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Merritt And Nicola Valley Art Shows

A review of a summer of Art and Culture Shows in what has been a great display of community artistic talents

“Get-in-the-mood for fall art!”

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

Artist Cassandra Dolen

Nicola Valley Art Shows in Merritt BC attract locals and visitors to the region! The Courthouse Art Gallery puts on a new show almost every month. We often choose themes for our shows that compliment what is happening in our community. Our locals enjoy the mirroring of our themes. This strategy helps visitors get to know our local interests and history.

More Nicola Valley Art Shows

Merritt Arts and Culture, and lots of it, has been happening in the Nicola Valley since I last wrote a Gallery blog! In February, we had a fun community show called The Art of Sound. We really enjoyed drumming with Raven Ritcey at our Open Mic night at Kekuli Cafe. And experiencing Singing Bowls with Gale Simpson, right in the Gallery.

In addition to that, in March, we honoured four long time artists in our Nicola Valley. One of our young artists, when he heard who was coming, gave the show its title….

Living Legend Contribute To Nicola Valley Art Shows

Living Legends

Pius Chong Sculpture

Evelyn Armstrong, Pius Chong, Doug Strand and Jackie Stibbards have been contributing to the art and culture scene in the valley for decades. Moreover, all of them are still creating art in their own way. The community had an opportunity to catch up with these artists at an Artists Talk at the Courthouse Art Gallery.

Personal History Of Art In Merritt

As a result we heard stories about their artistic beginnings, their journeys in the art world, and then the inspirations for the work they are each doing now.  Firstly, Pius Chong created a wood sculpture with bright blocks of colour. Secondly, Doug Strand brought human figure sketches.  Evelyn Armstrong displayed a series of photos of water in different states with ecological commentary. And lastly Jackie Stibbards exhibited a variety of work, from photos, to mixed media scrapbooks.

For April, we switched it up, bringing in one of the valley’s younger artists, Michelle Lonsdale…

Wondernatural

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

Artist Michelle Lonsdale

Michelle Lonsdale has taken part is several of our Nicola Valley Art Shows at the Courthouse Gallery!

She brought a touch of whimsy to the Art Gallery. For example Michelle offered up thoughtful twists in much of her work, like her black buggy in a meadow. Moreover Michelle was on hand when her past art teacher, Shannon Dunn, brought a high school class to see her exhibition.

We also had an Artist Talk with Michelle and really enjoyed her discussions about art, and her process.

From this young artist, we segued to even younger aspiring students from our local high school, participating in the School District 58 Arts Festival….

Create-Communicate-Connect

Nicola Valley Arts gallery

Artist Taiki Yamaguchi

School District 58 once again held their Arts Festival mid spring. They brought the artistic expression of our youth in the public schools to our community. Performance art, music, and visual art made their way into our Civic Centre, the Kekuli Cafe Open Mic, the Secret Door Gallery and to the Courthouse Arts Gallery.

The Merritt Senior Secondary School art students had the opportunity to display their varied work at our Nicola Valley Arts Gallery in the old courthouse. The theme Create-Communicate-Connect showed up in the drawings, paintings, and 3D art for the short show.

Certainly a lot of work by the students and teachers, a lot of reward for the community!

Following the exhibition showcasing our young local talent was an inspiring show by an artist who has made her way in the art world her whole life! And her art style is perfect for our Nicola Valley….

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

Faye Gustafson Art

Forever West

Artist Faye Gustafson moved to our Merritt BC Canada community, with husband Ian Brooker, after several years of  participating in our local arts programs, like past Art Walks. Faye’s work in sketches and oils is made for our western community!

“The cowboy way of life has always appealed to my soul” says Gustafson.

“I love the endless stories of the people who lived way back when, and the excitement the modern cowgirls and cowboys still enjoy!”

Consequently Gustafson has exhibited her work in Canada and United States, Japan and Australia. Additionally she holds several awards for her artwork. We were very happy to exhibit her work in a single-artist show in our Gallery.

