Summer Art Shows in Merritt BC

Clothing and Body Art Shows Liven Up Gallery

Body Art Shows in Merritt BC

Poster for Body Art Show

Body Embellishments and Wearable Art 

Summer Art Shows in Merritt, BC, at the Nicola Valley Arts Gallery, brought out the creativity of different artists in our community. They were just another great example of how resilient artists are during Covid

Body Art Shows in Merritt

For our Body Art Show in July, our tattoo, airbrush, and henna artists displayed their work with flair and personality. The hair stylists and makeup artists pushed the boundaries even further which just upped the level of fun in the show.

The Talent

During our fun opening reception several guests had hand henna art done by Prianne Dhesa, or temporary body art by Amy Maclaren. Photos of celebrities, famous people, and locals with tattoos and wild hairstyles livened up the gallery as well. And of course we had art by several of our Nicola Valley creatives.

We enjoyed music by guitarist Steve Atlas of the local group Stratosphere. Steve had an impressive and enjoyable two hour playlist and also chatted with the art show guests. (Photo of Steve Atlas below)

Tattoo Artist

Brian Wheeler of Sin on Skin Tattoos Merritt. Photo credit: Jano Howarth

Thanks to local tattoo artists Brian Wheeler of Sin on Skin Tattoo, and Marco Merulla of Mom’s Tattoos. Beautiful, thoughtful, and fun work! I now have tats in progress from both of these tattoo masters…. (Photo of Marco Merulla below)

Art of Clothing, Creativity in Merritt BC

For our Art of Clothing Show that followed, well over a dozen local weavers, clothes designers, embroiderers, upcyclers and artists provided us with a creative display, from trench coats to hats to felted vests. We had lots of OOAK (one of a kind) pieces of clothing as well as art pieces depicting fashion. 

Wearable art for the people of the Nicola Valley and for all the visitors who stopped in to see the show.

Fires in the Valley, Art anyway…

Art of Clothing Show

Art of Clothing Show. Photo credit: Jano Howarth

From the beginning of the summer art shows in Merritt BC, until the end of our Art of Clothing show, the Nicola Valley and surrounding areas were under threat from wild fires, out of control. Artists of our two shows, our workshop instructors and Gallery volunteers were on alert and many were evacuated from their homes for days and weeks.

But we had lots of visitors through the Gallery! Despite the danger of fire and heavy smoke people traveled to the Interior of BC, risking road closures and extended stays.  People enjoyed the distraction of our local creativity and these unique shows. 

Thank you to Artists and Creative Help

Thanks to our Art of Clothing artists! Several created work just for our show. 

Thanks to our student volunteer, artist Olivia Nendick. She helped with our shows, or kids art events, and submitted pieces herself. (Photo of Olivia below)

And special thanks to our stellar summer worker, just graduated and an artist also, Karianne Kroeker. Kari tackled any job given to her, from mundane to creative.

Merritt Art Shows

Karianne Kroeker, Artist and Clothing Upcycler. Photo credit: Jano Howarth

Kari put together photo collages for the Body Art show, submitted pieces she had sewn, painted, and blinged for the Art of Clothing show. She came made up and dressed ever day for our creative space, chatted with guests and visitors, and participated in Kids Art classes. 

What Creativity is Next?

The summer art shows in Merritt BC have come to a close, but there’s no stopping creativity. In hard times or good, creativity flows. We are happy at the NVCAC to inspire and be inspired. What’s the next inspired show?

Watch here for a blog post or read a bit about it and our other art shows this year on my site on creativity, learning, and journaling Meme Dreams

Click to my blog here on Experience Nicola Valley about our move to a new location last fall, and art in Merritt, BC.

Thanks for stopping by! Remember, express yourself!

