CHALLENGE HEATS UP  Radium mayor Dee Conklin (centre) works with Ryan Bavin (left), Leah Duperrault (right) and Pat Bavin (missing) on May 27th to design a vibrant vase, which will serve both as Dees entry into the CV Arts Celebrity Artist Challenge, as well as a heartfelt gift for an ill friend. Photo by Dan Walton

CHALLENGE HEATS UP Radium mayor Dee Conklin (centre) works with Ryan Bavin (left), Leah Duperrault (right) and Pat Bavin (missing) on May 27th to design a vibrant vase, which will serve both as Dees entry into the CV Arts Celebrity Artist Challenge, as well as a heartfelt gift for an ill friend. Photo by Dan Walton

By Dan Walton

Pioneer Staff

For the next round in the Celebrity Artist Challenge, Radium Hot Springs mayor Dee Conklin has teamed up with the glass blowers at Bavin Glassworks in Invermere.

Theres such a strong element of artism, Dee said. You can express so much through glass blowing.

In collaboration with glassblowers Ryan Bavin, Pat Bavin and Leah Duperrault, Dee created a handblown glass vase. Its a combination of magenta and cyan, and was named The Delphine after a close friend of hers.

Through a consultation at the glass studio, the team at Bavin meshed Dees creative ideas with the structures needed to blow a vase. Dee shared her story about Delphine, which inspired the shape and colour scheme that the Bavins helped her bring to life.

She was amazing, Leah said of the Radium mayor.

On the morning of Tuesday, May 27th, the four were in the workshop to make the Delphine into a reality. The rigorous process (routine for the team at Bavin) required the Bavins blazing-hot furnace, inside which a slab of molten glass was repeatedly heated, while the soon-to-be-vase was cut and belted into shape between visits to the furnace.

I was blown away by how it came together, said Dee.

The inspiration for her work of art formed shortly after learning that she would be able to keep it.

So I made sure it would be given away to somebody special, she said.

Dee has a friend named Delta from Liverpool, Nova Scotia whos living in poor health. Delta will be celebrating her 60th birthday this summer, and the glass work will serve as an ideal gift to the one whose story inspired the vases creative elements. Deltas sister, Jackie, works from the East Coast as Dees designer for her printing business, Palliser Printing. Dee invited Jackie to be part of the project, who then helped design the vase. Dee will be visiting the two in August to surprise Delta with the gift on her birthday.

We felt honoured that we were chosen by the mayor of Radium; and I dont think the other mediums stand a chance, said Ryan. She was really good for a first-timer she did a great job providing us with direction.

Ive known Ryan since I moved to the valley 11 years ago, said Dee. He was fairly young then its been a real joy to watch him become as talented as his father.

The Celebrity Artist Challenge is pitting the creativity of the mayors in the valley (the others being Gerry Taft in Invermere and Ute Juras in Canal Flats) against one another. Through teamwork with valley-based artists, all three have entered a piece of work into the contest, which awards the winning mayor with $500 to support the charity of their choice. The funding that will support a charitable organization was donated by Wende Brash. The winner will be announced at the Tour of the Arts on Sunday, August 3rd. Dee has selected ICAN (Invermere Companion Animal Network) as her charity. Similar to a municipal election, there are many different attributes for voters to consider: the quality and appeal of the finished products, the charitable recipient chosen by each mayor, or maybe the personality of your local or favourite mayor. But unlike municipal elections, the Celebrity Artist Challenge is more of a plutocracy, and voters can cast as many ballots as they can afford.