After that, the Nicola Valley Arts Gallery pulled together a show with other community groups to remember a heritage building in the valley….

Murray Church In The Nicola Valley

Murray Church

Murray Church Show Poster, by Kim LeClair

A well attended show by the Nicola Valley Community! This exhibition of art and artifacts honoured the place the historic Murray Church played in our valley. When the Murray Church was destroyed in a fire so many people felt the loss. The loss elicited so many memories. As a  result this show elicited stories going back decades, from far and wide.

We appreciated the artists and photographers who came forward with newly created depictions of the church. The past paintings drawings, and photographs touched many people. We especially loved the inspired presence of the original organ from Morva Murray.

Also we were very grateful for the participation of the Trinity United Church members, like Linda Baird, who contributed story boards, artifacts, art and memories. In short, a big kudos goes out to Amrit Samra for his dedicated work with us, and over the past years with the Murray Church.

After sharing memories of a much-missed historical building, we spun off a fun art activity in town. We put on a show creatively reusing items and making them better, more useful, and more beautiful than they were before….

Nicola valley Arts Gallery

Jano Howarth Photo, Kim Leclair Poster

Upcycle

During the summer, artist Shirley Reynolds organized an art event for the whole business community, the Chair Walk. Fifteen local artists were invited to upcycle a chair each. They were matched with downtown businesses, and displayed over the month of July. The chairs were put on auction to fundraise for the Downtown Theatre project and the Nicola Valley Arts Council. They were great! Very creative! Shirley’s chair project was a great success.

We invited the artists to bring their chairs to the Arts Gallery for our August show. And a call-out brought a wide variety of upcycled items from other artists and artisans. From paint sprayed garden pots to a 1st Nations art decorated corner shelf by artist Leonard George. Also there were blinged lamps and Cindy Trent’s golf club coat hooks. The locals outdid themselves! As a result of the displays, some visitors to the gallery were motivated to get into upcycling themselves!

Next, inspired by both the Fall Fair at the beginning of September, and the “Mayor’s Gala of the Arts” at the end, the Gallery’s September show combined the themes….

Swing Into Fall

Robert Moretti Art

Get-in-the-mood for fall art! On display at the Courthouse Gallery were many of the Photography winners of our celebrated Fall Fair. The photos were displayed on free standing dividers flanking fall paintings by local artists Robert Moretti. All the paintings nearby were depictions of fall themes and colours. Art by beloved local artist Bev Veale, young Wyatt Collins, and almost new-to-town Dave and Sue Barber.

And to enhance the swing dancing event coming, we created a 40’s themed boudoir with swing dance art on the wall and big band music playing. In short, thanks to all our contributors like Diane Wandler and Barb Sayles, and artists Judy Young and Jen Artibise! Fun!

And for the Arts and Culture scene in the Nicola Valley….

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

Pop Up Art Gallery

End of September 2019… Swing Dance in Merritt BC!

Nicola Valley Community Arts Council and its community partner put on a fabulous “Mayor’s Gala of the Arts”! It took a year of planning to pull it off, with NVCAC Execs, Jane Bartle and Mischelle Pierce leading lots of volunteers. Consequently, over 200 people enjoyed the lively music of an 18 piece swing band. There was dancing, socializing, beverages and beef.

A highlight of the evening for me was the pop up Art Gallery at the Gala event. While I looked after the show at our Courthouse Arts Gallery, the President of the NVCAC Jean Kiegerl, and artist extraordinaire, Cassandra Dolen, put together a beautiful display of art by several of our local artists.

As a result of the Gala’s fun and success, there have been lots of requests for a repeat next year!

Lots of Nicola Valley Art Shows at the Old Courthouse on Nicola Avenue!

On the other hand we haven’t even talked about Art in the Park and the community art installations. Or Open Mic night, and other programs we have run at the Gallery and other community venues over the past months!

