Art, artists, artisan studios and art galleries in and around the Nicola Valley and within the city limits of Merritt BC.

Nicola Valley Creativity in Action

Creatives in the Nicola Valley Gather, Carefully

What local creative projects do you know are happening?

Nicola Valley creativity is in action. The community is buzzing with creativity. As the curator at the NV Arts Gallery I have my finger on the pulse of arts happening in and around the town of Merritt.

At least that’s what I wish. Beyond my mandala of gallery action and the programs we run, there is a lot going on out there. Just like our recent exhibition, The Art of Covid, showed, creativity persists in our Nicola Valley inhabitants. No matter what the conditions. 

And I can’t keep up with all the arts action in the community. Visual arts like paintings, pottery, and fabric arts are happening everywhere.   Dance seems to be alive and kicking. Online possibilities are taking the place of in person, and inaction. Creativity persists.

Music in the Valley

Some community art expressions, like music events, have dropped off. But I know music is being made…You Tube, Facebook, Spotify all have local music happening. 

Bobby Garcia musician

Bobby Garcia singing I Remember When

Open Mic music is kept up by Al and Denise. Robert Bertrand posts music, and Bobby Garcia lets us know about his latest releases on Facebook. Richard Lepinski writes an original song a month, and posts them to his You Tube channel, along with cover songs. Lilly Parks hooked us up to her channel and we’ve got her on our playlist.

Covid protocols

Meet up with Denise Kearney

I miss our weekly Open Mic Night at Kekuli Cafe, but local musician Denise Kearney and I stay in touch, talking about how and when the music action in town will open up.

What Creative Projects are happening?

I can’t tell you everything that’s happening arts wise here in the Nicola Valley, but I get to talk to, and hear about, people who are immersed in creative projects.

I enjoy it because inspiration is often a part of the conversation. If inspiration is present then commitment and action are usually not far behind.

Since I am committed to taking action, almost monthly with new shows, I wanted to flesh out two upcoming summer shows with working titles Body Art and The Art of Clothing

Meet Up for  Summer Inspiration

Merritt BC Artists

Kelly and Olivia discuss art shows

I called Kelly Reid for a meet up. Kelly manages her son Joel’s art which we carry in our Gift Shop. Kelly is a creative herself, turning Joel’s art into bags, Tshirts, and cards. And she is full of art appreciation and ideas.

I knew we could generate some ideas for the summer shows. We invited Olivia Nendick, an artist still in high school who has just applied for a Gallery art show for next fall. She had told us that she hunts down one of a kind fashion.

Besides the of-course! summer tie dye outdoors event we had already come up with, our trio decided to gather thrift store finds for artists to creative-up, and keep an eye out for mannequins. Got one we can use?

We figure we’ll plan an early workshop to get creative with articles of clothing (think beads, embroidery, patches, fabric paint). Stay tuned.

Creative Circles

Leonard George Artist

Leonard George and Blue Bear Painting

We like the idea of local artists’ works printed on silk scarves (imagine Jean’s red post office or Leonard’s blue bear. Or Herta’s flowers). 

We’ll hunt down the leather workers, bead makers, hair, tattoo and henna artists, and see if Colleen Waddell will do some fun air brush make up on a July Saturday afternoon.

Fashion design drawings, sketches of hairstyles, photos of tattoos for our Gallery walls.

And Olivia is going to take on a mannequin for the Art of Clothing show. Can’t wait.

Got ideas? Want to participate?

Know a local you think could contribute to either of these shows?

The Body Art Show is by invitation, but we are looking for body artists so get in touch. And the Art of Clothing is a community show, so get busy! We have limited space but we love to fill it.

More Shows

Before those summer shows happen there are three shows in the works. MSS is putting on a show “Unmasked”. Then the Clubhouse group is going to show all the art they’ve been doing during sessions with several NVCAC artists. 

And in June we are welcoming long time artist Judy Young, once involved with the Valley Visual Artists. Judy always contributes something amazing to our community shows so I’m looking forward to her one-person show coming up.

Following Covid protocols

We are Covid careful, but we are still in action with the arts, learning mad Zoom skills, planning Gallery shows, manning the Gift Shop, having socially distant meetups, putting on workshops. 

And… I just heard that the Farmer’s Market will accept artisan vendors as well as the produce essentials. Art is essential! Will we participate? Or just head over to enjoy what other locals are setting up? 

At the NV Gallery and Gift Shop, we know a lot of what’s happening in the arts in our community. And when you read our Experience Nicola Valley blogs,  the paper, as well as, watch Facebook and listen to our friends and colleagues like I do, it is easy to see Nicola Valley creativity in action. 

 

Kids Art

Susan and Fiona, Fabric Art Fun

Indigenous Art

Cliff McDougall Powwow photography

Merritt BC Artists

Artists Herta and Shirley

Artisan Covid masks

Artisan Angela Ho designs clothes

Artist Cindilla Trent

Cindy Trent setting up her “Looking Forward” Art quilt show

Art Program with Covid Protocols

Clubhouse Art Program

The arts are alive and well in the community! I’m inspired….

Jano Howarth 

NV Arts Gallery Curator 

Arts and Culture Blogger for Experience Nicola Valley

Artists Merritt BC

Artist Pat Tombe burns a design into one of his fab wooden bowls

Banjo

Watching Richard Lepinski on Youtube

Nicola Valley Creativity in Action

 

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Hold My Beer – Aaron Pritchett 

Downtown Merritt Mural Walking Tour

“I Grew To Love Country Music Because Of The lyrics,” Aaron Pritchett

Hold My Beer –Aaron Pritchett country music artist  who was born on August 2, 1970 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. By the same token, Aaron grew up and was raised in Kitimat, BC, Canada – a coastal community in the northwestern region of British Columbia.

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Aaron’s love of music didn’t start with country music. Growing up he would listen to the rock ‘n’ roll legends of his parents like Elvis, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, Van Morrison, and James Brown. Correspondingly, as Aaron grew older, Canadian acts from the 1980’s, especially Bryan Adams, were a major influence as well. Consequently Pritchett’s single ‘DRIVE’ was co-written by Bryan Adams and British writer Phil Thornalley.

“Def Lepperd, AC/DC, bands like that; they are all a big part of the rockier licks I use in my songs today. I grew to love country music because of the lyrics . The songs are all about true life experiences.” Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals

Aaron Pritchett – Featured artists of Merritt BC Murals

Embarking On The Touring Scene

Aaron Pritchett started his career as a DJ at Rooster’s Country Cabaret in Pitt Meadows, BC. As a result of his DJ career, he also played in a house band throughout BC and Alberta playing cover tunes.

Hold My Beer – Aaron Pritchett’s Big Break

In 2001 everything changed for Aaron.  In short he entered a singing contest called “Project Discovery” sponsored by CMT (Country Music Television). Most importantly Aaron won $10,000 in cash, and a professional music video directed by internationally acclaimed director, Steven Goldmann.

Aaron put his winnings towards recording his first album “Consider This”. The title track from the album was co-written by Pritchett and BC country music legend Rick Tippe. Soon after, he got to record three songs with one of Canada’s top producers, Tom McKillip. In short, it was then, when Aaron Pritchett won the Project Discovery Talent Contest, at the Canadian Country Music Awards, he started receiving national recognition and attention.

Aaron Pritchett on the wall

Melvina White (Experience Nicola Valley) / Mural Painted by Michelle Loughery

Country Music Charts Recognizes Aaron Pritchett

Pritchett was now on a roll with some of his songs climbing to the top of the charts. Songs like Hold My Beer. As a result his success continued to grow with the release of his next albums – “Something Going On Here” in 2003 and “Big Wheel” in 2006. During this period of Aaron’s country music career he toured promoting his albums to his growing fan base.

“Combine humble, driven, talented, great songwriter and a focused artist together and you have Aaron Pritchett.”