Jano Howarth

Nicola Valley Arts Centre Gallery Curator

Visit our Nicola Valley Arts website

Facebook Gallery and Gift Shop

Merritt Gallery ShowsArt of Clothing, Cindilla Trent’s felted vestSummer Art Shows MerrittArt of Clothing, Olivia NendickTattoo ArtistBody Art Show, Marco Merulla of Mom’s Tattoos
Body Art Show MerrittBarb Tomkinson, Maureen Lisle at Body Art ShowBody Art  Steve Atlas MusicMusic Steve Atlas, Body Art ShowArt of Clothing Show MerrittRichard Lepinsky Music, Art of Clothing Show
All photos provided and credit goes to Jano Howarth

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Art During Covid in Merritt BC

Creativity Persists, even in the middle of a pandemic

Our art show in February 2021 was full of light, beauty and humour

 

Art during Covid in Merritt BC helped lots of people pass the time during our lockdown and careful year.

Artists and artisans expressed how creativity, theirs and others, made the restrictions bearable. Some came regularly to our Arts Centre, with Gallery shows, a well stocked gift shop, and even our Program Space where we held very respectful events. 

We also provided the public with art classes online, as well as continuing our regular meetings via Zoom.

Special Community Art Show, Art During Covid

Art of Covid

Nancy Ellingsen art, Kim Leclair poster

In February we held a special community show, called The Art During Covid, Creativity Persists. We invited people in our Nicola Valley to submit art they had created during 2020 and early 2021. 

We were excited to see how the show came together, from paintings to pottery. And we were surprised at how positive the show was, overall. Despite the challenging times we were experiencing, and how difficult it was for people to endure, the show was full of light, colour, beauty and humour.

Overcoming sadness and separation with creativity

Art During Covid

Lin Butler Buchanan’s Covid 2020, Open Wounds

Of course there were expressions of trouble and sadness. The year was spent battling separations of family, the disappearance of social gatherings, and job losses. It was difficult for people not to succumb to feelings of loss and separation. 

At the Arts Centre we faced a difficult move, changing locations, and had to juggle all the participation, cleaning, and renos required. We missed several of our key contributing members who couldn’t risk even a bit of contact. 

Mission to stay connected

Art During Covid

Sharon Antoine, leather and beadwork

However, the NVCAC’s overriding mission during this difficult time was to help the community feel welcome, and keep up contact, even with restrictions. We stuck to the protocols so most people felt safe to come in to our Arts Centre and see our Gallery shows, browse in our gift shop, and sign up for an online art class.

The February Art During Covid Show had close to 20 participants. We were not able to hold a reception, but a steady steam of people came during the five week show. We made sure we posted lots of photos online, so extra-careful people could see the submissions.

One of our submissions was a large chalkboard, for people to write about what creativity they were up to during Covid. However, artist and NVCAC president, Mischelle Pierce’s own story, that she wrote to encourage others, was such an inspiration we just chose to leave it as one of the artworks.

Art of Covid

Art During Covid stories

The art show elicited story after story from people in the community, telling how they were keeping up their creative processes with the long hours at home.

They found they had time to do art

Art During Covid

Online classes and respectful in person art sessions

A common theme was how, with the stay at home orders in early spring 2020 that persisted for many, they found they had time to do art they hadn’t done for years. And some began arts and crafts that they had always wanted to do and had never tried.

Even local musicians, who were really missing our live music events like Open Mic, submitted songs they had written or worked on during the year. We played them on our YouTube channel at  the Gallery during the art show. 

Mandala Art

Kathleen Kinasewic Soul Circle Mandalas

An online art class that went over really well was Mandala Art with Kathleen Kinasewich, of Soul Circle Mandalas. Kathleen led a small group for a couple of hours, doing the healing and meditative process of mandala art work.

I am thankful myself, as the Gallery Curator, for the suggestion to do this theme for our regular February Community show. In the past we have presented an Art of Sound Show, an Art for Children, Children in Art Show, and other fun and interesting themes…. 

This show felt very meaningful

Art During Covid

Nona Tickner’s Wash Your Hands

This show felt very meaningful, to acknowledge and honour the way people rise to a difficult situation. Often our difficult times are experienced just in our own circle. But the Covid Pandemic brought us an experience that was felt, and still is, all over the world. And through our Art of Covid show we were able to gather some of the expressions of people in our Nicola Valley, and share them. 

