Art & Culture in Merritt and the Nicola Valley

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Shop Local in Merritt, BC – Vision Quest Optical and Gifts

Looking for Things To Do in the Nicola Valley? 

Shop Local in Merritt, BC – Vision Quest Optical and Gifts

“Come Downtown and Buy Something!” 

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Decorative BC designed drum bag

Jeanine Gustafson, owner of Vision Quest Optical and Gifts, encourages people to shop local in Merritt BC and support our businesses. That’s the message she would like to send out to the people who live in the Nicola Valley.

Vision Quest is an eclectic shop right on the corner of Quilchena and Voght Street, a corner everyone passes when they are downtown Merritt. Jeanine has a prime location on the main block, and fills her windows with a lively display all year round. If you pop in to see what’s there, you’ll find jewelry, gems, glass frames, toys, cards, books and local art.

On the Quest for Vision Services? Glass Frames? 

Jeanine is an optician with 30 years experience and her shop began as a way for her to offer optical services to the people in the community. You can find a room full of diverse frames for children, women, and men in Vision Quest shop, and Jeanine can help you find a frame you like and fulfill your prescription. She offers one more great choice in the community before a person decides to head off for Kamloops or to online services. Definitely worth checking out!

Looking for Local Art? 

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Bead Jewelry Galore

Over the ten years Jeanine has been providing options for vision care, she has expanded the offerings in her shop. Vision Quest is full of art, crafts, and jewelry created by about 40 local artists. 

All year round there are gifts, mementos, and useful items to choose from: cards by Marilyn Lytton, blankets from Amelia Washington, handmade soap from Les Keys, baskets and beading from Charles McKay. 

Jeanine herself creates feather earrings and other jewelry. There are painted tiles and jewelry by Pauline Ouellet, cards by photographer Heidi Koehler, beading by Ashala Harvie. And beautiful pained rocks by local artist Georgina Beatty! 

1st Nations Art 

Jeanine says the majority of the artists showing their work at Vision Quest are 1st Nations from the Nicola Valley, and some

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

1st Nations Art

from nearby regions like Lillooet. Her contacts also provide her with 1st Nations items designed in BC to satisfy her visitors from other provinces and countries. Look for beautiful designs on drum bags, a red lampshade, beaded earrings, medallions, baskets, cards…

The prices at Vision Quest are reasonable and range from about $5 to…more. I was very taken with a gorgeous across-the-shoulder bright turquoise suede bag, for just over $100. 

The local work in Jeanine’s lively, full shop is worth a leisurely search.

But I will admit that the jewelry, especially the gem jewelry, at Vision Quest often draws me through the welcoming doors on Quilchena Avenue.

Gems and Trinkets Galore!

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Gems and Jewelry

Jeanine’s windows are full of her jewelry, hanging or displayed in photo frames. And once you are in the shop, the jewelry is displayed in every cabinet, and in every nook and cranny. Amethysts, rose quartz, topaz, garnets, you name it. There are simple pendants to elaborately set jewelry, rings, earrings, bracelets in all shapes and colours.

There is also a diverse assortment of costume jewelry and a variety of pretty bags for storing your gems and trinkets.

What else? 

Jeanine carries local books from local authors when possible, fun toys for kids, guitar pics…

And a good supply of beading supplies: seed beads, gem beads, and others, and lots of supporting items like thread.

Business in Merritt 

I asked Jeanine what support she gets from the community. And her reply, “I am still open.” 

Shopping Local in Merritt, BC

Tiny decorative painted bird houses

In my opinion, with years of experience in owning a retail business myself, ten years is a success story!

Jeanine Gustafson is the owner of Vision Quest, renting her prime location from the local owners of the building. She has been open for ten years and is very familiar with what works downtown, and what doesn’t. She talks about how she is supported by the City of Merritt’s policies and attention. 

What can be better? 

However, Jeanine is very clear about what does not work and the trouble she has sometimes in her dealings with the City, like keeping the cobblestones level to reduce hazards to pedestrians and make it easier for wheelchairs and walkers. 

She discusses things that a city and the locals can do to support business in the community. What Jeanine chats about sounds a lot like the discussions that I hear happening at group meetings like the Business Resurgence, Vision Merritt, and the talks of

speakers at the Community Futures seminar.

We talked about business licenses, signage, opening days, first impressions…

What Works? 

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Hand made baby moccasins

Jeanine talks about other businesses and organizations which are supportive. For instance, she mentions how helpful the Open Door was to her. And comments on the support that Work BC has given to people she knows. 

“All sorts of fun people come in!” 

Jeanine enjoys the people who come in. She has regulars who pop in for tea and chats. She serves a steady flow of people coming in for optician services. And she welcomes all the visitors to town who make their way through her doors.

As we know, Merritt attracts people from all over the world. Jeanine often acts as an ambassador and tells people where to go in town, and what is happening locally. She has stories she shares with visitors, things I didn’t know about the history of some of the surrounding buildings and I’ve lived here for a lot longer….

What do you enjoy the most?

I asked Jeanine what she enjoys most about her business. After a moment’s thought, she describes the fun she has setting up

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Feather earrings by Jeanine Gustafson

the Christmas windows! Jeanine possesses the considerable Christmas village collection of the late Marguerite Kempin, a long time resident of the valley. It takes Jeanine a month to set it up, with no days off! And it will take a month to take down, ready for the next display! So it was great to hear that is a favourite part of her shop experiences.

I enjoy the Christmas window! And I know others who do too, some who take their grandchildren downtown to view it all.

Have you seen it? Whoops, it may be too late for this year. But the next display in Vision Quest’s display windows, on the corner of Voght Street and Quilchena Avenue will be there soon. Stroll by! Pop in!

Vision Quest is open Tuesday to Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.

But Jeanine is open on Mondays in the summer months. She says Monday is a busy day in Merritt in the summer!

And how will she keep going in the slow months? Jeanine’s message to the locals: “Come downtown and buy something!”

Now that’s a positive message that supports all the shops in Merritt!

Thanks, Jeanine! Good visit! 

Shop local in Merritt BC

Blue suede bag

 

Contact Jeanine Gustafson at Vision Quest visionquestoptical@gmail.com 

Vision Quest Optical and Gifts Facebook

More on the arts and culture scene in the Nicola Valley

And if you want to see more local art visit our local Arts Gallery at the heritage Courthouse on Nicola Avenue. 

And visit our Nicola Valley Arts Council site, to see what’s happening in the arts in our valley.

The NVCAC is also on Facebook. 

And check out my Creative Community Facebook page.

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Shopping at Vision Quest

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Country Christmas – Things to Do in Merritt, BC!

​Country Christmas Week Here in Merritt, BC!

Country Christmas delivers fun and community spirit…

​With a Festival of Trees, a Community Choir event, the Love to Dance Performance, our fabulous Christmas Parade, and shopping til midnight!

“We keep having to paint more little festive canvases as people buy them right off the tree!​”

Country Christmas

Tiny Painted Canvas Decorations

Our Country Christmas week is spectacular! It takes place during the last week of November and is one of the best things to do in Merritt.

My own experience started a few days before the week of celebration with the arrival of our tree at the Courthouse Gallery. For several years the Festival of Trees has involved an inspired number of businesses and non-profit groups. The groups each decorate a tree in their own fashion, from classic to creative, 

This means we have trees decorated with hockey pucks, ballet slippers, and peacock feathers-and everything in between. One year I decorated our Pop Up Shop tree with little dolls and teddy bears (all with sparkle halos on their heads) and rainbow feather boa garlands.