Hold My Beer – Aaron Pritchett Merritt BC Murals Connection

Merritt, British Columbia, Canada has played a big roll in Aaron’s career. Not to mention Aaron has played a big roll in building Merritt’s country music brand. For instance, Aaron Pritchett was a regular attraction over the 17 years of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now the Rockin’ River Country Music Fest). His debut performance at the festival was on the “The Little Big Stage” in 1993.

Pritchett said, “the times I performed in Merritt were quite an experience”.

Hold My Beer – Aaron Pritchett Winning Single

Winning Independent Male Artist of the Year at the CCMA’s in 2004 and then Songwriter of the Year in 2007 put Aaron on the country music map. His winning single ‘Hold My Beer’ was not the song Aaron and his co-writers thought would ever make it big. Were they surprised.

Signed To The Record Label 

604 Records, the production company of Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, signed Aaron Pritchett to a label in 2008. Soon after, the “Thankful” album was released on September 9, 2008. Aaron promoted this album on a tour of Western Canada with Toby Keith and Jessie Farrel.

Aaron released his next album “In the Driver’s Seat” on November 9, 2010, under his own record label Decibel Music. Pritchett’s first greatest hits album, “Body of Work: A Collection of Hits”, was released on May 12, 2015 under Big Star Recordings.

In June 2016, Pritchett released the album “The Score”.  Moreover, the title commemorated his 20th year recording and the anniversary of his first album . The lead off single “Dirt Road In Em” went on to become #6 on the country music charts and was earmarked as a comeback single in Pritchett’s career. The second release from the album, “Out Of The Blue” followed suit reaching #9 on the charts. The release of “When A Momma’s Boy Meets A Daddy’s Girl”, climbed the charts and sat at #10 on the Canada Country Billboard for 8 weeks. Because of the results of Aaron’s efforts he was nominated in 2017 for Country Album of the Year at the Juno Awards.

The Country Music Team

Aaron is often heard praising his team for all his success. In addition Aaron credits his success, in the early part of his career, to Country Music Television and radio airplay. In addition, Aaron credits each and every fan that has supported him along the way. An early highlight of his career, was playing for an audience of 20,000 people in Ontario, Canada and listening to them singing along with his songs. 

“Without a team it is impossible to reach your goals.” Aaron Pritchett

Above all Aaron credits industry icon Heather Ostertag for much of his success. Heather is the Past President of FACTOR, Past President of the CMAO and owner of Heather Ostertag and Associates.

“Without Heather, many aspects of my career would never have happened. She has been a major supporter, a strong mentor and one of my best friends to this day. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for believing in me.” Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Recognition as a Canadian Country Music Artist

To sum it up nicely, Aaron is considered, one of Canada’s favorite entertainers and all around good guy. Firstly, he has been honored with multiple Canadian Country Music Association, Juno and British Columbia Music Association nominations and awards. Secondly, some of the hardware he has taken home include Independent Male Artist, Independent Song, Entertainer, Male Artist, Album and Group of the Year Awards.

Aaron Pritchett has earned his title as one of Canada’s most energetic and electrifying entertainers in the industry. Most importantly, to all of us here in Merritt BC, Aaron has been a staunch supporter of The Merritt Walk of Stars, The Merritt Mural Project and The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Merritt Walk Of Stars

Hundred’s of International and National Country Music Artists have performed at the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival over the 17 years of the festival. As a result, those stars left their mark permanently in Merritt BC by creating hand prints (or, in one case, footprints) accompanied by signatures. Therefore, each  artist print is encased in concrete stars.

In 2003, those hand prints became the motivation behind the Merritt Walk of Stars – a self guided walking tour throughout the community . More importantly, the project helped solidify Merritt BC, Canada, as the Country Music Capital of Canada. Today, more than 100 bronze stars are located in plaques throughout the community. Aaron Pritchett created his star in 2004.

“It is huge to get a star,” he said. “It a real honour to be among the artists who have made stars in Merritt. As well as be recognized among some of the names that are included, in The Walk of Stars.”

Hold My Beer – Aaron Pritchett On The Merritt Mural Walking Tour

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals is part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery. These beautiful works of art can be seen all over downtown Merritt BC.

Therefore, as a result, not only did the program serve to enrich our society, but it helped to transform Merritt BC, Canada into the largest outdoor country music art gallery you’ll ever visit. Subsequently, Aaron had his mural painted and sits on the wall of City Furniture on Voght street in Downtown Merritt, BC.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Capital of Canada

Merritt, BC Canada has its own history of cowboys, cattle ranches and country experiences. Country music is a part of the heritage and country lifestyle of Merritt, BC, Canada. Because Merritt has hosted an annual Country Music Festival for many years, it consequently became branded as the Country Music Capital of Canada. There was a short festival hiatus from 2012 to 2014. As a result Rockin River Music Festival took over the festival in 2015 and, since then, every August long weekend people come to Merritt for some top quality country music.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

The Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame opened in Merritt, BC Canada in 2009. However, in 2012, it became an arm of the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society in order to create a venue to display artifacts related to the inductees of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. As a result, in 2018, there is a total of 139 inductees in the Merritt Hall of Fame.

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Downtown Merritt, BC, Canada on 2025 Quilchena Avenue. Moreover, make the effort to visit the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame and enjoy their  displays of your favorite artist inductees.

In conclusion make the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame your starting point for your visit to Merritt, British Columbia, Canada. In addition please visit our downtown coffee shops, restaurants and local shops for a unique shopping experience.

Moreover, say hi to Aaron on social media and let him know you met him here on Experience Nicola Valley. Further more, Aaron can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to send us a selfie of you with his mural too.

Hold My Beer by Aaron Pritchett

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Street Art in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery Show “Street Art”, first show in 2021

Street Art is visual art created in public locations for public visibility.

Street Art Merritt BC

Merritt BC Street Art Show

Street art in Merritt BC just got a boost with the Art Show. For the last two weeks of January 2021 the community of Merritt and the Nicola Valley were invited to submit designs they thought would make good street art.

We collected over 40 pieces of art for us to consider for a street art project coming up. The City of Merritt, with their Beautification program, is working with the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council to bring art to the streets and buildings in Merritt.

Merritt is already known as a mural town.

Most of our murals have a country music theme.

We want to bring a variety of focuses, mediums, and sizes of street art to our community. So our art call out asked for designs and depictions of plants and animals common in our area, of humour, information/word art, abstracts…

Our Art Show was a good way to collect what people already have or was created especially for public art ideas. And it also allowed the public to come in and have an opinion on what they thought would make great street art in Merritt BC.

We have artists who’s art have already made it to the streets in Merritt and other towns, like Joel Reid.

Street Art Joel Reid

Joel Reid Street Artist

Our show consisted of paintings, sketches, mosaics, carvings, and photos.

Street Art Carving

Pat Tombe Carving Design

We talked about the process of turning the art into a design, small to large. And who would do it. It’ll take a team!

After we know the  possible spaces for designs and get the kinks worked out, then a group of volunteers from the NVCAC will get started on turning these ideas into a reality.  

We hope to have street art several projects completed this year. That’s the plan. And then locals and visitors can enjoy art around them when they are downtown in our community.

Street Art Mosaics

Ellen Miller Mosaics

We want the public art designs to have a wide appeal.

From the look of the art work we had in our show, the designs will appeal to a lot of people. From flowers to mandalas, from stepping stones to powwow scenes, there’s lots to choose from!

Street Art in Merritt BC from Indigenous artist Leonard George

Street Art Leonard George

Leonard George Mural Artist

Our Art Show visitors had a great response to a long and dynamic piece brought in by long time local Indigenous artist, Leonard George. We are hoping to get a space for a mural by Leonard soon, so his work can be a showpiece for the community.

Thanks to all artists and creatives!