The stories from this Pandemic continue. We hope that creativity and art expressions continue to help people get through this difficult time.

Art expresses our true feelings

Darkness, loss, and sadness to inspiration and light.  Art expresses our true feelings. Thanks to all who shared their creativity during this show with us. 

Express yourself!

And to see what else is happening in our Nicola Valley art community, visit my post Nicola Valley Creativity in Action.

Thanks! Jano Howarth

NVCAC Arts Gallery Curator

Visit us at nicolavalleyarts.com

Facebook Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

Facebook Nicola Valley Arts Council

Art of Covid

Cindy Trent’s Corvids

Art of Covid

Kim Vizi Carmen’s Collaboration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merritt Planet Hair & Spa Re-Opening Covid 19 Style

Planet Hair & Spa’s Grand Re-Opening

Were You Go To Get Your Locks On!

Up-date on Planet Hair and Spa in celebration of their 25th Anniversary. 

Planet Hair has persevered by adapting and growing during these troubling times. All the while keeping their fundamental values, “Customers are #1”.  Planet Hair and Spa has re-positioned itself with a fresh new look.  While most people don’t consider the impact our clothes have on our environment, Kathy has truly thought of this. She understands, that more people are becoming aware of Textile Waste and its damage to our environment. Re-cycling with some re-thinking is what Kathy Castro is bringing to her spa! Additionally, as you are getting a great hair style, you can update your wardrobe with Vintageretro  clothes. 

Planet Hair and Spa serving the Nicola Valley, BC

Take your time, impressive selection. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Planet Hair and Spa Merritt BC.

Beautiful prom gowns! Photo Tania Stewart.

Planet Hair and Spa serving the Nicola Valley.

These “Boots” are made for walking.

 

Vintage clothing offers a chance to explore personal style. Tania Stewart.

 

Planet Hair and Spa serving the Nicola Valley, BC

My personal fav! You need to see this beautiful dress!

Accessories are a must!

 

Vintageretro fashion is still going strong in terms of clothing, footwear, and accessories. 

According to the Canadian Lock-down Orders

Due to Covid 19 Kathy Castro owner and operator of Planet Hair & Spa located in Merritt British Columbia had to close her doors . As a result many loyal clients have to suffer through a time of “nasty bedhead hair”.  Due to circumstances out of Kathy’s control, little options were available, but to try and turn a negative into a positive. Hence the re-vamp, re-decorate,  and re-paint of her salon. Having known Kathy for many years, one thing is for sure when talking about Kathy Castro, she rarely lets bad news take her down. 

 

Merrittplanethair

Kathy Castro in the Trenches!

It is important to note that Planet Hair and Spa is truly an Experience Nicola Valley venture and has always been my personal favourite place to get my “do” done.  However, what really makes my haircut experience so special is the opportunity to connect and socialize. Incidentally, I was also blessed to have Kathy as my first guest on the “Nicola Valley Talk Show“.  

WATCH NICOLA VALLEY TALK SHOW INTERVIEW

Merritt Planet Hair & Spa Re-Opening Covid 19 Style

Not only was I very fortunate to have Kathy as my first guest on the “Nicola Valley Talk Show”, I was able to see first hand the work and time that was put into re-decorating her business.  I applaud Kathy and her husband Paul for taking on this massive undertaking. Despite having to close its doors, with little warning, Planet Hair and Spa has re-positioned itself with a fresh and new look for opening day.  

Nicolavalleyplanethair

Our stations are ready for you!

Additionally re-vamping Planet Hair & Spa beauty products display 

When speaking about beauty products Kathy has traveled the world and has done her research. In all honesty, I can say that with all of Kathy’s years of experience she is able to seek out the best beauty products. The fact that Planet Hair stands by their products is just another way they stand behind their service. Kathy understands that hair care is important hence the large selection of products her shop has on display. However, Kathy does ask that all clients do not touch the products because of the COVID 19 safety protocols and, instead, ask to see them. Look, inquire but do not touch.  