Festival of Trees 

Country Christmas

Festival of Trees Past at CMHF

For the first years of Country Christmas, all the trees were set up on the main street of town, in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s a beautiful building with hard wood floors, high ceilings, and western-style chandeliers. The venue attracted locals and visitors from neighboring towns to see our Festival of Trees.

This year for the Festival of Trees event, all the decorated trees are spread out around the town, and people head out to do the tree tour. We adorned our tree at the Courthouse Gallery with tiny canvases, painted by local artists and interested Creatives. We keep having to paint more little canvases as people are buying them right off the tree! And all the money supports the Gallery.

Love to Dance Performance

Country Christmas

Love to Dance “Museum of Art”

This year, for the Country Christmas festivities, the Love to Dance Academy​ presented “Museum of Art”. Dance teachers Lizette Nel and Vanessa van Rensburg choreographed the dances which involved dancers of all ages, from adorable tots to graceful seniors. 

Herman Nel looked after the creation of the sets designed by Vanessa and Lizette, as well as the lights and music. Over a hundred colourful and gorgeous costumes and dresses were designed and sewn by talented members of the Merritt Dance Society. And there were plenty of volunteers, parents and dance lovers, who helped pull off the beautiful event. 

The two-hour long performance was presented at both an afternoon matinee, with classes of children arriving on school buses, and a stellar evening performance. 

Michelle Etchart, local songstress, performed two moving pieces while dancing continued around her. 

Country Christmas

Michelle Etchart

The night performance was captured on video, with CD’s available. I attended the matinee, and will be sure to acquire the evening performance CD. Worth watching again! And kudos to all those involved, with special recognition to the dancers showing such professionalism in putting on the two events in the same day!

Thanks to the Love to Dance Academy!

Christmas Concert!

Talk about things to do in Merritt! The night after the dance performances, several choirs and singing groups, duos, and soloists, provided a soul-satisfying musical evening to a large crowd at the Merritt Civic Center. (That’s the farthest away from the doors I have ever had to park in my many years of Merritt living!) 

Country Christmas

Merritt Community Band

The Merritt Community Band was there, the Community Choir, and more…

Also, Cecilia Dyck and Caitlyn Stephanie Walsh played piano duets, the four Snees entertained, and Michelle Etchart again performed with her spot on renditions.

And not only did the groups and soloists perform their own pieces, but the collaborations amongst them, and even the audience, brought the community together in inspired evening of music.

Well done! Bravo!

Then the Santa Parade…

I have heard that our Santa Parade is the largest in the world! The country? Our province? Well, I’ll wait to be informed properly but I do think the Nicola Valley Santa Parade is one of the best things to do in Merritt!

Country Christmas

Santa Parade 2018, Merritt Herald photo

​The Merritt Country Christmas Santa Parade’s success shows what stuff our community is made of. We are tough, determined, hard working, creative, and ready to have fun…and all in support of our businesses and organizations.

And this year’s parade tested all of those qualities because it started to rain as the parade entries were lining up, started to pour as it got going, and the rain didn’t quit until near the end, when big fat snowflakes started to fall. People knew they’d get soaked, but they didn’t stay home. The floors of the shops, open for business until midnight after the parade, had puddles from the rain soaked customers….

Check out the photos of the rainy event on Merritt Herald‘s online coverage.

Open Mic Night, one more thing to do in Merritt during our Country Christmas week!

Country Christmas

Donna Dixon, a regular at Open Mic night

On the Friday night of the Santa Parade, I jut got wet running out to my car, and then dashing in to Kekuli Cafe. We put on a special Open Mic night that night! And we watched the rain come down, then the snow, and then mopped up the puddles that our audience left on the cafe floor when they poured in after the parade and settled in to the cozy venue.

 Mugs of hot coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were in high demand! And we invited our musicians to warm up the crowd. Al and Denise, Robert Bertrand, Willard Wallace, Quade Lindgren, Jim West…

And regulars like Doug and Donna Dixon were there to enjoy the live music.

 

It was a special Country Christmas 2018 

Pouring rain during our Santa Parade only adds to the memories!

I hope there are always Country Christmas planners and volunteers. This week is a highlight in our community. It gets all of us who participate in any way, from young to old, in the mood for the holiday season, whatever our beliefs. We come together, show off our talents, have fun, support each other and are inspired to be thankful for each other. 

So kudos to the people in our community who plan Country Christmas, who put on the events, and who participate in them to make them all worthwhile. 

Let’s recognize each other for the contributions to community that Country Christmas brings!

Country Christmas

Painted Canvases on our Gallery tree

Now, does anyone want to come to the Courthouse Gallery to paint a little canvas for our tree? I found some empty spaces again! All welcome!

And you can wave to the LTD dancers while you are there. We share the Courthouse space.

Life as I know it, Jano Howarth

Creative Community

Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

 

 

 

Country Christmas

Phyllis Laage’s Tree Decoration

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WILD! Flies, Skins, and Skulls…

WILD! Flies, Skins, and Skulls…

Creative Exhibition at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, Merritt Canada

Fishermen, Hunters, Photographers, Collectors, Artists…

Things to do in Merritt

Taxidermy, fly ties, carvings

Things to do in Merritt…A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style: taxidermy, fly ties, rods, skulls, pelts, eagle photography, moose airbrush painting. Collections of stuffed birds, birds’ nests,  shells…lots to see!

Who’s showing their nature art and collections at the Gallery?

  • Peter McVey, fly tier and fisherman extraordinaire. 
  • Willie Kiegerl, providing us with a variety of animal skulls to identify. And other wildlife. 
  • Dawn Shackelly’s eagle photography, and owls, big horn sheep, baby ducks… 
  • Jessie Rabbit with her bull calf and fireweed, her beautiful airbrush painting. 
  • Cindy Trent with collections: skulls, BC shells, sea stars, and bird’s nests 
  • Rory Hepner has provided beaver and coyote pelts, and animal skulls 
  • Artist Renee Hartwigs’ tri coloured owl and Joel Reid’s “find the bird” painting 
  • Mischelle and Bill Pierce have contributed both creatures and colourful fly ties 
  • Fran McMurchy created three small watercolour creeks for three fly ties in oak frames. Unique! 

And Murphy Shewchuck, who put down his fly rod years ago. And picked up his camera… 

A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style…

Things to do in Merritt

Nature collections and Renee Hartwig’s Owl Art

Our Nicola Valley, surrounding the town of Merritt Canada, is filled with hunters and fishermen and women. Lots of families in the area raise their children with skills to provide for their families from the land around. From berries to deer to lake trout. Children and adults alike celebrate bringing down their first deer, or catching their first salmon.

We are set in a grassland valley, filled with creeks and lakes, surrounded by rolling hills and mountain ranges. There are a lot of choices, many paths to take, and backroads to follow- to hunt, fish, gather. Lots of nature.

Our exhibition reflects this focus on nature in the area!

I have long been fascinated with the art of fly fishing and fly tying. As a child, my family just fished with rods that fit in our Rambler. We fished enough, and I enjoyed it enough, to make sure my own kids had rods and gear enough to catch Lake Trout at Monck Park, which we ate for supper on the camp fire.