Thanks to all who contributed art, and to all our visitors who came by the Gallery! The NV Arts Gallery and Gift Shop has now been in its new location, 2051 Voght Street, for four months! It’s a bright, accessible space.

And “Street Art” was a bright and colourful Art Show…

Street Art in Merritt

Phyllis Laage Street Art

Next show at our Gallery? “Art of Covid”! 

What have the members of our Nicola Valley community been doing over the last year of Covid, to keep their creativity alive?

The submissions are starting to come in…

Hope to see you there! February 3 – March 8/2021

Covid Protocols in place…

And read about our fall move to 2051 Voght Street, beside Kekuli Cafe.

Jano Howarth, Arts Gallery Director

Express Yourself!

Nicola Valley Arts Council

Get in touch! nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com

Street Art in Merritt BC

Twin Willows Street Art Poster, Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

 

Artisans in Merritt

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Art in Merritt BC

Art in Merritt BC was on the move in October 2020.

Let’s get artistic in Merritt 

Art Gallery in Merritt BC

2051 Voght St, Merritt BC

Art in Merritt BC at the Art Gallery and Gift Shop moved to 2051 Voght Street after almost 20 years at the old Courthouse on Nicola Avenue. The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council took the plunge and took over enough space in the heritage Jackson building to have an office, a Program Space, our Gift Shop and a Gallery Exhibition space.

After our move, Art in Merritt BC is Back in Action

Two weeks of moving and intense action to spiff up the place, and we were back in action. In a big way!

At least, for our restricted Covid 19 times. We are still waiting for a return to full workshops and music events. Even Friday night Open Mic is on hold!

"Twin

1st Art Show in the New Space on Voght Street

On Oct 15/20, we held our first Art Show in our new space in Merritt BC,  “Art for the Love of It”. Prolific local Artist Jean Kiegerl filled the walls with her work, past and present. Joining her was the creative stained glass duo Glenn and Susan Parkinson of Twin Willows.

The Gift Shop space, adjoining the Gallery, was full of artisan work, from pottery to weavings, so there was lots to look at! Locals and visitors flocked in, masked and socially distant. We doubled our usual show numbers!

Art and Music Reception

A week into the Art Show we held a Reception, held over 6 hours and by invitation, to manage the social interaction we are used to at our events. And for only the 2nd time this Covid year, we enjoyed live Reception music. This time Paul Mozin and Desiree Dunbar played us a little jazz. (I would do that again!)

Music in Merritt BC

Art Show Reception with Paul Mozin and Desiree Dunbar

Shop local!

In mid November, when our first Art Show in our new digs came to

Winter Art Show, Merritt BC

Winter Artisan Show

an end, we switched up to our 5th Winter Artisan Show.

30 local artists and artisans filled the whole spacious space with gifts- practical, creative, fun and beautiful works. And in a year when there were no craft fairs to go to,  we had a flow of people in for the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve.

Who’s who at our Arts Council?

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I really want to talk about the people in the Arts Council, and all our artists and artisans! We have a motivated group making decisions in our Nicola Valley Community Arts Council. It was a lot of work and decision making to get us down to our new space from the old Courthouse. For now, I’ll just send kudos out to everyone who made this move, this change, happen.

Thanks everybody!

Active Arts in Merritt BC, 2021

We are looking forward to an active Arts year here in the Nicola Valley! For more on our NVCAC and Art in Merritt BC, visit here.

After a short holiday break, we are open again January 8th, 2021!

Our extended hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 11-6pm

Sunday 12-4pm

NVAC Facebook and Instagram

NVAC Gallery Facebook

Thanks for stopping by! Jano Howarth

Remember…Express yourself!

Art Gallery in Merritt BC

Merritt BC Art

Art Show “Art for the Love of It”

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 Merritt, BC, Canada

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Arts in Merritt on the Move

New Location for the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

The Arts Will Grow

After 15 years at the Old Courthouse Gallery on Nicola Ave (Hwy8), the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council and the Old Court House Gallery have the arts on the move in Merritt, BC.  In 2005 the Old Courthouse was purchased by a local doctor  with the idea of  turning it into a cultural space,  which would provide a home to the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, a music society and a dance studio.  However the Council has decided it is time to move on.

Old Courthouse Gallery

Old Courthouse Gallery – Bev Veale Painting

The Old Court House Gallery

The Old Court House was a major step forward for the Arts Council because for many years they had no permanent home.  At this time,  their major project was the Performing Arts Series which brought many great musical concerts to town. The visual arts were handled by the Nicola Valley Visual Artists where Community art displays were generally relegated to their annual Art Show which was held at the Merritt Civic Centre. It was therefore, not necessary to have a permanent home Fortunately the Courthouse allowed the Community Arts Council to have a bigger presence in the community.  For example, the current Arts Gallery Director, Jano Howarth gives a summary of the many activities carried out at this venue.

Arts in Merritt BC on the Move

The Courthouse building was sold and so that made the future use of the building uncertain. Consequently the Arts Council determined that the time was right to investigate a new location. Ultimately they were looking for a space that had high visibility, in the downtown core and large enough to provide gallery space, program space and an artisan shop.  As a result their search led them to the Jackson Building (for the old timers, the Post building for us newbies) at the corner of Voght and Nicola. 

Arts in Merritt BC

Arts on the Move – New Home of Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

The New Home Fits the Bill for Arts in Merritt

Location was one of the primary considerations in the move.  As such this makes  the building on the corner of the main

entrance to downtown at the corner of Voght and Nicola, the perfect location.

Gallery Space, Program Space and an Artisan Shop

The New Gallery

The new gallery is bright and airy and therefore is a great space for showing  off the Artists’ work.

The New Gallery for arts in merritt bc

The new Gallery

 

Program Space

Space for programs was important as this is an area that the Council wants to expand on.  Currently the picture shows the size of the room that will be used for programs but does not reflect the current condition of the space as this was taken before the move was complete.  However,  you can see that there is ample space.

New Activity Room

New Activity Room

Artisan Shop

The Artisan Shop has benefited from the new location.  While in the Old Courthouse it was tucked away in a back room and was out of site, in the new space it is front and centre and therefore, has more space to display the contributions of over 20 Nicola Valley artisans and crafters.

Artisan Shop for arts in merritt bc

Artisan Shop

Therefore the new location looks like it will be a great success for the community at large and in particular our local network of artists.

Arts on the Move – The First Show

Consequently, the opening show in the new space features Jean Kiegerl and Twin Willows Glass Arts.

Meet Jean Kiegerl

Jean Kiegerl

Because of  her leadership and with a strong group of volunteers the Arts Council has flourished. Currently, her legacy is  being carried on by the new Arts Council president, Mischelle Pierce.

 Jean is also a family friend, as  my wife and her spend many hours together painting and collaborating.  As a result, I like her work so much I have one of her originals hanging in my hall.

Quiilchena Falls-Jean Kiegerl Painting

Quilchena Falls – Jean Kiegerl Painting

 

Jean has produced work in water colours, acrylics and now oils which she prefers.

“I love the vibrant colours you can get with oil paints”—Jean Kiegerl

Clearly this can be seen in her painting of the red sports car that is on the poster for the show.

Red Car

Red Car-Jean Kiegerl Painting

Twin Willows Glass Arts

Glen and Susan Parkinson are the creative minds behind Twin Willows Glass Arts. They have been producing great work out of their studio for more than eight years.  Incidentally they work in a variety of styles which includes, leaded stained glass, fractured glass on glass mosaics and fused glass.

Panda-Twin Willows Glass Arts

Panda-Twin Willows Glass Arts

Arts on the Move in Merritt, BC will be a Success!

Lastly, with this new location, a heightened enthusiasm by the volunteers and with a high visibility location the future looks bright.