Not only does Planet Hair and Spa provide haircuts, colours, and streaks. They also provide some of the best “products” to keep your hair healthy”, Tania Stewart.

To illustrate the vast range of products available 

The products available are many. Too many to list here. But, since summer is coming, they do have some suntan lotion made from hemp that is gaining some good reviews. Then there is the line of AG hair products on her shelves which will take care of your hair. Some of the brand names lining the shelves include “Designer Skin”, “Fiesta”, “Rusk“, “Reuzel” and “Nioxin“.  Whenever you are wanting to tame or inspire your curls then take a look at “DevaCurl“.  Planet Hair & Spa has many of things a person would want for hair and skin care. 

merrittplanethair

Nails are important!

bcplanethair&spa

Comfort is important.

Planet Hair & Spa product wall. “Teetree” is available.

Additionally Planet Hair & Spa offers a wide range of styling items

Equally important are the styling items available like straighteners. For you newbies those are the hot curling devises we use to keep our hair style going. In fact Planet Hair & Spa is a one stop shopping place to purchase everything your hair desires. Not to mention that a coupon or beauty product would make for a great gift!

 

planethairnicolavalley

Taking your appointments serious.

When re-opening social distancing is key 

Kathy has made sure your health is number one when visiting her shop in the Nicola Valley. She has her staff well trained and equipped with all the protective equipment including masks, and head visors. Social distancing will also be respected in her shop with only 3 hair stations operating at one time, which is every second chair in operation.

The separation of the chairs will provide safe social distancing. Truly making sure all clients are safe Kathy has all work stations social distanced as well as in client’s waiting room space. Moreover making your experience stress-free, relaxing while providing assurance for every one’s safety. While giving her clients the needed care and beauty treatment they have been waiting for. 

It is always a Great Experience!

planet hair and spa

Kathy Castro – Planet Hair & Spa

Everyone I talk to about Planet Hair & Spa tell me that Kathy has a way of making you feel like you are their favorite client. Whether it is your first time in her chair or your five-hundredth time having your hair done Kathy makes you feel comfortable and welcomed. What makes this hair salon and spa stand out is truly how gracious Kathy and her team are for having you as a client. 

Without a doubt Kathy is one of the most determined business minds I have been fortunate to know. A fashionista, trend setter, entrepreneur and let us not forget an amazing hair stylist.

 

CONTACT US:

Planet Hair & Spa

2040 Granite Ave,
Merritt, BC V1K 1P3

(250) 378-5558

WEBSITE

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Merritt Medi Spa Entrepreneur Spotlight: Anastaszia Cash

Owner/Operator of Desert Divas and Dons Medi-Spa

Experience Nicola Valley’s Sit-Down with one of Merritt’s Newest Storefronts

 

Merritt Medi Spa : A couple of weeks ago I put together a promotion at Community Futures Nicola Valley. I wanted to promote some local women entrepreneurs here in Merritt BC for International Women’s Day on March 8th. This was how I met the owner and operator of Merritt’s Desert Divas and Dons Medi-Spa, Anastaszia Cash.

Merritt Medi Spa Anastaszia Cash

Anastaszia was a fantastic collaborator to work with during the International Women’s Day promotion. We wound up having a huge success over on the CFNV social media; but I could tell there was a larger story at hand and I wanted to investigate for myself. Luckily, I write a series of articles about Nicola Valley entrepreneurs on Experience Nicola Valley!

Merritt Medi Spa Owner Entrepreneur

Photo Credit: Anastaszia Cash. Anastaszia and her dog, doing ministry work.

Merritt’s Desert Divas and Dons – The Beginning

Upon request for an interview, Anastaszia made arrangements quickly and easily. I got a sit-down interview spanning about an hour, as well as a guided tour of the Medi Spa! During our interview, I learned more about both Anastaszia and her husband Wes, who helps run this Merritt Medi Spa. They had an unreal story to tell, and I was honoured to be given the opportunity to hear it.