But we had friends who were hooked on fly fishing, and I watched movies with fly fishing action (looks close to meditation). And I could see the charm of those long, supple rods flashing the line out over water. And the flies…

We have one of the most well-known fly tiers in our area displaying his flies, ties, and accoutrement. Peter McVey not only told stories at our WILD! Reception, but left his book so we could read more about his adventures…

We have vintage suitcases displaying flies that others have created. Works of art!

What if you wanted to get started on fly tying?

From Gear Junkie

Catching your first fish on the fly will embed new levels of appreciation for all things fly fishing.

Things to do in Merritt

Fly Tie Watercolour art by Fran McMurchy

Most fly anglers hit a point in their fishing career when they think about tying their own flies…. There’s an entirely new level of satisfaction from catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself.

The path to tying amazing flies isn’t the easiest. And the reward is 10-fold compared to that of storebought flies.

Fly tying is an angling tool that can empower you to catch more fish. Tying flies enables an angler to not only replicate their favorite bug at the fly shop but also create their own custom patterns no one else has. The only limits you face at a tying vise are imagination and creativity.

Anglers construct flies to replicate the exact bugs found in streams.

Tying also offers the avenue to get in touch with the most artistic side of fly fishing. Fully dressed Atlantic salmon flies and modern articulated streamers can be just as artistic as painting, with the hook acting as your canvas. 

Yes! That’s what I thought when, as art gallery director in our small community, we were brainstorming Art Exhibitions.

This area is filled with fishable lakes and streams. One of our oldest slogans is “A lake a day, as long as you stay!”

The Nicola Valley is a perfect place for a Fly Tie show!

Things to do in Merritt

Ruffed Grouse, birds’ nests

And, my buddy said…taxidermy too! Well, sure!

Most of us have seen taxidermied creatures, in museums, at our uncle’s house… Taxidermy is an art in itself.

What does taxidermy mean? From answers.com

Taxi is Latin for move. Dermis is Latin for Skin. Taxidermist is a mover of skin. Taxidermy is what he does. A taxis is a division of classification especially when concerning animals. Dermous means skin, Dermy is an activity concerned with skin. So — Many types of animal skin activity.

In the Nicola Valley, we have several taxidermists. They do work for locals and also do spectacular mounts for clients outside our area. I’ve seen photos…

At the Gallery we have stuffed birds: ptarmigan, ruffed grouse, blue grouse (the smart ones), a beautiful owl… And a mounted fish.

We also have amazing carvings of birds and fish that look like the real thing…

And if you want a taste of the big critters, we have photographs of mountain sheep, bald eagles, an air brush painting of a moose calf. And real antlers of moose and deer, a buffalo hoof, a coyote and beaver pelt, two bear skulls…

Lots of skulls! Of all kinds! Coyote, beaver, raccoon, fish… Hummingbird skeleton! You can barely see it!

So here we are, in the middle of an exhibition showcasing the work of many people local to our area. Collectors, painters, fly tiers, taxidermists.

Things to Do in Merritt… Come and Visit & Get Involved!

From Oct 11-Nov 3, 2018, at the Courthouse Arts Gallery.

Things to do in Merritt

WILD! Poster by Kim Leclair

Got skulls? We are looking for donated animal skulls, bones, antlers, for a painting workshop!

This should be fun…. Want to join us?

Register for Saturday, Oct 27/18. 1-3pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery in Merritt. $20. $10 if you bring your own skull…

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook Page for more info!

And if you miss it, we’d love to collect skulls and antlers for more artwork, for another time. Call 250-378-6515 to donate.

Also fly tie expert and fisherman extraordinaire, Peter McVey, is telling stories, Friday Nov 3/18, 4-6pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, 1840 Nicola Avenue, Merritt, BC

Visit Nicola Valley Arts Council‘s site for more about the arts in the Nicola Valley.

Read my blog about Open Mic Nights in Merritt, held every Friday night at Kekuli cafe 7-9pm. Come on out!

Jano Howarth, promoting creativity in our community

Jano Howarth

Jano

Welcome to Experience Nicola Valley, with news about the Nicola Valley in BC, Canada. A great destination location! I love living here...
Jano Howarth
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Artists of Merritt, Canada – Libby Dybikowski

Artist of Merritt- Libby Dybikowski

“I like to work quickly and spontaneously…”

Libby believes art can help you see the world in a different way.

Artists of Merritt

Turquoise Vase 16″x20″ Acrylic on Canvas

Libby Dybikowski is one of our popular and prolific Artists of Merritt. Her work is known for colour vibrancy, for bold brush-work, and for simple themes with lasting appeal. She says the enjoyment of the Nicola Valley surroundings and the pleasure of travel to exotic locations drive her choice of subject matter. 

I first met Libby at a Nicola Valley Community Arts Council meeting. And I discovered a focused, articulate lover of arts and cultures, with skills of great use to a social-profit organization. We worked together when I first took on the Gallery Director job for the arts council. She hung my first show, collaborating with the three lower mainland artists for the “Poetic Language of Landscape” exhibition. I will always be grateful…

Artists of MerrittI first encountered Libby’s art, when I invited her to fill some spaces for a community show we held. A lot of the art contributed by the community ended up, to a large part, smaller in scale than I anticipated. Libby’s work is all sizes. And she brought in several large canvases, covered with bold colour and form. I became a fan…

From the words of Anne MacKay, Chief of Conservation at the McCord Museum in Montreal, “Libby Dybikowski’s skillful handling of colour and form give her work an impact that is hard to deny. Strong, sensuous and daring, her paintings grab the observer at first glance, and continue to engage with every viewing.”

 

Montreal beginnings, Vancouver life… 

Artists of Merritt

Burrard Inlet, Before 18″x24″

Born in Montreal, Libby spent her first twenty or so years in Montreal. From her website: Libby has been a lifelong appreciator of the arts, including music, theatre, dance and fine art. A graduate of McGill University in French language and literature, with a year at the Université Aix-Marseille and two summers at Cornell’s Hotel School, her professional achievements prior to painting included management strategist, negotiator, and founder of a successful national executive search business. 

Libby enjoyed painting as a child, and watched her father, an architect, paint “en plein aire”. As a teenager she found more interest in music, and playing the clarinet and appreciating classical and jazz forms.

From age 20 to retirement, Libby worked in Vancouver, in human resources for Hilton International and the Bay, and as a university administrator at UBC, and finally owning and operating her own executive search firm, Provence Consulting, that specialized in searches for university administrators for universities across Canada..

Artists of Merritt – Libby Dybikowski in the Nicola Valley Artists of Merritt

Upon retirement, Libby and her husband spent more and more time in the beautiful Nicola Valley. Here she ran across a watercolour workshop given by Jean Kiegerl, picked up her brushes, and hasn’t looked back since. She switched to acrylics and now paints often, in spurts. Inspired by her surroundings: the landscapes, the animals and people around her, and her travels. Libby includes mixed media is some of her work, like paper and netting.

She has a studio where she can leave out her paintings in progress. Libby walks away from them when the artistic flow stops or slows down, and returns to them when the time is right.

One of her pastimes, between painting bursts, is spending time with her horse, Buttercup. For a while Libby also created jewelry with semi-precious stones.