Old Courthouse Gallery Contact Info

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

2051 Voght St, Merritt, BC

New Hours Wednesday to Saturday

12 noon to 6 pm

Sunday 12-4pm

(beginning Oct 21st)

nicolavaleyartsgallery@gmail.com

Phone 250-315-3437

Or text 250-315-3437

 

Arts in Merritt BC

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Merritt Dance Studio

The Love To Dance Academy in the Nicola Valley

In these times, we “bring the joy of dance into homes”.

 

The Merritt dance studio, Love to Dance Academy, contributes to the art and culture in our Nicola Valley.

Love to Dance Academy

Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

I invited dance teacher, Lizette Nel, to talk about her work when we connected here in Merritt BC Canada

How and when did your Merritt Dance Studio start?

I took over the local dance studio in December 2012 as the previous ballet teacher here in Merritt, Linda Sanford, was looking forward to retirement. The name, Linda’s Dance Studio, was changed to Love To Dance Academy in January 2013.

I started teaching in 2012. We had only 12 little ballet students in a lovely compact dance studio on the top floor of the beautiful old Courthouse in Merritt, BC.

Since then a strong dance program has been developed and the Love To Dance Academy now offers classes in four different dance genres to dancers of all ages.

There are recreational classes for those who want to dance for fun and exercise as well as classes for the more serious dance student who would like to do dance exams and participate in in dance festivals and competitions. 

Therefore, at the end of 2018, there was an opportunity to move to bigger premises and with the help of volunteers a second hand shop was converted into a spacious and fully equipped dance studio downtown.

 

Dance Studio Merritt BC

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor, Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Who is a part of Love to Dance?

The Love To Dance Academy is a project of the Merritt Dance Society, which is a non-profit organisation. The Merritt Dance Society consists of a wonderful, supportive Board of Directors.

I am the Head Dance Instructor and I developed and manage the dance program for the Merritt Dance Society.

Vanessa van Rensburg, regularly teaches Spanish Flamenco and jazz dance classes.

However, from time to time guest teachers are invited to do short courses and workshops or teach during dance camps.

 And of course, there are the many children, youth, and adults who come to the studio to dance!

How is the Merritt dance studio supported in the community?

It is very well supported by the Merritt community who loves attending our classes and our twice a year recitals.

Love To Dance fundraisers are well supported by the community and we are fortunate to always have enthusiastic volunteers to help whenever they are needed.

Tell me about the different dance genres you offer.

Currently our main dance genres are Ballet, Modern Jazz, Spanish Flamenco, and Latin Line Dance.

From time to time Love To Dance offers workshops or short sessions of other dance styles such as Hip Hop, Tap, Musical Theatre/Broadway, Contemporary, Highland Dancing, Bollywood and Country Line Dance.

You put on twice yearly performances. A lot of the dances are choreographed by you, Vanessa, and your Love to Dance dancers.

Merritt Dance Studio concerts

Love to Dance Winter Concert Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

LTD Display

Love To Dance Poster Display of Dancers Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Ballet Shoes

LTD Red Ballet Shoes Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What are your inspirations for the themes and performance?

Life and what is going on around us… sometimes fun and sometimes deep and meaningful. We choose themes showing that we are different, but the same.

Your dance recitals are so enjoyable for the community!

Not only do we watch a themed story unfold onstage, but the Civic Centre is always full of beautiful displays focusing on the dancers and the culture of dance….

Merritt Dance Studio Instructor

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Can you share your dance background with us, Lizette?

Training:  I was introduced to the world of dance at age 5, in Johannesburg South Africa.  I did not like it, but fortunately my mom did not give up and reintroduced me to dance a year later.

In the beginning I was very shy and could not face an audience, but I loved the dancing and movement to music. However, I did all my dance exams and in my final year of school, I decided to become a dance teacher.

Work Experience:  Before coming to Canada, I owned and operated a successful dance studio in South Africa , where I successfully trained hundreds of young dancers and prepared them to enter exams, festivals and competitions with confidence, always striving for excellence.

 In addition to teaching and running a studio, I also provided mentorship for some dance instructors in South Africa. Consequently, I created an online dance network as a resource and networking tool for dance teachers, and was a founding organizer of the national “Eisteddfod of the Performing Arts”, a prestigious dance event of its kind in South Africa

It continues to this day, attracting thousands each year.

I was also a judge for the National Society on Dance Teachers as well as a lecturer in the Movement Science Department of the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

 It was a journey for you to be here with us in the Nicola Valley. Can you tell us a little about that journey?

When I became aware of the possibility of teaching in Merritt BC Canada, I started the process of obtaining a work permit, a very long process.

I started teaching in the dance studio in the old Courthouse in December 2012. After teaching for a year, there was a delay in the renewing process of my work permit, and I had to return to South Africa for a few months.

The local students and their parents were very disappointed that we had to leave. The community wrote petition letters and did fundraisers. Fortunately everything got sorted out and we returned in August 2014, just in time for the new dance year to start.

What inspires you?

Young Dancers at Merritt Dance Studio

LTD Young Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

I’ve had five dance teachers. Two of them, Janet King and Dorothy de Witt still inspire me. Also the smiling faces and chuckles in the dance studio inspire me.
Our Merritt dance family’s dedication and strong will to succeed inspires me even more.

Every new day and the fact that God’s loving kindness starts fresh each day inspires me.

What support do you receive in your role in your Merritt Dance Studio?

Non Profit Volunteers

Love To Dance Volunteers Photo Courtesy of Love to Dance

I have strong support from the Merritt community.  I am very grateful for the many volunteers involved in the many Love To Dance activities. They make it possible for us to successfully present many extra dance opportunities and related activities.
My children in South Africa support what I do and always encourage me.


Without Herman, my husband, keeping things together in the background and the assistance and hard work of Vanessa, my daughter, the Love to Dance Academy will not be able to exist

How do you relax, and give yourself a break?

Gardening.

Favourite things about Merritt?  

Four definite seasons in a year!

Favourite Music?

Classical harp

What role does dance have in society?

I am particularly conscious of the benefits of dance and I promote my programs as a holistic tool for physical fitness, and mental, emotional and social health. We promote character building for youth and motor planning for seniors and people with disabilities.
In addition, dance develops physical strength, co-ordination, and good posture.
Dance improves self confidence and positive body image. Dance builds self discipline
.

Ballet Dancing

Love To Dance Ballet Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Concert

Participants in a Love to Dance Recital! Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What effect do you feel Love to Dance has on our community?

Community Dancers

LTD Dancing in the Community Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Our young students learn to take charge of their lives by being responsible for scheduling and costumes and by managing their time wisely. They take pride in work well done, show leadership with younger dancers, and experience the value of teamwork and supporting others.

They are growing into mature, confident adults and they set an example which has a positive influence on younger dancers.

These positive effects are felt around our community.

Love to Dance brings together all ages, and the different ages interact and dance together in the recitals. It is a joy to see the older students take the young ones by hand and include them in the specially choreographed dances! I can feel and hear the pleasure in the audience around me at this collaboration of ages and levels of dance.

Community Dance

Love to Dance Valentine’s Tea Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

For the older dancers of 55 plus, in the program, “Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing,” the benefits of dance include brain agility, fitness, improved balance and reduced stress. This contributes to their independent longevity, and their ongoing participation in the community.

 In this Covid 19 pandemic, we taught our students (and their parents) to be grateful, and to not give up. We taught them to not wait for it to pass, but to accept it and make the best of it. We put new things in place. Our students made it through 10 weeks of doing things differently and they’ve learned many new skills.  It was hard, but we all survived and we’ve all become stronger.

We hope that this will spread wider and have a positive influence on our community.

What challenges does your dance studio, Love To Dance, face?


We are challenged with how to catch up the three months during covid – recovery of financial loss over three months with little income, continued rental and utility, and other commitments.

