Mother Nature lends a hand to Canada 150 legacy project

Art exhibit on permanent display outside Pynelogs Art Gallery

When the Pynelogs Cultural Centre and Art Gallery was given a grant from The Columbia Valley Arts Council (CVAC) to undertake a Canada Day 150 project, they went for it with full gusto, commissioning Black Star Studios to do a special piece in honour of the occasion.

Jen Abra, Casja Fredin and Natalie Ruby tackled the project head-on while designing a concept that would tie into their annual Kid’s Creative Corner at the Mountain Mosaic Canada Day Party at Kinsmen Beach. Grant money in hand, the sky was the limit for the trio, as they decided on a mural. With dimensions reaching 12 feet long and 3 feet high, there was plenty of room to allow for the participation of 200 kids.

“They provided the outline of mountains, a tree, sun, and sky in a sort of blocked and layered effect that allowed each child to have an area to add their creative flair. With gorgeous weather, the sun shining and the music playing, the Kids Creative Corner was busy all day. The girls welcomed a constant stream of children donning aprons and grabbing paint brushes, making the piece more unique and beautiful with each stroke. Black Star also encouraged each child to sign their name on a wooden maple leaf that would then be attached once all the paint was dry.

“Well, Mother Nature had another idea that evening and “dry” didn’t seem to be part of the plan. When an evening storm appeared out of nowhere, the girls all quickly ran down to Pynelogs where the mural had been fastened to a fence and left to dry, only to find the piece was drenched and the paint dripping. Understandably, they were heart broken,” said Leigh Abra (Jen’s sister), in an excerpt from “Go ahead. Rain on our Parade,” an article that was written to accompany the mural and to acknowledge the accidental, and celebrated unplanned finish to the project.

For a moment all seemed lost for Ms. Abra, Ms. Fredin and Ms. Ruby as their original concept was dashed by the sudden downpour.

But, there was a silver lining to this particular rain cloud, as the womens’ horror turned to fascination and they beheld an even more beautiful piece than they had originally intended.

Colours and patterns were blended in a way that was representative of the interwoven nature of Canada and the celebration of its rich and diverse cultural heritage as well as reflecting the close-knit community that makes the Valley unique.

“I see a blending of colours, which is what our country is, and I like that it fit really well with the Canada 150 project,” said Jami Scheffer, CVAC executive director.

Art is more than the finished product according to the girls at Black Star. It’s the elements that go into the making of the finished product that make a piece special.

“We came and saw it and the paint had blended in and we were pretty devastated at first but it’s really actually beautiful and it’s kind of tie-dyed,” said Ms. Abra. “Art is the process of getting there including all of the kids that helped us paint — that’s part of the process and then Mother Nature took over.”

The beauty of art is that there are no mistakes in the creative process according to Ms. Ruby.

“There is no wrong way of doing things, sometimes what we think is a stumble, takes us in a whole new direction that we wouldn’t have gone if everything had happened exactly as planned,” she said.

Moments of genius often coincide with accidents and an unanticipated rainfall enhanced a legacy piece that will forever remind the Valley that art is fluid and changing throughout its many stages, much like life.

“Art is about the process not always about the final piece. The community worked together and then Mother Nature decided to lend a hand to create a completely natural and unique work of art,” said Ms. Fredin.

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