More About Libby

Artists of Merritt

Libby and fellow artist Kim Vizi-Carmen

Libby enjoys playing bridge with friends.

She prefers coffee to tea, dogs to cats. 

Libby watches tennis and late night talk shows – or parts, like Stephen Colbert’s monologues. Her favourite movie is still Lawrence of Arabia. And favourite books are Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities and The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje

Libby loves to bake and enjoys French cuisine. 

And France is her favourite country to visit.

Libby loves to travel, creating her own travel adventures with her husband, Jim.

Support, Inspirations, and the place of Art in Society.

Artists of Merritt

Libby and husband Jim

Libby feels she gets a lot of support for her painting, from Jim, and her friends and fellow artists, like Kim Vizi-Carmen and Jean Kiegerl. She has received mentoring from many artists, including Joanne Beaule Ruggles and Patricia Peters. She has enjoyed painting alongside artists, like Cyndra Bradford in California. Libby says she has learned a lot in the company of other artists.

When asked about the challenges she has encountered in pursuing her art, Libby talks about the importance of pleasing herself when she paints and not being affected by the opinions of others.

 

She believes that art stretches society, that it can help you see the world in a different way. “Bigger and better…bigger skies, deeper oceans.”

Libby has long admired Canadian Group of Seven artist, Lawren Harris. She visits art galleries and museums for inspiration in cities when she travels- Paris, Barcelona, Nice. “Amazing!” And most recently, Marrakesh, a city she would return to…

Merritt 2 Marrakesh 

Artists of Merritt

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Libby is showing at the Courthouse Arts Gallery. There are over 30 paintings depicting three themes: her recent trip to Morocco and the exotic city of Marrakesh, the city of Vancouver, BC, and the Nicola Valley. From horses, to mountains, to colourful city scenes, to flower still life, and in all sizes, Libby has something for everyone to enjoy. And all of us in the Nicola Valley have the opportunity to acquire a Libby Dybikowski painting of our own.

Come and see Libby’s work at the Courthouse Arts Gallery on Nicola Valley in Merritt. Or visit Libby’s website, where you will find her paintings are available for the world.

See for yourself and tell a friend! September 6-29, 2018

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Read more about other artists of Merritt and art and culture in the Nicola Valley, here on Experience Nicola Valley.

Check out our local Nicola Valley Community Arts Council site to see what is happening in the arts in the valley.

Jano Howarth

Every work of art which really moves us is in some degree a revelation: it changes us.  Lawren Harris

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Street Market Art – Merritt, BC

Street Market Art – Merritt, BC 

Community Art in Merritt, Canada

Youth Take Leadership and make Summer Nights Street Market Art

Street Market Art

Amy Maclaren’s creative flower crown

Street Market Art is happening every Friday night for the whole summer. Amy Maclaren has laid out a plan for character creation – decorating crowns and hats, belts and sashes, masks, and even shoe fun. And her fellow workers, Amrit Ahuja, Felize Omori, and Alexia Clark are a part of the action on the downtown Quilchena block in Merritt Canada.

The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council is employing these four young people through the Youth Employment Program. So this summer, the arts community has help with all kinds of projects and programs!

From the Street Market, to Open Mic Nights, to Corbett Lake Paint Outs this young group is pitching in to make our summer events successful.

 

From Prep to the Market

Street Market Art

Alexia and Felize create flower crowns

First comes the idea of setting up an NVCAC gazebo at the Friday Summer Nights Market, and enlivening it with activities.

With Amy leading the way for this arts project, the activities planned are all about costume and character building. As a student in Costume Design, Amy’s creative direction includes everything from coloured sketches to rainbowsequins.

Amy sources her materials for the market activities in town, materials accessible to everyone who lives here or are visiting the Nicola Valley.

 

Street Market Art

Everything tied or taped down

Gazebo and other necessities are gathered and set up on Quilchena Avenue, the main block. Our first night’s set up was a gusty wind challenge. Duct tape and bricks were in place before flowers and feathers. 

Merritt is a windy town, so the locals are prepared.

But after our first night, we are adding a few bungee cords and table clips to our bin.

The YEP workers get everything set up, and then two of them leave to set up and help at Open Mic. Amrit works the sound and Felize and Alexia welcome the audience there at the Kekuli Cafe..

 

Neighbours on the Street Market

There is room for over 20 vendors or non-profits to set up on the town’s busy block. From a big food truck to gazebos, to small tables, the block is almost full. The Farmer’s market is to the west of us. And a variety of displays is to our east. 

Janet Roth is overseeing the Love to Dance Academy’s table. She is there to let people know what a great dance studio we have in town. And encourage memberships in the Love to Dance Society that supports it. 

Street Market Art

Janet Roth at the Love to Dance Academy table

Charlene Lively has set up the Pro Rodeo display, with information and some news about the High School event that was taking place just that weekend.

Street Market Art

Charlene Lively at the Pro Rodeo display

There are jewelry tables and displays of woodwork by local craftsman.

Tina has set up her Humble Hobo Hotdogs Stand at the end of the block. And there is a new Curried Chicken food truck that has line ups for their generous portions.

And there are baked good tables to pick up something sweet.

Music at the Friday Nights Market

Street Market Art

The Strange Companions

We can hear country music coming from the speakers on the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, right on Quilchena Avenue, our main street.

And if we keep going, more music…

A favourite local group, the Strange Companions, have committed to several Friday nights at the street market for the summer. They have created a board of info and calls to action, like “Go on over to Open Mics…” Read while you stop to listen!

This group has been playing together for years, with musicians and singers coming and going. We never know who is going to show up when we know The Strange Companions are playing… 

 

Back at the NVCAC Gazebo

Street Market Art

Felize and Amy help kids fancy up at the Arts table

Amy and the Youth Employment workers lay out the week’s art activity. Their first work was fancy name or character cards creation with foam letters, sparkles, and shape stickers.

The second week flower and birds were provided for crowns and embellishments like coloured feathers and foam sparkle stickers were attached to cowboy hats

Last week, the YEP workers got busy with face painting and created characters for the children coming by.

What’s up this week?

Support from the NVCAC Directors and Members

Beside our art activity table, the NVCAC Directors set up a membership table under our gazebo, ready to encourage passersby to join our Arts Council and support the arts in all of the the Nicola Valley. 

Street Market Art

Mischelle and Gale discuss the Street Market action and the dancing nearby.

Two active members, Director of Programs Mischelle Pierce, and artist and Gallery supporter, Gale Simpson, discuss all the arts action happening in town!

This week, right at the end of our Friday Nights Street Market, some good music and dancing is happening at the Adelphi Hotel. Some of our great country and western musicians play there regularly. And people come from far and wide to hear them and get up on the dance floor.

This weekend there was a group from Arizona dancing up a storm. Not sure if they were heading out to the Rockin River Fest event in the Valley. Or if they just staed in town and enjoyed the action right here on the main street.

 

Visitors from Hobart, Tasmania

Street Market Art

Jane, Jasper with mom Lani, and Jean

It’s Jasper! My grandson from down under. Jasper is chatting it up with Jane Bartle, NVCAC Treasurer, mom Lani, and president Jean Kiegerl. I think Jean is selling Jasper an Arts Council membership.

And I know Jasper ended up with enough RCMP Musical Ride tickets to take all of us! 

Jasper and family weren’t the only visitors from out of town. We have travelers weekly, often from Alberta, the States, Europe, coming to experience the Nicola Valley.