The whole world is currently turned upside down and inside out. But we see these obstacles as stepping stones, not mountains.

Street Dance

LTD Street Dance in Merritt Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

In this time of Covid 19, how is Love to Dance managing to stay connected with the dancers and the community?

SET UP VIRTUAL DANCE STUDIO

When we had to close our physical doors at the end of the day on March 16, after just one day of Spring Dance Camp, we decided to explore the possibility of changing from a brick and mortar dance studio to a virtual dance studio.

We attended many webinars presented by four different dance associations and got ourselves set up for Zoom classes and coaching by video.

To keep the interest in dance going, we lowered our class fees to encourage attendance.

BALLET

Ballet Dancer

LTD Ballet Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

To give our Royal Academy of Dance ballet students and parents hope, we continued to practice as if our exams, which were scheduled for April 29, were going to take place. 

Students could attend our Zoom ballet classes once per week and they could also make use of our private coaching by video option. 

This worked really well for some students, who had the full support of their parents. But as always happens, we unfortunately also had some dropping out (“stopping dance until the brick and mortar studio re-opens”)…. 

Most dancers have lots of self-discipline and keep up their daily practice while they are placed under movement restrictions, but we notice that they still needed to see each other to feel connected and to be motivated. The weekly Zoom dance classes really help to create some sense of normalcy. 


SPANISH  FLAMENCO

Thirteen of our Spanish Flamenco dance students successfully completed their exams by video at the end of April. 

 

Dance Studio

Herman Nel, Technical Expert for Love to Dance Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

SENIORS

We also set up ZOOM exercise classes for our seniors to help improve their balance, posture and flexibility and also improve your sense of well being – physical, emotional and mental. Payment for classes is by donation.

None of this would have been possible without Herman, my husband. To set all of this up, was a steep learning curve and involved some expenses.

What is next for Love to Dance?

We want to expand opportunities and restructure the dance program to accommodate what is currently happening all over the world.  It will be a constant dynamic situation going forward.

Keep an eye on Love To Dance’s current initiative that the members of Love to Dance Society can participate in.

Ongoing MEDAL TESTS

To further keep the interest in dance going we started having Medal Awards by video during the months of May and continue for June. This is open to everyone in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. Participants can enter Ballet, Jazz, Spanish and Folk/National dances – set dances and/or own choreography and interpretive dancing.

We noticed how the fun element and dancing with family members can bring the joy of dance into homes, so we added a section in which you can partner up with a sibling or parent or grandparent to dance a duet. 

Video submissions must happen before June 26 and participants will each receive a bronze, silver or gold certificate and medal in the beginning of July.

Merritt Dance Studio

Thank you, Lizette, for telling us all about the Love to Dance Academy! Many of us in the community are grateful to have an inspired dance studio here in Merritt.

Just one more advantage to living here in the Nicola Valley!

Support our art and culture in our community!

We hope to see the doors of the Love To Dance Studio open soon!
Merritt Dance Studio

Love To Dance Studio, still closed Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Artist Cassandra Dolen

Dance in the Nicola Valley Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Teacher

LTD Head Dance Instructor Lizette Nel Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

CONTACT LOVE TO DANCE

1976 Quilchena Avenue, +1 250 378 9898

www.lovetodanceacademy.com

LTDADANCE@GMAIL.COM

Facebook Love to Dance Academy

Instagram Love to Dance Academy, The Merritt Dance Teacher

Art and Culture Blogger, Jano Howarth

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Remembering Merritt BC Summer Music Events 

Nicola Valley Summer Time Fun Will Be Back

COVID19 may have postponed our Merritt BC summer music events but it will never take away our memories. 

 

The COVID 19 pandemic has cancelled our Merritt BC summer music events. And, boy, do we have some music classics here in the Nicola Valley like Bass Coast, Rockin’ River Music Festival, Open Mic Night and Gary Copper at the Adelphi Hotel to mention a few. However, it would not feel right to write a blog about remembering summer music events without mentioning Spirit Square, music in the park, and the Old Time Fiddlers playing at our local street market. As a result, no country music event blog would be complete without mentioning our very own cowboy crooner Bobbie Garcia,  who may just pop up at any of our music events at anytime.

merritt bc summer events

Bobbie Garcia – Photo courtesy of Bobbie Garcia

Take the time to check out “Cooper Country” post COVID 19 

Merritt BC’s oldest heritage Hotel, the Adelphi Hotel, is home to one of Canada’s and Merritt’s country icons, Gary Cooper. The group plays weekly to a growing collection of avid fans while welcoming their friends from all over the world to get up on stage and jam along with them. Therefore, it will especially be nice to witness some good ole’ country music again sometime in the future.  

merritt bc summer music events

Gary Copper – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

To say nothing of Gary Cooper’s amazing talent to make that guitar dance with such mind blowing movements. Albeit I may be a little biased, but I can honestly say Gary Cooper is one of the best performers I have ever witnessed.” Tania Stewart

 

merrittcoopercountry

Cooper Country invites all friends to join on stage – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

“Cooper Country” Gary Cooper with his 2 son’s Cory & Jason, along with friends at the Adelphi Bar in Merritt BC

 

nicolavalleycoopercountry

Millie playing with her favourite band! – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

When we get pass this pandemic, be sure to attend “Open Mic” at Kekuli Café and support local artists

Whether you live in Merritt or stopping for gas at the Seven-Eleven across the street from the Kekuli Café, there is nothing that connects more with locals than locals sharing their love for music. We hope, soon, weekends at the Kekuli Cafe will open up again and fill the air with music.  Furthermore, the many Open Mic Music fans like Doug, Donna and Mary Dickie (who is in her 90s) cannot wait to pick this up again.  

Open Mic Nights

Open Mic Nights Audience – Photo courtesy of Jano Howarth

“As with all events like Open Mic Nights, our audience is what makes it ongoing.” Jano Howarth

WATCH VIDEO

Remember when we could take a stroll in the evening in Downtown Merritt BC 

Merritt’s Spirit Square was built for sound. Located in the heart of Downtown Merritt in the Nicola Valley, it is the sight of many open-air performances during the summer months. Because of the abundance of talent in the Nicola Valley there is never a lack of talent to grace the stage. The Nicola Valley is blessed to have so many talented musicians. 

MerrittNicolavalley

Coquihalla Coyotes  – Photo courtesy of Coquihalla Coyotes

One such local band which has played venues throughout the Nicola Valley are the Coquihalla Coyotes. The boys are a 3 piece rock and blues band for hire living in Merritt BC
Band Members: John-Henry Ramsey- Lead guitar/ Vocals, Paul Thompson- Bass guitar/ Vocals, Mark Schuitema- Drums/ Backup vocals

merrittspiritsquare

The J.S Garcia Band. – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

 

spiritsquaremerritt

Summer music in Spirit Square – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

Nicolavalleymusic

Merritt’s own Old Time Fiddlers – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

“Bass Coast” 

They sure made an impression. How it has grown. Then Covid 19 hit and it too paid a big price with cancellation. What was going to be July 10 – 13th, 2020 is now ?? ??.   Bass Coast is a collective that showcases both local and international talent in a safe, supportive space. It is a place where artists are encouraged to display and share their hard work without fear of judgment. 

Merrittbcsummermusic

Andrea Graham with Liz Thompson Bass Coast co-founders – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

“Bass Coast is built on the dreams and visions of a huge collection of people that will lead us to things Andrea and I would never have imagined. It’s not just us anymore, it’s everyone.” Liz Thompson

 

Merritt BC Summer Electronic Music

Bass Coast 2019 – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

Post COVID 19 , this is one festival I cannot wait to attend again

Co-founders Andrea Graham and Liz Thomson are the architects of the event. The Librarian, Andrea, is a celebrated Canadian DJ, producer, and curator. She is the co-founder and music director of Bass Coast Music Festival. The festival is known internationally for its innovative music programming and installation art.  Andrea’s reputation as an inclusive community-builder in the electronic world has brought her a legion of fans and industry followers across the globe.