As a result I am happy to play catch up a little, here on our fab Experience Nicola Valley blogging website!

So I am very happy to have directed and curated these Nicola Valley Arts Gallery shows…fun, interesting, informative, and inspiring! And so many artists, photographers, artisans, and talented community members!

Therefore, I am looking forward to my next blog! Already in the middle of a new show, “Fractured Reflections”, with fine woodworking and mirrors by Fred Tomlin. A must see! Show dates Oct 11 to Nov 9, hours Thursday to Saturday, 12-6pm.

Join the NVCAC Arts Council! Annual General Meeting, Wednesday 7pm, Oct 23rd, at the old Courthouse.

Contact nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com

Jano Howarth

Arts Gallery Director and community supporter!

Art and Culture Things To Do:

Firstly,  visit our Website Nicola Valley Arts Council

Secondly, like our Facebook Page Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

Lastly, check out the Creative Community

 

Nicola Valley Arts Gallery

Joel Reid, Artist and NVAG Show Set Up

Merritt and Nicola Valley Art Shows

Nicola Valley Art Gallery and Culture Shows is what has been happening in and around Merritt BC Canada

 

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Aaron Pritchett Country Music Artist – Merritt Murals

Downtown Merritt Mural Walking Tour

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

Merritt BC Murals features country music artist Aaron Pritchett 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.

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

Working The Road

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.

Aaron Pritchett Big Break

In 2001 everything changed for Aaron.  In short he enter 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. After that 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.

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. 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.”

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”.

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.

Record Label Signing

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 favourite 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. 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.”

Merritt Mural Walking Tour

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were 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. 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.

Make the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame your starting point for your visit to Merritt, British Columbia, Canada, as well as, visit our downtown coffee shops, restaurants and local shops for a unique shopping experience.

In addition 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.

Downtown Merritt Mural Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

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Experience Nicola Valley

Travel Website

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Community Futures Engagement Fair 2019, a real success!

 

“It was a lively, colorful, noisy-with-talk event…”

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Conayt Friendship Society

Merritt BC Non-Profits are like non-profits everywhere…contributing to the vitality of their community! These essential groups provide the good works and the enjoyment that cities, towns, and villages need and want. As my partner always said in his coffee paper, the Merritt Morning Mirror, “Have some fun, do some good!”.

Last weekend, Community Futures Nicola Valley put on a great event showcasing the Merritt BC Non-Profits. The Nicola Valley has a lot of non-profit groups and the Civic Center was full of tables, volunteers, posters, pamphlets and sign up sheets….

Non Profits depend on volunteers….

Non-Profits depend on volunteers, the heart-blood of any organization. And that March Saturday was a congregation of well-doing individuals, committed to providing good works, and fun to young and old. General organizations and specific, from the Chamber of Commerce, to the Curling Club, to the Old Time Fiddlers, were represented at this successful event by dedicated volunteers.

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Merritt Dance Society

What Merritt BC Non-Profit group do you belong to?

Almost everyone I know belongs to one, or more, of the Merritt BC Non-Profits. So the Civic Center was full of friends and colleagues, all dispensing info and enticing passers-by to be a part of their organization.

I did my part at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council tables, helping with set up. And I did my best to stay put at the table and tell people what we are up to and wave membership forms at potential participants. And as I wandered myself, I gathered info and stories from the reps at the tables.

There were groups there I had heard of, but hadn’t chatted with. And groups I have participated with since I moved to town with my just-starting family in 1979!

I know a lot of these groups…

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Merritt Centennials Hockey

So I found that I know a lot of these groups, and the volunteers who run them and their events.

I attend Community Futures events. I am a Patreon for the Love to Dance Academy and their organization the Merritt Dance Society. The Old Time Fiddlers’ get-togethers at the Seniors Center get my support with announcements and posters. I encourage friends to spectate and cheer for the Centennials Hockey Team. I participate in Chamber of Commerce Friday Night Markets, send interested beginning entrepreneurs to CFNV, give kudos and items to the local Nicola Health Care Auxiliary.  Groups like the Search and Rescue, Scw’exmx Family Services, Nicola Valley Food bank, and the Citizens Patrol do so much good in the community!