Join us for some  Street Market Art!

Come down on Friday nights 6-9pm. See what’s up, buy or make an embellished cowboy hat or flower crown. Check the current week’s activity!

Street Market Art

Wearing their embellished cowboy hats

Sashes? Shoes art? What Street Market Art are we up to?

It’s usually free, with people making donations to help us buy the next week’s activity materials….

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook page to check out the next event!

And be sure to come down and see us, listen to some music, grab some food, stop and chat. Make yourself a crown!

Jano, Arts and Culture Blogger

 

 

Street Market Art

Vanessa Trenholm led a community canvas painting again!

 

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Coffee House Music in Merritt, Canada

Coffee House Music in Merritt, Canada

Another Great Thing for Seniors to Do in the Nicola Valley

Coffee House Music – On to the Future

Remember the old underground Coffee House of the 60’s and 70’s? Come with me and enjoy all the nostalgic fun of that era minus the toke smoke and obscure poetry.

No sneaking around in dank, dark cellars either. This Coffee House is in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame at 2025 Quilchena Avenue, smack in the heart of downtown Merritt! It’s a spacious well- lit venue with great acoustics and good lighting. Add live, mostly country, music, a mix of songs from earlier times, some blues, a bit of sing-along fun and of course, coffee. Welcome to the future of the 1960’s coffee house, Merritt style.

Coffee House

Coffee House Jam in Merritt, Canada

On June 23rd, we went to check it out. Not only did we have a fantastic time, we also met several old friends and made a few new ones. Imagine my surprise when I looked around the room to discover not only the expected seniors, but also a family with five (very well-behaved) little boys and a good mix of younger people. It seems that everyone loves coffee house music!

Coffee House Entertainment

Al Horne and his wife Denise hosted, and they entertained us royally! Everyone enjoyed their music. We seniors because we remembered most of the “oldies” they sang and could sing along. The kids caught on to the chorus quickly.

They especially loved the hand clapping and foot stomping bits.

I so love to watch Denise and Al perform. A sweetness shows between them as they peek at each other for cues or just flash a quick, encouraging grin back and forth. Their give and take banter always gets a laugh too. They offer us these naturally, warm, “feel good” moments without even realizing they are doing it! It’s obvious to everyone that they’re having as good a time as we are. Makes the coffee house atmosphere so friendly and personal.

Coffee House Feature Act – Bobby Garcia

Every coffee house needs a feature act and Bobby Garcia certainly delivers! In person he

Coffee House

Bobby Garcia

seems quiet, polite and a little shy, but on stage he sure can sing up a storm! Backed by Herb MacLellan, we were surprised and delighted to hear this young man sing the oldies that we grew up with, as well as some modern country. This talented entertainer not only writes a lot of his own songs, but sings them as well! He was nice enough to let me take his picture during the break. And as you can see, he’s a cutie!

Bobby has been a popular singer/songwriter in Merritt for some time. But did you know that he recently recorded an album in Nashville, which is  available online and here in Merritt? Nashville’s interest can only be a good sign! Best of luck to Merritt’s own Bobby Garcia!

Coffee House Entertainment – Robert Bertrand

Coffee House

Robert Bertrand

What fun we had with Robert Bertrand on stage. That truly was a trip down memory lane! I have to admit I’m pretty good at recognizing country songs as far back as the 1930’s. My dad used to sing them to me when I was a baby and they really stuck! Robert stumped me but good though when he took the old cowboy songs and blues back past that era. We all enjoyed the music but some of the older audience really got it! I wonder, did their daddies sing to them too?

If you like Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson, you would certainly enjoy Robert. He sings like a bit of both of them, with a little gravel of experience in his voice. All those “Don’t love me honey or “I might do you wrong” lyrics are delivered with a twinkle in his eye and a wicked, knowing grin. He sure can get the crowd smiling and toe tapping! No wonder he is asked to play so often.

During the break he, too, was nice enough to let me take his picture. Doesn’t he look as if he would fit right into his songs?

Coffee House in the Hall of Fame

Al and Denise, and the Coffee House crew, host a monthly coffee house at the Hall of Fame here in Merritt. Featuring both new guests and repeat favorites, it isn’t just an entertaining evening, but a social event too. In this coffee house, visitors are welcomed, friendships renewed and new friendships formed.

If good friends and entertainment aren’t enough, there is always the Hall of Fame itself. The exhibits tie in nicely with the music and atmosphere and are worth exploring in themselves. Quite a few of the the exhibited stars are seniors. I was glad we arrived early so I could check out some of the costumes that I missed last time. Some of those women were so tiny! Hmm, maybe I should take up guitar and singing.

Coffee House Wind-up

What did this senior learn from doing an evening of coffee house music, Merritt style? This is one experience I will definitely repeat.

Do you enjoy coffee houses?

From your senior on the go,

Diane

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Open Mic Nights in Merritt, Canada

Open Mic Nights in Merritt, Canada

Open Mic’Apalooza Tonight!

Since last summer, Merritt, BC, has been hosting Open Mic Nights at the Kekuli Cafe.

Open Mic Nights

Kekuli Cafe

There is a wealth of talent in the Nicola Valley. And we wanted a place for the locals and visitors to enjoy some of the musical talent. Our focus is family friendly, encouraging and accepting of all skill levels, and we continue by donation.

We are also supported by the Nicola Valley Arts Council, who contributed funds for a sound system just the right size for our Kekuli venue. 

And our first year of Open Mic Nights has been a great success…

Beginning of Open Mic Nights

Open Mic Nights

Robert Bertrand

The provenance of this Open Mic experience began in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, on Quilchena Avenue. During the winter and spring of 2017, several of us encouraged musicians to perform there on Friday afternoons.

Robert Bertrand, newly local musician extraordinaire, came every week and was at times joined by other musicians. Guitars, banjos, violins, harmonica, and piano were played by Tina Vesper, Anna-Marie Forest, Willard Wallace, and others, both locals and visitors passing through. Musicians played on their own, or together.

The audience on those Friday afternoons was spare but enthusiastic. People showed up now and then, but not enough to make the performances more than a work out for the musicians, with a few coins in the donation box barely covering local transportation. And plans to put in speakers for the street, to lure people in, did not manifest in time to keep the afternoons going. How to continue, and in what form, was under discussion by those of us who loved the live performances.

On one Friday afternoon, Jeremy Ball took a seat in one of the empty chairs, while Robert Bertrand played.

And in a discussion with Jeremy, Robert, and the few of us there in the CCMHF, the seeds of our Open Mic took hold.

Jeremy’s personal initiatives, with collaborators, then carried the thoughts of an open mic night to fruition.

Mr. Mic, Open Mic Host

Open Mic Nights

Jeremy Ball

Jeremy Ball has hosted the weekly Open Mic Nights on almost every single occasion since it began last August 2107.

A local himself, returning after he left as a young man to explore the world, Jeremy had musical experience, as a singer and a band member. His career as an educator was apparent in his hosting: managing the room with humor filled firmness, filling the gaps on a slow night with English, and other, language stories, and quizzes about music and local events.

And Jeremy sang a variety of genre- from opera, to Moon River to Coldplay’s The Scientist, either alone or in duets.

But perhaps Mr Mic’s most satisfying “job” at our Open Mic Nights, was bringing a variety of performances together to fill an entertaining evening of music and spoken word.