“I feel like in our community we have people who listen to different music, dress differently and are into different things, but that duality is also what creates a bond—our differences unite us.” Liz Thomson

Bass Coast 2019  - Merritt BC Summer Music

Country Music will be back in full force post COVID – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

Remembering Merritt BC Summer Country Music Events

Due to your love of Country, the Rockin River Fest was scheduled again for Jul 30 – Aug 2 this year of 2020. The headliner this year was Keith Urban. However, things have changed since COVID 19 arrived in full force. Now there is a pent up energy for country music again and so we believe next year it is going to be epic. The Rockin’ River Music Fest is a B.C. family-owned and operated country music festival that takes place annually, on the BC Day long weekend, in Merritt, BC. See you in 2021!

Merritt BC Summer Country Music

Enjoying Rockin at the River – Photo courtesy of ehCanadaTravel.com

Kenny Hess 

Kenny Hess is the architect behind the Rockin River Music Festival.  From the age of 4, he knew he was going to be a country music singer. Therefore, by the time Kenny was a teenager he had already set in motion his musical journey that he is still on today. Lastly, Kenny Hess has now been a part of the music industry since the 80’s.  He has come a long way since standing on the kitchen table singing at the top of his lungs hoping someone would listen.

WATCH VIDEO

 

With this in mind be sure to check out this amazing fun event in 2021.

 

Merritt BC Summer Music

Rockin River Music Festival – Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart

In a word

Obviously Merritt in the Summer offers an abundance of music events year after year, except for this year.  Regardless which event you choose to partake in the future the value is always there. Count yourself lucky! In conclusion, it is obvious that summer music events in Merritt BC are bountiful and will be back again. 

Merritt Summer Music Events

Follow Experience Nicola Valley for the latest in event listings coming back online. 

Merritt, British Columbia, Canada


Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Saddle Making in Merritt BC – Part 1

Custom saddlery in the Nicola Valley specializing in working cowboy saddles

“It might surprise you as to who the customers are that choose the most ornate hand carved saddles? You guessed it. The roughest toughest cowboys around do ornate the best. Ha ha.”

Saddle Making in Merritt BC Canada – The Nicola Valley is blessed with a cowboy culture.  As a result, every cowboy needs a quality saddle.  The community of Merritt, British Columbia, Canada is my home, and it is the cowboy culture  that has grown my passions for leather work in the area of saddles, as well as, chaps, and custom carvings. 

First Steps to Saddle Making in Merritt

saddle maker in merritt

Cowboy Wade

The first step in Merritt saddle making is to select the saddle tree. To do so lets use my current customer saddle I am working on. I selected a 16”wade with a wood post (ie. larger diameter neck horn mostly used for roping cattle). Therefore my second decision was to select a 41/2” cantle. The reason for the taller cantle is to create a more secure seat for riding rough horses. In this case, it was a pick up saddle for competing in saddle bronc events at rodeo competitions. 

experience merritt

Saddle Making Decorations 

saddle making designs

Custom flower design

The customer, a repeat customer I might add, decided on the tree and the exterior look of his saddle. (ie. rough out ). Furthermore,  my customers have design options when ordering a saddle from me. Many decorate the smooth side with intricate flower designs or a unique basket weave pattern. Therefore, the possibilities are literally endless. You ask? I can do it! Consequently this customer  chose a rough out (meaning flesh side of the leather for you newbies).

Leather Selection

The first thing I do is acquire saddle skirting from a reputable tannery. In this case Hermann Oak located in St. Louis Missouri is my go-to tannery. The acid (oak bark) process takes about 3 months long.  The finished leather is about 1/4” to 3/8” thick.

The second thing I do is apply a heavy 3/4”bark tan sheepskin (a tougher tan to withstand more abuse specific to the saddle industry). 

The Tools of Saddle Making in Merritt Canada

Horse shoe brand hdw

First of all, lets be clear, Don Loewen Saddlery uses nothing but the best quality materials available. I have found that the line of stainless steel hardware designed by and for working professionals, the horse shoe brand by Jeremiah Watt,  fits the bill perfectly.  In other words the cowboys of the Nicola Valley and beyond demand and deserve the best. 

Pattern Making

The patterns used in the saddle making process are very important. Every saddle maker should have their own style that can be identified at a distance. Therefore, it is clear to many, that the profile is a big part of what sells my saddles.

First… the saddle must be a comfortable functional product that is both balanced and pleasing to the eye. For example the grasslands of the Nicola Valley was the inspiration for the deep rounded skirt style that I designed for this client. 

Cutting the Leather 

The working cowboys in the Nicola Valley,  at least 30 to 40 full time cowboys, are employed and spend most of their working day in the saddle from pre-daybreak and into the late  afternoon . Having said that , these saddles take a real beating.  

The saddle parts that require more wear-and-tear or strength are taken out on the hip or but end of the hide, and the parts that require more stretch than strength come from the belly or flanks. The knife I use to cut the leather is a razor sharp head knife – a half round blade with a handle in the center.

In conclusion I hope you enjoyed this first segment. Part 2 will take on the exciting challenge of an all leather ground seat and shaping the skirts and some more of the knives and tools used daily in the saddle shop.

In closing I would like to leave you with the song “Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” by Waylon Jennings. 

Merritt Saddle Making in Style

   Home to all your custom Saddlery needs


Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Merritt Canada Stories Celebrated At The Blogger Awards 2020!

The Nicola Valley comes together to hear about the successes of ExperienceNicolaValley.com!

Note! This event happened on Mar 6/2020, just a week before social distancing settled on our valley, province, country, world. Glad we celebrated these Merritt Canada stories just in time… Stay safe!

Merritt Canada stories and experiences are everywhere around us. Our job is to find them and then celebrate them. The 2020 Bloggers Awards were held in early March, and people from the Merritt community and elsewhere gathered at the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame for good food, music, info, acknowledgments, and laughs. The tables were full and conversations were lively!

merritt canada stories blog awards

The Experience Nicola Valley 2020 Blogging Awards Gala

A fun evening celebrating Merritt Canada stories!

colin and greg girard

Colin-Website Creator and Greg Girard-Program Consultant, Trainer – (photo credit) Julie Pollard

Celebrating Experience Nicola Valley story tellers

Just a month earlier, creators and consultants of the community blogging website Experience Nicola Valley, brothers Greg and Colin Girard, and Melvina White, thought it was time to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the contributing bloggers. How? Golden trophies at an event like the Academy Awards, of course! Add a local twist of prime rib beef (ranch country!) and music by longtime popular locals, Tammy Weymouth and Stuart Emslie. And, oh yes, a talk by a travel influencer, a popular Canadian Vlogger. All in all, it was fun, unique, exciting and something the Nicola Valley has not seen around these parts for a long time.  A total success. 

Melvina White-Blogger and Event Coordinator

Nicola Valley Bloggers Telling Merritt Canada Stories

Bloggers for the Experience Nicola Valley website have been promoting the town of Merritt and the Nicola Valley for almost three years.

The group of bloggers have been writing about businesses, services, individuals, and non-profits in the community. The blogs are full of info, insights, photos, and things to do in our area, with a focus on adventures of all kinds in the community and valley.

The bloggers meet up almost every month to plan their next steps, talk about upcoming events, and the choices for upcoming blogs. The blogging is done out of a passion for our community, and the hope to show off the town of Merritt and the beautiful Nicola Valley to those far and wide, to bring a benefit to all of us who live here.