Meet Wes and Anastaszia 

Wes and Anastaszia’s career moves led to bicoastal American opportunities in New York, LA & San Jose. Wes was in international demand as a body builder and a fire suppression technician. Anastaszia had made a name for herself as an international gospel preacher, martial artist and master in the beauty industry.

A Long Road Leads to the Nicola Valley

A string of back to back, multiple car accidents, however, would interrupt their plans with countless surgeries. Wes, in particular, endured a broken neck & back. Anastaszia with a severe brain injury, two back to back heart attacks and kidney issues.  Anastaszia and Wes found their previous lifestyles unsafe to continue to pursue, so bottom line – things had to change. A relocation from the Vancouver area felt like a fresh start because the couple found the big city was lacking a personal touch.

Community: The Missing Ingredient

During my interview it became clear, time and again, just how much the Desert Divas couple value community. For example, since opening, first responders and military personnel receive 20% off all services. Anastaszia works closely with members of Kids Play Foundation to provide scholarships for youth in need, and she’s even networked with shelters and care centres across the BC interior to provide restorative services for people who may be bearing the scars of abuse.

And There is More Too!

As I was wrapping up this article, Anastaszia contacted me about another initiative she has taken on. In response to the growing reports of dangerous activity in BC, she wanted me to inform readers of a secret “menu item” when it comes to a “desert facial”.  Anastaszia prides her patrons somewhere safe and secure to wait if they’re concerned that they might be being followed or harassed.  Desert Divas staff will contact authorities if requested. 

It’s a lifestyle centered around bringing good to those around you – and I found it very inspiring on a personal level.

A Desert Diamond in the Valley

This commitment to community is inspiring! But how does the Medi-Spa itself stack up? Admittedly, I felt a little out of my depth here; as a rural twenty-something boy, writing about spa life. But where familiarity fails, research prevails, so I hit the web and studied as much as I could in advance of my interview. As far as my newly enriched understanding could tell, Desert Divas and Dons represents a world class experience!

Technology At Work

The technologies at work here are huge, international names; treatments like OxyGeneo and DermaStamp are available at a price point that Anastaszia says leaves enough savings for her coastal clientele to commute down and see her. The medi-spa itself is Health Canada certified, with a massive emphasis on safety, sanitization and professionalism.

A Passion Stemming from Personal Experience

Anastaszia has spent several years working in what is considered the beauty industry. However, there is significant stigma against the industry. One point in case, vanity can lead to body issues and negativity. Admittedly, I used to see things from that angle myself. Anastaszia however, relates the procedures she performs back to her own life and previous experiences with abuse. She sees opportunity for people to find a fresh start by healing wounds and erasing pain – both physically, and emotionally. In her own life, aesthetician work has helped her find confidence and start again.

Anastaszia also provided this picture of herself, on duty as a chaplain.

A Learning Experience

I came to the Merritt medi-spa feeling a bit out of my depth. Someone with my lifestyle, I had figured, is going to be a pretty unlikely client. But the experience I found here was surprisingly genuine, deeply sincere and honestly kind of moving. I wound up specifically appreciating the joie-de-vivre on display here at Desert Divas.  Anastaszia and Wes have lived a tremendous story together, and while pain has been a significant part of their story, they refuse to let it be a story of pain. It’s a huge distinction, and it’s one I don’t know if I understood before having this meeting. 

In Conclusion

Anastaszia got in touch with me a few more times after the initial visit to see if I needed any help with the article? Anastaszia, also let me know she has taken more steps  to becoming a community leader. For example, Anastaszia Cash EDU, an education program for aestheticians that she developed herself is off to a great start. Her work with Kids Play Foundation is developing more and more each day, and she continues to seek local youths to provide mentorship at her spa, offering the opportunity to get Merritt residents a foot in the door on a valuable career opportunity. 