Local Performers at Open Mic Nights

OM has several regular performers. Robert Bertrand comes often. He is a stellar musician, performing

blues, rock and country with energy, skill, and experience.

  • Willard Wallace covers favorites from Neil Young, the Beatles and more. (And he has contributed
    Open Mic Nights

    Willard Wallace

    to OM’s success, even providing his own sound system when he had a glitch with ours.)
  • Al and Denise bring a repartee that is as entertaining as their music.
  • Anita Wessel reads us amusing stories from entertaining authors.
  • The Strange Companions are a favorite when they come.
  • Michelle Etchart sings blues, show tunes and Basque honor songs.
  • Quade Lindgren shows up to perform often, with his own songs and favorites.
  • The younger generation of Lonsdales sing their own songs for us when they are in town.
  • And Jim West has been a consistent presence over the last couple of months.

We have dance, poetry, and music of such a variety, from Strings Plus duets, to opera, to bluegrass, to rap, to drum and flute music from First Nations.

We love our locals showing up to share with us.

Open Mic Nights

Joey Lonsdale

Performers from Outside the Nicola Valley

Also, Open Mic Nights has had a stream of musicians and performers from other towns, other countries….

Sometimes it is arranged, like Jim and Carol, coming from the Shuswap. This duo runs a Coffee House themselves near Celista. And as Carol was a local herself for years, the night attracted friends in the audience and musicians alike.

Sometimes it is serendipity, with a musician passing through town who shows up on an Open Mic Night.

Open Mic nights

Visitors passing through

One night a musician couple stopped for gas at the Seven-Eleven across the street from the Kekuli Cafe and saw our OM sign. They spent the evening with us.

On our opening night, Blues pianist Murray Porter, Juno Award Winner, was in town filming a documentary with students at our local post-secondary institute, NVIT. He showed up and played on a borrowed guitar.

We love the visiting musicians. They provide variety and buzz.

It’s Bobby Garcia!

Open Mic Nights

Bobby Garcia

And we love the nights that our own local stars show up, like Willard Wallace, Robert Bertrand, Paul Thomson, and of course, country and western singer Bobby Garcia!

Bobby has lived in the valley all his life, and has played music for most of it.

Bobby Garcia and Six More Strings has just released a new album. From Bobby’s Facebook page, “My Cd is ready! These Boots is Available on ITunes, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, and I have hard copies available for sale! Thank your for your support! Stream my music!…12 songs…”

 

Open Mic Nights

Robert Bertrand and Bobby Garcia

Open Mic Night Fans

As with all events like Open Mic Nights, our audience is what makes it ongoing. And just as we have

Open Mic Nights

Open Mic Music fans Doug and Donna

regular performers, we have regular attendees. Like Donna and Doug who love all music events in town and rarely miss ours. And Mary Dickie, in her 90s, who arrives on her own or with friends. Another dozen or so show up week after week. All ages… 

Sure we have quiet nights. But we also have standing room only nights!

Open Mic Nights has its own Facebook page, where you can see what we have been up to, and what is coming next. We have a featured artist weekly and usually book them several weeks in advance.

Future of Open Mic Nights

Our host, and all-round talent, Jeremy Ball, is moving on to other adventures out of the valley. He will be missed. And missed a lot, by those of us who work with him and enjoy his many qualities.

One of Mr. Mic’s last songs says it all…

“It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard”

Open Mic Nights will carry on.

The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council continues its support. Kekuli Cafe is keeping the doors open.

Open Mic Nights

Elijah Stirling-Mack, Kekuli Staff

The amazing staff at Kekuli will still be there. The Open Mic volunteers will continue to plan and implement the evening. And Denise Kearney (of Al and Denise) has committed to hunting down revolving hosts and featured artists.

And we have a young crew of workers for the summer months…including Amrit Ahuja, an auditory engineer with a future in sound and music. Hand him a mic!

Open Mic Nights…an ongoing successful program of music and spoken word in Merritt, Canada, in the beautiful Nicola Valley.

Keep coming! Good music is planned for the weeks ahead.

Come on in, if your haven’t stopped in yet.

From out of town? Make Merritt a destination stop, there’s lots to do here! And be sure your plan around a Friday night!

See you there!

Open Mic Nights

Open Mic Nights Audience

Jano

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Experience Merritt BC Living

Experience Merritt BC Living

“The diversity keeps life and living exciting!”

Experience the “Dream” of small town living in the heart of the amazing Nicola Valley, Merritt BC

Want to experience living in a small town? Wondered if would be all that you have dreamt it would be? Well I am happy to share with you the reasons I love Merritt BC living. 

Merritt BC living, in the Nicola Valley, has given me the chance to experience  amazing diversity with the people, the colorful cultures, the landscape, and many experiences beyond any other community I have lived in!

We are nestled in the Nicola Valley, with a charming community, Merritt. And we are also IMHO blessed to be surrounded by first Nations Bands and can experience all of the wonders of their culture people and history. Much more on that to coming blogs. I will just say, if you haven’t been to a POWWOW or a first nations event, get out and go!

There are winding rivers,  sparkling lakes, beautiful creeks, natural river pools to swim and fish, amazing wildlife and forests spread over this entire valley with landscapes from wide open grasslands to dense pine and fir forests.

And it’s not just our location, our diversity in nature and landscapes, it’s our people! And there is about 8000 of us!

We have the best People!

People who love small towns like me!  People who have had family ties go back generations! Like the Pooley’s, the Voght’s, the Guichon’s, the Garcia’s. Many people I meet tell me that they were born and raised here. Or they moved away for work or to raise a family, and then they returned.

If you spend time living here to experience the beautiful community and the surrounding country it grows on you! And you grow on Merritt! People get to know you, you grow roots. You can’t help it! It just happens! It is hard to go anywhere where you don’t run into a friend or acquaintance.

We have are very own “mystery masked dancer” and a grapevine!

Merritt BC living

Experience Merritt masked dancer

The diversity here keeps life and living exciting!

Like our masked dancer! He has become famous in Merritt! Everyone is talking about him, and he makes (most of us ) smile. Who is he? Why does he sing and dance with a creepy mask on in public! Stay tuned for more to come as we “unmask” the mystery! 

We have a grapevine! A Facebook grapevine that sometimes takes on a life of it’s own. Do you want to know who is doing what, where, or when in town? Do you want to know instant gossip? This is the place to be! Check the grapevine! It really brings out the diversity I am talking about! There are 6626 members. Join in or simply watch! Believe it or don’t. Your call.

I love the grapevine because it is a place for people of Merritt to express themselves. Also because it is amazing to watch the town’s people come together in tragic times, like the fire last year of an apartment building where so many people lost everything they owned! Love that I live in community of such caring and generous people!

Experience Outdoor Adventure 

I can say for certain that Adventure and Play go hand in hand for me! It is never-ending!  Of course you may have heard Merritt’s mantra? “A Lake A Day As Long As You Stay” Well, that is a true story. My plan is to discover them all! I want to share it here!  I love exploring! See a back road, take it. See a fork in the road, take both! You will discover the most magnificent beauty in the world! IMHO!

