By Steve Hubrecht
A local family has launched an exhibition highlighting three generations of artistic connection to the wild Columbia Valley landscape.
The show — titled More Mountain Moments with the Bavins — kicked off at Pynelogs last week and will run for another two weeks. It is the second annual show to feature work from local father-son duo Pat and Ryan Bavin as well as Pat’s late father Hal. This second show comes after the smash success of their first three generations show last year, Mountain Moments with the Bavins. The Bavins decided to do that first show last year, in 2021, because it was in 1921 that Hal Bavin first came to the Columbia Valley.
“It was the 100th anniversary of our family in the valley. A century. So we wanted to do a family show to mark the occasion,” Pat told the Pioneer. “It went so well. We were close to selling out, maybe 80 per cent sold out, but the really neat thing was that most of the buyers were local residents. Usually at our art shows, most of the buyers are second homeowners or visitors, but with the family show, I don’t know what it was, but we just had overwhelming support from year-round residents. And of course we had so much fun talking to local people at the show. So we’re doing it again.”
Most people around the Columbia Valley associate Pat and Ryan with their family business Bavin Glassworks, which is located up by the crossroads. Even though Pat has stepped back from glassblowing in recent years, Ryan is as busy with glass as ever, and there will be glass pieces at More Mountain Moments with the Bavins. Pat’s local landscape paintings, done in his eye-catching trademark acrylic collage style, are also well-known up and down the valley and these too are on display at the Pynelogs show, as are some of his plein air sketches. Mountain Moments with the Bavins also features landscape photography by Ryan, who is an accomplished professional photographer as well as a glassblower, and a number of black and white photos taken by Hal (Pat’s father and Ryan’s grandfather), who was one of the valley’s first professional photographers.
More Mountain Moments with the Bavins also includes porcelain jewelry and vessel work by ceramic artist Shawna Tegart and glasswork and printmaking by Tina Nowatschin.
Much of the work, no matter the medium and no matter which artist, is centred on the theme of the natural landscape and environs of the Columbia Valley. That’s no inspirational accident: just as each generation of the Bavin family seems drawn to artistic expression, so too is each generation drawn to the ridges, peaks and lakes here.
“I seem to always be painting Chisel Peak and Mount Nelson, those two iconic front country peaks, but really anything natural holds meaning for me. It’s an expression, but also a reflection, in some respects, of my dad’s work. It’s a family legacy in many ways, one that Ryan has taken up, in his own way, with his photos,” said Pat. “I also like to focus on some of the historical buildings in the Columbia Valley. You never know how much longer they’ll be around. Some of the ones I’ve painted in the past are already gone.”
Pat’s work Sinclair Sheep (which is featured on the cover of this week’s issue) was one he first did nearly two decades ago, but that he’s redone since. “It’s timely now, because of what’s happening with the Radium bighorns,” Pat told the Pioneer. “Each painting has it’s own story.”
Sometimes that story is family history. The image of Hal’s photo Lake Windermere is known to most of the Bavin family simply as John Under the Tree since it features Hal’s brother John.
Hal became a renowned local photographer in the 1950s and continued to snap a great many images right through the 1970s. Some 9,500 of Hal’s black and white slides and more than 4,500 of his colour transparencies are now housed in the Windermere Valley Museum.
“Some of them have been digitized, and with the digitalization, you’d think they were shot yesterday,” said Pat.
Ryan told the Pioneer his own love of photography stems in large part from his grandfather Hal.
“My grandparents lived right next door, so I spent a lot of time in my grandfather’s dark room, learning darkroom techniques. So photography is something I’ve been learning about for a long time. When I was 12 years old, I inherited all my grandfather’s photography equipment,” said Ryan.
Ryan added that when he views Hal’s old photos and then his, he sometimes finds himself reflecting on just how much change occurs in the natural world across generations. Other times, the changes in the natural world happen much more quickly. In his Buster Blues photo, for instance, which he shot eight year ago, Buster Lake is a completely different almost tropical-like blue colour.
“Now it’s returned to its original green-ish colour. I have no idea why it changed,” said Ryan. “Maybe a shift in the drainage that changed the copper sulphites in the water.”
The show started on Thursday, Mar. 30 and runs until Tuesday, Apr. 19. Pynelogs is open from Tuesdays to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pat and Ryan will be at Pynelogs each Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. while the show is on to talk about their work and the life that inspires it. Part of the proceeds from sale of Hal’s prints are being donated to the Windermere Valley Museum. There will be two door prizes for shinrin yoku (forest bathing) walks on Tuesday, Apr. 19. Pat is a certified forest bathing guide.