Check out all the blogs on our site! Lots! Such a variety! But I digress…

Community and Blogger Nominations

Not only were the bloggers up for acknowledgments, but also the people in the community who had been the focus of the blogs. So businesses, events, Non-Profits, organizations and individuals were nominated for the interest they had generated online.

bloggers of nicola valley

Blog award winners and nominees – (photo credit) Julie Pollard

The awards choices were made by tracking the online data! The statistics of the views, Likes, Shares on the website and Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) determined the picks for the nominations. After intense review, the coordinators of the Experience Nicola Valley group sent out nominations for different categories, like best photo, most popular blog, and best event blog.

A great idea to share the successes of the community blogging endeavor with the community it serves! An Awards Gala! A Merritt Canada Bloggers Awards Gala!

Put the Bloggers to Work!

The bloggers pitched in to plan, create, decorate, and man the stations at the Gala. There was a wet bar, filled with beverages of all kinds, tables set up with candles for the ticket holders and the nominees, and two tables ready for a delicious catered  dinner.

The stage at the Country Music Hall of Fame was filled with a big TV for the presentations, mics for the speakers and performers, framed acknowledgements for the nominees and golden trophies for the winners.

Julie Pollard and Tania Stewart took photos all evening of all the fun and action. So did I!

Tania Stewart-Blogger and Photographer

And at the red carpet entrance to the beautiful venue, our blogger and emcee, Tom Reynolds looking natty in a suit and  light-up bow tie, greeted the Gala comers and guided them in various directions. 

Tom Reynolds-Blogger

Greg Interviews the Nominees

Greg Girard is very excited about the worldwide response to the Experience Nicola Valley blogs! And he works hard to be sure our blogs get out there! At each of our meetings, he shares with us the data that is pouring in- the number of blogs read, page views, website visits. He tracks for us the social media attention our posts are getting, all the shares of the Merritt and Nicola Valley outdoor adventures, events, restaurants, gift shops, art and culture. Greg researches the status of our blogs on the Google searches, noting which are doing well, and which need tweaking. He is as determined as we are to bring lots of attention to the exciting and worthwhile things going on in our valley.

And while his brother Colin makes the website magic happen behind the scenes, Greg is ready in the bright lights of the cameras. But his purpose? Show off this great community and the people who make it that way. He interviewed all the nominees as the evening began. (Look for the full list of interviews on the Experience Nicola Valley You Tube and Facebook Pages.

jano howarth - arts blogger telling merritt canada stories

Myself, being interviewed by the Awards Gala emcee (photo credit) Julie Pollard

2020 Blogging Award Categories and Nominees

 

merritt event blogging awards

People’s Choice Nominees

(Individual/Event)

(Ellen Miller) Nicola Valley Women’s Fair
Don Loewen Saddlery
Open Mic Night

People’s Choice Nominees
(Business)

Game On Sports
Boston Pizza
Mary’s Corner Cafe

People’s Choice Nominees
(Non Profit)

Seniors Centre 
Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame 
Nicola Valley Food Bank 

Top Guest Blogger Nominees

Amber Papou
Meagan Preston
Manuel Olguin

Best Picture Nominees (Blogger)

Julie Pollard (Fall in the Nicola Valley)
Diane Lavoie (Boston Pizza)
Tania Stewart (Nicola Valley Rodeo)

Top Story Nominees (Blog)

Melvina White (George Jones)
Diane Lavoie (Things To Do In Merritt)
Tania Stewart (A-P Ranch)

Story Teller of the Year Nominees (Blogger)

Tania Stewart
Tom Reynolds
Melvina White
***

Socialize and Network About Merritt BC Canada Stories

The spacious setting at the Hall of Fame was full and noisy, with lots of laughter, and a few introductions exchanged. People mingled and chatted, sharing stories of the blogs. And took photos before settling in to a hearty plate of medium rare prime rib beef with roasted veg. And celebratory cake….

 

Networking before dinner – Tony and Wanda Luck

telling merritt canada stories at our table

My table at the Experience Nicola Valley Blogging Awards Gala

Community Involvement from Open Mic

Open Mic, a successful Nicola Valley Arts Council program, running for two and a half years at the Kekuli Cafe, received an event nomination for a blog written about it. This long running live music weekly event is worth a blog, or two, or three! We have a solid crew running it, regular local musicians playing at it, as well as lots of variety with locals who come now and then and visitors passing through and playing a set or two. And even more regulars in our audience!

For this event, Open Mic closed up at Kekuli and we filled a double table at the Gala with crew, musicians, and Open Mic fans. My daughter Tasya traveled from Vancouver to celebrate with us. And as she usually does, got busy helping along with the bloggers.

Open Mic table

Usually the Sound Guy for Open Mic, Amrit Ahuja got out his video equipment to cover this event. Amrit shares his time between sound recording, music creating, and videography. He spent the evening behind the video cam and we look forward to a short promo with lots of highlights of the Gala. Of course we saved him some cake!

WATCH VIDEO

 

Amrit Ahuja-Videographer and Open Mic Sound Guy

Then the Awards!

The Experience Nicola Valley event coordinators put on a great awards presentation, acknowledging the nominees and crediting the award winners.  Greg split his presentation between info on the nominees, and jokes to engage the crowd.

boston pizza merritt bc

Boston Pizza accepts their award for BEST Business Story by a Blogger- (photo credit) Julie Pollard

Guest Speaker on Social Media

Matt and Karla, popular You Tube vloggers from Calgary, Alberta joined us for the evening. Matt was the special guest speaker. He talked to us about the importance of social media supported by a beautiful slide presentation from their travels across Canada.  The info he provided was familiar to those of us blogging with Greg, as Greg has inspired us with the possibilities of a great online presence and how to do it. Matt’s talk gave us his own story through the online process to their personal success, focusing especially on You Tube. His statistics were impressive, and I’m sure convinced many in the room why it’s worth getting our local stories online and out to the global community.

matthew bailey

Keynote speaker at the ENV Awards Gala – Matthew Bailey of Must Do Canada – (photo credit) Julie Pollard

Many thanks to Matt and Karla for their perspective, and for coming all this way to celebrate our successes with us and sharing theirs!

Check out their entertaining and beautiful You Tube channel, Must Do Canada!

Arts in the Community

While the stage set up was changed for our live music performance, I took the opportunity for a five minute talk about the Nicola Valley Arts Council. I blog about art and culture in the community, while serving as the Arts Gallery Director for the Arts Council. 

How much info can I squeeze into 5 minutes. Lots, if I talk fast. So I did! And gave away several free memberships in the Arts Council!

nicola valley arts council

Jano Howarth (moi) during my 5 minute talk during the Awards Gala – (photo credit) Julie Pollard

And Live Music from Stuart and Tammy

We loved this part of the evening. It was a great wind down.  Lots of visiting, chatting, and a little dancing to some covers, and some beautiful original music from Tammy Weymouth and Stuart Emslie.

 

Tammy and Stuart live music

Story Telling Songs Fitting For The End of the Gala

The whole room quieted when Stuart sang some of the emotional songs he has written. Stuart is involved with a group focused on mental health in youth, and how to mitigate and express their difficult experiences.  Stuart’s personal experiences have inspired him to get involved and contribute his musical talents.

So, for a few moments during a joyful night, we were reminded of what community is about. Contribution and serving. And getting together…

“Have some fun, do some good.”, as my recently passed partner Gord Cockle always said.

A Lot of Fun, and Doing Good in the Community

As the evening drew to a close, the people voiced their appreciation for our blogging endeavor. We were glad to stop briefly, work hard, and pull off a fun Gala, a dress up evening in our small town. To take time to celebrate each other. And celebrate with others.

Fun at the Blogger Gala event!

Thanks to Greg, Colin, Melvina, all the bloggers, and everyone who came to our Gala evening. Glad we did it!

Still so much to blog about! We feel like we have just scratched the surface with over a hundred blogs in our almost 2.5 years! It’s a small town in a big valley. Lots of history to write about. Lots of people, businesses, organizations, non-profits. Great adventures, restaurants, services…. 

