Lunshof uses oil paints as his medium. He paints in a style he calls “looser.”

“I’m trying to paint in more of a plein air style where somebody paints outside and paints quickly. I’m trying to loosen up my style a little bit and get away from all the detail,” he said.

Lunshof paints every day and his style has progressed naturally.

“I think (painting) is just my passion. It’s how I express myself,” he said.

Arts Society King is a volunteer-run not-for-profit that promotes, celebrates and advocates for art in King Township.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Reporter Laura Broadley noticed social media posts from artists in King and wanted to find out what it was all about.

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U’mista Cultural Centre will host a native art contest to raise funds for artists



U’mista Cultural Centre has called on the artists of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw descent to participate in a native art contest to be held on August 28.

Indigenous artists have been economically affected due to COVID-19 slowing down business and tourism said Joseph Isaac, U’mista Cultural Centre’s business manager.

The contest is a fun way for people to engage with arts and raise funds, said Isaac.

The contest is open for children and adults and two winners will be selected from each of the three categories. Winners will also receive cash prizes ranging from $250- $1000. The artwork design produced will be used for the logo of U’mista’s merchandise.

The theme for the contest is ‘resilience.’

“Our people are extraordinary stories of resilience,” said Isaac and added that First Nation communities have historically been resilient through pandemics and residential schools.

The society is also planning to host an art exhibition, featuring works of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw artists from across the region.

“We’re going to be reaching out to our community to participate in the exhibition,” said Isaac. The exhibition will be held at the U’mista cultural centre in Alert Bay.

The exhibition will also mark the 40th anniversary of the U’mista Cultural Centre.

U’mista Cultural Centre is one of the longest-operating and most successful First Nations cultural facilities in BC, founded in 1980 as a ground breaking project to house potlatch artifacts which had been seized by government during an earlier period of cultural repression.

‘U’mista’ which also means ‘the return of something important’ operates a museum and cultural education facility in Alert Bay.

Source:- Campbell River Mirror

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