Merritt Medi-Spa: My Takeaways

For my own part, I got to make two great new friends! Wes and Anastaszia are welcoming and open, and their commitment to community is inspiring. Stigma is often attached to smaller towns like the idea that if you’re not born here or raised here, you won’t be given the chance to belong. Anastaszia and Wes admitted that upon first opening their business, some people were hesitant, but with time Merrittonians have come to appreciate that it’s the real deal! 

I left personally inspired to be more positive in my day to day interactions, as well. We’re rarely given the opportunity to change the hand we are dealt, but we’re always in charge of whether we accept it with a smile or choose to let it beat us. Thanks for the chat, and the words of wisdom, Anastaszia and Wes!

CONTACT US:

2101 Quilchena Ave, Merritt, BC V1K 1R6

(250) 936-9200

info@desertdivasanddonsspa.com

Facebook / Instagram

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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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Tire Shop in Merritt – Nicola Valley BC Canada Mechanics

Fountain Tire Merritt – Tire Service in the Nicola Valley

Tire shop and mechanic service in the valley of Merritt

Fountain Tire is a preferred tire shop in Merritt BC Canada. This local mechanic automotive service station takes care of commercial and light car and truck automotive repair. And of course Tires, lots of tires. Fountain tire Ltd (Merritt) opened in Merritt in 2008 by Larry Ruttan.

tire shop in merritt

Fountain Tire New Owners

In 2021 Jamie and Sheila Hatch will become the new owner/operators of Fountain Tire (Merritt) in British Columbia Canada. Jaime moved to Merritt from Drayton Valley, Alberta in 2018. He worked as assistant manager. Soon after Sheila and the kids followed.

Jaime is a red seal journeyman mechanic and has been in the industry for over 23 years. However, when he is not at work, he enjoys fishing, hunting and spending time with family. Therefore they have settled nicely into the Nicola Valley, so much so, they are members of the Merritt Speedway. Subsequently, their daughter, Megan, is a race car driver.

Merritt Speedway Stock Car Racing is well know in the Nicola Valley for its sense of community and family for over 30 years. The speedway is looking forward to when we can race again.

Sheila says, “The advantages of operating a tire shop in Merritt are that you meet so many different people from many walks of life. This community has a sense of family, everyone looks out for each other.”

fountain tire

Sheila continues with, “And for us, because Merritt has several highways coming into it, we are able to assist those who need help when travelling through our beautiful valley. We have had the pleasure of helping out the travelling talent that come for various music festivals that run each year. Never a dull moment and Oh ..the weather!”

tire man in merritt

Brandon Hatch of Fountain Tire Merritt Photo Credit: Sheila Hatch

Meet the Owners

Sheila and Jamie Hatch, the owner of Fountain Tire Shop in Merritt, and their son Brandon, are like most of us, surviving Covid-19 by planning to get involved in community events. In other words they are really putting themselves out there expressing that we are all on this road together.

Fountain Tire Staff

Communities need to stick together to survive hard times. There is strength in numbers. At the tire station they have 7 staff in addition to 2 more red seal journeyman mechanics. 

Tires For All Seasons

Whether you need tires for the highway, bush, logging truck or racing they have a wide assortment of quality tires. Tires for a range of budgets that best suit their customers. Fountain Tire in the community of Merritt BC is known to go the extra mile for their customers. Most importantly get them back on the road safely and in a timely manner.

Who is Fountain Tire?

Fountain Tire Ltd. is a Canadian company, founded in Wainwright, Alberta by Bill Fountain. The first store opened in 1956. As a result they have stores from B.C. to Ontario.

Contact Information

website: www.fountaintire.com
facebook: merrittfountaintire
email: f132@fountaintire.com
Phone: 250-378-2442

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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!

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Art Show “Art for the Love of It”

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 Merritt, BC, Canada

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“Santa Claus” and Christmas in Merritt BC

A Nicola Valley Christmas with Santa from the North Pole

“Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through Merritt …”

Christmas in Merritt BC Canada is coming up and Santa Claus is busy looking over his naughty & nice list in preparation for the big night. It has truly proven to be a very difficult year for keeping off the Naughty List too. Therefore Santa is checking it twice to find out who has been naughty or nice. In doing so, Santa was very pleased with the children of the Nicola Valley, as well as, the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers in their efforts of bringing good cheer into the homes of Merrittonians throughout the year.  