Merritt BC living is a different experience every day.  My best times are when I take my old 4×4 jeep and find the “roads less traveled”.  Most often I feel rewarded with something that ignites the senses. A big healthy  mama bear with cubs, a gigantic moose, colorful wildflower fields, or even just a glimpse of landscapes as seen from a perspective I have not experienced before.

“An Adventure a day, as long as you stay” is a good mantra we use for Merritt too.

Experience Diversity in  Music and Arts

Music Festivals, Art, Musicians and Artists. I must declare that we have the best of the best!  In 2003 we have the honor of being named Country Music Capital of Canada. Make sure to visit the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame when you are here. Music and Art are often combined together in events like the Bass Coast Music and Arts Festival or the Rockin River Country Music Fest.

I have been to these and they are just an exciting part of Merritt BC living. No words can describe the experience of actually being in the sun drenched valley with the Coldwater River flowing through your toes as you await the stars to arrive! Yes the twinkling kind in the sky and the Star artists for the shows! It is without a doubt, a natural stage for a festival that would rank best in the world! New Festivals arriving this year too! 

Merritt BC Living

Experience Music Festivals like these people at Rockin River Music Fest

Merritt BC Living

Or these people at Bass Coast

The Arts are everywhere!

Of course in the heritage Court House Arts Gallery, the walls of the buildings all around town, in the local cafes and our amazing Art Walk each July to showcase Local Artists in businesses around town! “Take a walk on the art side” when in Merritt BC.

Our Art Walk is a summer feature in Merritt, just like the music festivals!

Now, those are a lot of reasons I love living in Merritt BC!

If you have dreamt of small town living, come and see what Merritt BC living is like!

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Merritt Canada Art Walk 2018

Merritt Canada Art Walk 2018

“If you want to collect the beads for a bracelet, come early!”

Time to get out and see our local artists! July 3rd to July 31st.

We are excited to begin Art Walk 2018 in downtown Merritt! We want to show off the local art and culture. Our art walk this year has 19 artists Art Walk participating in several mediums.

  • painting on canvas
  • stone painting
  • tile painting
  • photography 
  • mixed media 
  • fabric art 
  • woodwork 
  • and pebble art! 

Seventeen businesses, services, and our Courthouse Arts Gallery are hosting the artists and supporting both the Chamber of Commerce and the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council.

In its sixth year, the Art Walk attracts community members and visitors alike. Our community is introduced to artists new to the local scene and well-known favorites. And some locals pop in to see businesses they haven’t visited yet.

Our visitors enjoy a walk around our downtown, seeing both sides-art and business.

Art Walks are everywhere!

One of the benefits of our Merritt Art Walk, is hearing the stories of other Art Walks elsewhere! From big to small, the opportunity to connect art to the workings of a town or city is a big attraction. Some of the people we meet are Art Walk buffs, and travel to different communities to take in the art scene.

There are communities with themes, like local landscapes. And contests for prizes, from the businesses for art pieces. And event hook ups like art auctions and dinners.

We love to visit Art Walks when we are visiting other towns, but our favorite is our own, in Merritt, Canada.

How about a Bead Bracelet incentive?

Art WalkIf you have heard, or read this in time, or if you participated locally last year, you know that 100 lucky people can buy a silver bracelet at the first stop at Community Futures on Voght, on the first day (or until they are gone). And at each of the locations they receive a bead, or charm, to add to the bracelet. When you are done they have a beautiful charm bracelet memento for the art walk.

I’ve seen all the 2018 beads and they are something! From the medical symbol (the caduceus) to a tiny cup and saucer, to a t shirt bead, Jeanine at Vision Quest has done a great job matching up beads to the businesses they are located in.

One, a rainbow bead, even symbolizes a town issue from several months ago, making the bracelet a topical one for 2018.

So, Who’s Matched Up?

Art Walk

Joan Jennings

1. Joan Jennings, a mixed media art quilter, is showing her new work at Community Futures. She loves to experiment with surface design variations, and try new things in her art form. Joan was inspired by her travels this year, and her art is colorful and lively!

2. Joel Reid, a prolific local artist, has his work in the office at the Civic Centre. He has a unique art style, with a graphic quality and signature of urban graffiti. He works in charcoal, acrylics, oils, and spray paint. Joel is also working on several community art pieces we hope will be on display soon.

3. Cindilla Trent, Pat Tombe, and Bev Veale are showing 3 kinds of art at the Courthouse Arts Gallery– fabric art, unique wooden bowl, and paintings respectively. Cindilla’s detailed and beautiful quilts are just one of her art forms. She also works with clay, mosaics, and beads (in the Gallery Shop). Pat Tombe creates unique wooden pieces- bowls, plates, and hollow forms. He adds embellishments such as carving, pyrography, dye, paint, and texturing. Our Bev Veale, painting in the valley for decades, and active for years in our arts community, has a summer collection of paintings and drawings on the Gallery Walls.

Despite the Odds

Art Walk

Wyatt Collins

4. Wyatt Collins, a 20-year old aspiring Nlaka’pamux artist, is at the Kekuli Cafe. Wyatt, despite having autism, is overcoming the odds and has discovered his unique style in Abstract Expressionism. He uses fluid form and drip painting techniques. This show includes some new pictograph work.

5. Glenn and Susan Parkinson, creators of glass art images, are at the Interior Savings Credit Union. They work in a variety of styles, including fractured glass mosaics, leaded stained glass, and fused glass.

6. Vicki Strom, a weaver, spinner, and potter, is displaying her creative garment weaving at the Community Policing Office. Vicki has studied the Sauri weaving art form in Japan, from the master Kenzo Jo, and brings the concept to her own pieces.

Connection with Nature

Art Walk

Natalie Rostad Desjarlais

7. Natalie Rostad-Desjarlais, a mixed media artist working with stone, natural pigments and canvas

painting, is at Earthwalker Spiritual Shop. Through her stone paintings and work, Natalie shows her connection with nature. She harvests and makes her own pigments from earth and stone, as well as using acrylics.

8. Fran McMurchy, a painter working primarily in watercolor, is at Espresso, Etc. Fran loves the feel of the watercolor and its soft color layers, but also uses acrylics with its bold and intense colors. She enjoys using both mediums.

9. Gale Simpson, a paint artist inspired on her walks and hikes. is at Lynda’s Cafe. Trees, birds, and animals fill her acrylic paintings. Gale, always interested in painting, began taking art classes when she retired.

10. Lori Desy and Jill Fitzer, with their popular pebble art, are at Black’s Pharmacy. They started making pictures for family and friends as gifts. Collecting their materials by hand. Jill and Lori spend hours lakeshores, river banks, and seaside beaches.

11. Renee Bauwens, a local painter using acrylics and watercolors, is at Spaner and Webb. Renee teaches art to children, initiating the Art Buds class at the Gallery. She also is creating digital paintings as home decor art to be sold internationally online.

Artists as Entrepreneurs

Art Walk

Pauline Ouellet

12. Pauline Ouellet, an artist working in oil, acrylic, colored ink and watercolor, is at Vision Quest. Her intimacy with Canadian landscapes evident in her work, Pauline has developed a passion for the mountains, valleys, and seascapes of British Columbia. She also makes hand painted jewelry.

13. Mordichai, musician, filmmaker, and artist, is at Breathe Bikes. Mordichai was the editorial cartoonist for the old Merritt News. Currently Mordichai enjoys multi -media expressions, including digital and oil painting, and things that fall in between.