I bought my membership for the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society there, one of my favorite non-profits in the community. I have loved volunteering at and supporting the Country Music Hall of Fame over the years.

While I was wandering, taking photos for my personal no-profit endeavor, Creative Community, I was impressed with the time and energy all the groups took with their displays. Several groups even had technology set up…TV’s displaying videos and slide presentations, like the beautiful, so-local, and very-worthwhile Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association.

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association

Bricks for Sale…

Let’s stop for a moment here and let you know, if you don’t already – the Nicola Valley Fall Fair Association is fundraising for an Infrastructure and Washroom Facility. This is a much-needed essential for this organization, and for the whole town! I would like to encourage all of us to get behind this fundraiser, and look after the basic needs of all the visitors, local and not, attending one of the oldest and most beloved events in our community, and in so many rural communities.

(A bracketed appeal…

A while back I attended a Chamber of Commerce Grant Writing Workshop, and really enjoyed being in the room with other groups detailing their needs in a grant writing session. From requests for bathroom facilities to setting up programs for kids with special needs, to support for young musicians and artists I was impressed with the dedication of these volunteers to our community well-being.

That workshop and this Community Futures Community Engagement Fair offered insight into the complex and worthwhile projects our community is willing to dedicate their time to and are willing to work on.

But let me say that groups in our community that are working to provide basic necessities like a place to pee, is needed as much as, OR MORE THAN (or at least BEFORE) the enhanced events and activities we are all working on. We can’t invite people to our events without providing the basics. So, if you hear of a group asking for bathroom facilities, perk up your ears and reach for your wallet.

Thank you. This has been a public service announcement…or a-pee-l.)

For this Fall Fair Association worthy fundraiser… buy a brick for $10! Call 250-378-7270

 

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Networking at the Community Engagement Fair

Merritt BC Non-Profits Opportunity to Network!

It was a lively, colorful, noisy-with-talk event, and afterward the feedback about it was…great! A GREAT opportunity, not just to inform and invite the general public to participate in the non-profits, but to network and exchange possibilities with like-minded groups populating the room at the Civic Center.

After cruising the room, taking photos, enjoying the chats, listening to the music by the Community Choir, the Old Time Fiddlers, the Strings Plus, and watching the dancers from Love to Dance, I settled in at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council table, the non-profit where I spend most of my volunteer hours.

NVCAC’s Nicola Valley Talent Network project…more info coming!

We talked to lots of people about our Nicola Valley Talent Network project. So exciting! Got a talent? Are you an artist? A musician? A performing artist? Into theater? Or aspiring…? Get in touch with us at nvcac.talent@gmail.com

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

By the way, at the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council’s home, at the old Courthouse, 1840 Nicola Avenue we have basic facilities. Come and visit us there! We are busy reaching out to the community for interaction, memberships from individuals, groups, and businesses at the Courthouse, and also at events like the Community Futures Community Engagement Fair.

  • Visit us at the Courthouse Arts Gallery! Thursday to Saturday 12-6pm
  • Want to put on an art show? (Booking almost a year ahead!) Email nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com
  • Got an arts program you want to develop? Email nicolavalleyartscouncil@gmail.com
  • Want to know more about the local Arts Council? Visit our website!
  • Want to Plan and Relax with creativity? Tuesday mornings with me (Jano) at the old Courthouse. Call 250-315-3437
  • Visit my Creative Community facebook page.

Have a creative, satisfying day!

Your Arts and Culture…and Non-Profits fan Blogger, Jano Howarth

Let’s get out there and…. Have Some Fun, Do Some Good!

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Jen from Creature Comforts and Mischelle for Nordic Ski Club, networking

Merritt BC Non-Profits

Nicola Valley Search and Rescue

Community Futures Nicola Valley