Christmas in Merritt BC

Santa checking the Naughty and Nice List twice from Santa’s Village in the North Pole

Mrs. Claus started Christmas in Merritt BC 

Christmas in Merritt BC started with Mrs. Claus accompanied by some poking and prodding from the Elves. One night talking with Santa, Mrs Claus was sharing some of the things she was reading about in the letters from Nicola Valley children. Meanwhile, the snickering Elves nearby hanging the Reindeer stockings were encouraging Mrs. Claus to take a Nicola Valley vacation. So she looked it up on ExperienceMerritt.com to learn more. She was hooked. 

Mrs. Claus Pays It Forward 

Mrs. Claus wanted to get a positive feel for Christmas in Merritt BC Canada. So she visited  the “Walk of Stars”, the Downtown Shops and some of the children, who are now adults, operating small businesses in Merritt during Covid 19. On her list was Blacks’ Pharmacy, Miss Vicki’s Petal and Plants, Planet Hair and Spa, Community Futures Nicola Valley and the City of Merritt Mayor, Linda Brown. 

Christmas in Merritt BC Must Go On

The Elves, the reindeer, Santa and Mrs. Claus all realize first hand how the children miss meeting with Santa Claus due to Covid19. Because of the pandemic Santa could not do his annual rounds visiting all the children throughout the world. Santa decided, based on the feedback from Mrs. Claus’ visit to the Nicola Valley, that Christmas in Merritt BC must go on!

christmas in merritt

Santa and Mrs. Claus discussing Christmas in Merritt BC

Interview with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Santa and Mrs. Claus agreed to provide Experience Nicola Valley a 1/2 hour interview on our community talk show called Nicola Valley Talk. Lucky me! I, Tania Stewart, was the host of that episode on Nicola Valley Talk which had Santa and Mrs. Claus as a special guest! They shared so many things during our interview about Santa’s Village, the North Pole, the reindeer, the mischievous Elves and Xmas Eve. Watch the interview below. 

Letters from Nicola Valley Children

After much consideration Mrs. Claus and Santa, along with their 90 thousand elves, decided to grant the Nicola Valley Talk Show an additional episode so they could answer the letters from Nicola Valley children live online. In addition, they would invite a few children online to talk and chat with Santa on a video call live from the North Pole in Northern Canada. We received letters and some video submissions too, making for great stories and answers.

We all know that  Mrs.. Claus runs the show in the North Pole. Without her,  Santa would truly be lost. Of course Mrs. Claus did all her research on the ExperienceNicolaValley.com and ExperienceMerritt.com websites! Notably she searched Merritt BC  Things To Do on Google and the Experience Nicola Valley and Experience Merritt websites came up 3 times on the first page! 

“They must be the community experts Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers. And I was right!” Mrs. Claus.

Meanwhile back at the North Pole 

Then there are the Elves who are dedicated and work tirelessly to make sure Christmas is special. In our discussions, we met the two head Elves, Alex and Daniel.  These two had it all together. Therefore they were in charge of feeding the Reindeer, building toys, and assisting Mrs. Claus with the banking so to provide Santa with his cookies.  

christmas in merritt bc elves

The Head Elves, Alex and Daniel, helping out at the North Pole.

“In the light of  all the work that Santa’s Elves do throughout the year. They are just so jolly and full of spunk.” Melvina White

To point out these are the 5 most asked questions from children as well as adult’s to Santa Claus. 

  1.  -“Do you remember when Santa and you got me a XXXXX when I was 6?”
  2. – “Is Xmas cancelled because of COVID?”
  3. – “Can the reindeer really fly?”
  4. – “How does Santa get down the chimney?”
  5. – “Are there really such things as Elves?”

Santa in 2021

We sure do hope to have Santa back next year on the show to answer and chat live with Nicola Valley children. 

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