14. Jean Kiegerl, an artist working with watercolor, acrylics and oils, is at Home Hardware. She finds an amazing array of colors in everyday objects. She says that educating her mind to see and then create that vision artistically is a never-ending cycle. Jean often gives classes for painters, and teaches drawing.

Capturing Journeys and Life Experiences

Art Walk

Faye Gustafson

15. Faye Gustafson, an experienced artist working in oil on canvas, is at Purity Feed. She paints people,

animals, and symbolic objects within their environment to capture their journeys and life experiences. Her goal is to expose the emotion and character that is daily life. Faye often teaches art to children and is giving a local painting summer camp at the Gallery.

16. Angelina Brooymans, a nature photographer, is at Save On Foods. Black and white images are her favorite medium, but she does color as well. Angelina also produces museum quality giclee prints, and helps other local artists by photographing and printing their art.

17. Diane Kiernan‘s work, creating beauty through painting, is at Nicola Valley Museum and Archives. Diane lived a creative life, from large murals to intricate tole painting, fabric art and jewelry making, gardening and decorating homes. Diane’s Art Walk show this year is curated by her daughter, Stephanie Kiernan.

Merritt Art Walk 2018

“I’m guided by my objective to leave parts of this world more loved, and more beautiful, and to leave a gentle footprint on precious Mother Earth”. Diane Kiernan

Art Walk

Diane Kiernan

We probably won’t be bringing a stylish red car like the one Diane is seen with here. Most Art Walkers put on their comfy shoes and head out with friends. Three of our locations are cafe’s, so there are even refreshments to buy along the way, while you are enjoying the art! Support our local artists, and businesses!

Come and join us on our Merritt Art Walk 2018!

And if you want to collect the beads for a bracelet, come early! Starts Tuesday, July 3rd.

 

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Experience Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

​Experience Nicola Valley arts and culture!

Our artistic and cultural style is full of variety, against a background of pine trees and golden grasses.

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

Jean Kiegerl

Of course, we experience arts and culture wherever we are…

And Nicola Valley arts and culture is worth planning an experience around!

Arts and culture feeds our soul…
And our geography informs our culture and our art.

The Nicola Valley, in southern interior BC, Canada, with its sage hills, clear creeks, and warm sun encourages the kind of slow pace that inspires art in all its forms.

And the rich history and culture of the valley elicits respect for what has gone before, and invites a sense of possibility for what is coming.

Our 

Nicola Valley arts and culture: country music, graffiti art, rock paintings, children’s books, local blogs, plays performed by theater students, dance lessons…

 

What is Culture?

Let’s define the terms we will be writing about…

Live Science: Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, Nicola Valley Arts and Cultureencompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.

So, culture is the big concept, …

A definition and opinion from Study.com: …Think about what makes you and your family special. What language do you speak? What traditions and beliefs do you have? Do you enjoy special foods and wear clothing to represent your family or history? The culture of a group of people is the traditions and beliefs that they practice in their daily lives. 

This gives us a wide range of topics to write about! Social habits! Language! Benefits of cultural diversity!

But a second meaning of culture suggests the direct interaction with social and artistic expressions, as the following quote suggests…

Huffington Post: If you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve gone to a museum in your city, a theater performance and a concert, you’re missing out on the enriching world of culture that is there to be enjoyed. Why should you turn off the TV for once and get out there to take in some culture?

“Take in some culture” like a museum tour, a concert, a theater performance, or art exhibit. It helps us absorb or comprehend our lives and experiences. And it’s fun!

What is Art?

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

Joel Reid

What is Art? Always a lively discussion!

There are lots of quotes on this question. Lots of answers.

So art is one of our earliest expressions of culture. It helped early humans to organize their lives, to understand the world around them, and to communicate those understandings. And that is what art does for us. It helps us to understand how we feel about things and helps us to organize our world. SVCC

(I am definitely adding a reason to engage with art…get more organized! How about you?)

“Art is an expression that transcends religion, culture, country, people and time.” Amit Ray

And discussions on this question are endless, everywhere.

We often have these discussions ourselves during afternoon teas at the Courthouse Arts Gallery on Nicola Avenue. “Is this art?”

“No? How come?”

“Yes? Why? What makes it art?”

Pour another cup of tea and we’ll figure it out.

Where is the Nicola Valley?

Nicola Valley is in the southern interior of BC, near the west coast of Canada.

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

Bev Veale

The town of Merritt, in the Nicola Valley, is the center of the Coquihalla highway system, with easy four lane access to large and small communities, a regional airport, and two international airports.

In this central location we have quick access to many cultural experiences not only in our own valley, but also over the mountains to other communities with engaging arts experiences.

The Nicola Valley is sunny and dry ranch country, surrounded by rolling hills, lakes, and creeks. You’ll see Ponderosa pines, sagebrush or rabbit bush, and bunch grass as you come in to our valley.

We are…

  • on the Gold Country Tour
  • part of the Route Blue (music and art) Tour
  • close to the Shuswap valley
  • and just a short and breathtaking drive to the internationally-known Okanagan Valley, with its famous wine tours and art galleries.

The Nicola Valley is a hub of BC highways, and a growing hub of musicians, artists, and performers…

And What Is Nicola Valley Arts and Culture?

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

janohphoto

Our valley inspires original country music, landscape paintings, and sculptures made from natural stones and branches.

Street benches that look like wagon wheels…

We are the home of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Walk of Stars, and the country music and western themed murals of artist Michelle Loughery. First Nations pictographs and stone structures are overlooking our lakes and creeks.

We also host the Bass Coast electronic music and art festival, Home Routes concerts, and put on school wide SD58 Arts Festivals.

The Nicola Valley arts and culture style is full of variety, against a background of pine trees and golden grasses. From stilettos to cowboy boots, chainsaw carvings and beaded earrings, to flute concertos and banjos, the Nicola Valley is a center of creative expression….

Come and See For Yourself!

Experience Arts and Culture in the Nicola Valley!

Stop downtown Merritt and get oriented. Follow the Walk of Stars route, check out the murals, visit theNicola Valley Arts and Culture museum. Spend time in the Courthouse Arts Gallery and gift shop, with goods like local tea and honey, guitar string bracelets, hand weavings, art on the wall.

If you come in July, tour our Art Walk with artists displayed in twenty downtown businesses and civic centers. or attend our country music “Rockin River Fest”.

Here in late November? Join us for Country Christmas and our Festival of Trees.

And if you are here on a Friday, drop into our Open Mic Night at the Kekuli Cafe. Bring your instrument, or favorite poetry.

Get in touch with us to discover dates for our Coffee Houses with featured musicians at the Country Music Hall of Fame or in our outdoor Spirit Square.

Maybe we can set you up with an arts tour!

Complete with local refreshments, of course…

  • Want to see the newly opened Nlakapmux Creations Gallery at the corner of Nicola Avenue and Voght Street?
  • And next see the Michelle Loughery murals? And hear the community story of their origin?
  • Want to get a taste of our local music scene, with the likes of Bobby Garcia and Al & Denise?

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture awaits!

Visit the Nicola Valley Arts Council website for the lowdown on all things art in the valley.

Or contact me at experiencenicolavalley.jano@gmail.com.

We’ll see what we can do…

Love the arts!

Jano

Nicola Valley Arts and Culture

                                                                                                                                                                                            (All media here by permission)