Our Experience Nicola Valley group has lots to inspire us. As a group, we inspire each other to keep going and promote our town, our valley. And tell some great stories.

And for now… #staysafe #stayhealthy #flattenthecurve

This is a whole new reality to write about. Blessings…

Jano Howarth 

Art and Culture Blogger

 

Blogging in Merritt, B.C.

Creating your Merritt Canada stories and experiences for the world


Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Culture and Art Show for Children

Merritt artists create inspiring art for children in our new Gallery Show!

“Out of inspiration comes curiosity, motivation, desire, and the creative process.”

Art for children in Merritt BC is thriving! We asked our local artists to bring in, or create new art that would inspire children’s ideas and imaginations. And we have had a wonderful response with over 25 artists participating in our five week-long show. It’s up! It’s fun and colourful! And it’s on until 4pm, Saturday, March 14, 2020. Come on by!

Art for Children

Children in Art, Art for Children

How did we get so many artists to contribute to a show about art for children?

First, we put a call out to artists in the fall, through our membership newsletter, our local papers, and social media.

Then an email went out directly to most of the artists who have participated in our shows in the past, and a few we would love to gather into our active arts and culture community.

Lastly,  were our personal reach outs to those who popped in to see us at the Gallery, or who called in for questions, or met at events like Open Mic, and on the street! We did our best to reach out to as much of the Nicola Valley community as we could!

Art horses

Miriam Loken’s “A Moment with Max”

What’s in our Art for Children show?

Of course, we have children in the art…

  • Miriam Loken’s A Moment with Max features a child and a horse
  • Nancy Ellingsen’s grandchildren’s portraits, Ember and Logan
  • Bruce Walter’s photo A Teachable Moment, children in nature
  • Jean Kiegerl’s Reborn with a father and his baby girl
  • Judy Young’s amusing Shopping with Dad
  • Robert Moretti’s Camping Branch Swinging 
  • Joel Reid’s large graffiti 3 Candles
Art for Children

Artists Michael Behrens and Joel Reid Paintings

Art can inspire.

But a lot of the art in the show is meant to inspire children, of all ages- from babies to teens. We have paintings – watercolour, acrylic, and pastel…. depicting a variety of subjects like butterflies, undersea creatures, fanciful trees and mountains by artists Joel Reid, Fran McMurchy, Karen Otway, Michael Behrens, Shirley Reynolds, and Herta Klassen, Gale Simpson, and Diane Wandler.

Paintings, 3D pieces, mixed media…

We have 3D pieces, like Pius Chong’s monkey and Amanda Pryzner-Dunn’s folded steam engine (protected in a glass case). Kelly Reid brought in two magical fairy gardens made from a mix of materials, like a path of pennies, and a tiny tea cup.

painting in merritt

Tina Barlow’s Love, Laugh

There are mixed media pieces like Lin Butler Buchanan’s stunning dark Sunflowers at Night, and Tina Barlow’s The Laugh Love Tree. There are cloth and fibre art pieces like Cindy Trent’s Circus quilt and Vickie Strom’s bright woven wall hanging.

Amanda submitted paper cuts depicting three fairy tales. Can you guess them? Visit the show and see!

And we are displaying whimsical pieces like a Vicki’s felt mouse, Barb Sayles’ vintage dolls, and Pam Clark’s adorable knit bunnies and chicks.

And My Topsy Turvy Circus Diorama

I jumped in myself for this show and created a five foot Circus diorama, populated with several dolls and puppets from my collection. They are dressed as jesters, clowns, mimes, trapeze artists, and horse trainers for the occasion. My favourite wooden Czech Marionette hangs high up in the Topsy Turvy Circus, attracting children to see the three ring performances. All in the imagination, of course. And I tried my hand at doll faceups, including a mime face on a Berenguer doll. Fun!

Children artists in merritt

Jano Howarth’s Mime Face Up

Art for children is one way to reach out to children.

As a life long educator, with over 30 years of interaction with children of all ages, I have realized how important inspiration is to the process of creativity and life itself. Out of inspiration comes curiosity, motivation, desire, and the creative process. Art is a very effective way to reach children! There are so many forms of artistic creativity that can appeal to children’s natural interests and help them identify their own passions and life directions.

When I put the call out to artists I said:

“This show is about children and how we inspire them to take their own path- maybe art, maybe another passion. Think of Cindy Trent’s quilt depicting the layers in the earth. Inspiration for quilting? painting? sculpture? photography? geography? zoology? ecology? writing? Art that stimulates the imagination. And not necessarily kids stuff.”

children art

Art Bud’s Renee Hartwig

And that’s what we got! One gentleman was expecting art by children, or at least childlike art. And we certainly have on display some very cute art, and art that is appealing to the child in all of us! Our Art Buds teacher, Renee Hartwig, brought in her Bunny on a Hill painting that brings out the oohs and aahs in children and adults alike. 

“Interesting, beautiful, quirky, or socially conscious art”

But we have some sophisticated pieces that can stimulate great ideas for parents, grandparents, etc. on how to look for and choose art for a child’s room. Or art for a living room or dining room (or waiting room, or educator’s office) where children can be exposed to interesting, beautiful, quirky, or socially conscious art.

children and art in merritt

Art to Inspire Children

 
Even some of our local artists were challenged by the idea for this show! But it didn’t take long, in this community of creative artists, to bring together over forty-five pieces of inspiring art for children. I am very excited and pleased with the wonderful responses, from the artists, and from the visitors, local and out-of-towners, who have come by the show already. 

We have art that stimulates, amuses, and soothes.

Art for Children

Vicki Strom’s Felt Mouse

We had a great Reception the other night, complete with marshmallow squares, of course! But with chocolate, whipped cream and fresh orange toppings! Thanks, Diane! And thanks to Lin, Joel, and all the volunteers who helped put this show together!

Now that the show is up, the people are coming by with and without children. Thursday to Saturday, 12-6pm.

We have invited teachers to bring classes. (Just let me know! nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com or Jano 250-315-3437)

Art for Children in Merritt, BC… Alive and Well! 

For more info on this show, or upcoming shows at the Nicola Valley Arts Gallery at the old Courthouse on Nicola Avenue contact me at 250-315-3437 or email nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com

Jano Howarth, Arts Gallery Director and community supporter!

Art Things To Do in Merritt, BC

Check out some of our past Arts Gallery Shows

  •  Open Mic Weekly! Friday nights 7-9 pm at Kekuli Cafe
  • Gallery Shows every five weeks or less! At the the old Courthouse Arts Gallery, 1840 Nicola Avenue, Merritt BC. Thursday to Saturday, 12-6 pm
  • Gallery Shop all year round, and yearly popular Artisan Winter Show
  • Arts Classes, course and workshops- visit our website for info
  • Special Arts Events: Mayor’s Gala, Jazz in the Attic, Art in the Park

Join the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council! Tax receipt for Memberships and Donations! Online or pop in to the Gallery.

Jano’s

Interested in doll characters and photo stories?

  • Website: Hiya Dolly
  • Facebook and Instagram Hiya Dolly

More on the Art for Children Show…

Bev Veale contributed an in-progress piece designed for a child’s involvement… Come in and find all the animals!

Bev has been painting the flora and fauna of the Nicola Valley for decades. And she continues to contribute her support and show submissions! Anyone interested in an original Bev Veale, contact me!

NVCAC Vice President Karen Otway’s colourful painting is both our cover photo, and our show poster. Thanks Karen!

And getting ready for the Topsy Turvy Circus kept me happily busy for days!

art and culture in merritt

Topsy Turvy Circus by Jano Howarth

Get inspired with your children! Get a hold of a canvas, a fun item to paint, and get busy!

Art for Children

Inspired!

Art for Children in Merritt British Columbia Canada

Nicola Valley Arts Council

 

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