The Downtown Williams Lake Business Improvement Area (BIA) wrapped up its 2013 Artwalk and Sale on an upbeat note last Saturday, Sept. 7.
My Wife’s Quartet provided some musical ambience in the Station House Gallery for the gala event celebrating the artists and merchants who participated in the month-long exhibit.
This was the seventh year that the BIA has hosted the affair showcasing the city’s downtown businesses and the region’s artists.
Willie Dye, in the guise of Arty the Artwalker, did the tireless legwork to make this year’s Artwalk a success. It was bigger and better this year, he says, estimating that close to 75 artists showcased their work in 56 locations around the city’s downtown.
“This year there were nine more locations for artists to display their work than last year, and 20 artists who had never been in Artwalk before,” Dye says. “There were more artists, more merchants, more diversity of art, and more communities represented than ever before.”
Artists from Bella Coola, Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Merritt, Kamloops, Horsefly and Williams Lake had their work in this year’s Artwalk.
Dye told the gala that the beauty of Artwalk is how it brings three diverse communities together: the business community, the artistic community, and the general public.
BIA president Sheila Mortensen told the gala that lots of people were really impressed with this year’s Artwalk.
Carl Johnson, owner of the Dollar Dollar Store on Second Avenue, said he has participated in Artwalk since Laurie Walters first brought the concept to Williams Lake in 1999.
“Artwalk is worth it to me as a business owner because it brings new customers into the store and it allows a greater appreciation of the region’s artists.”
He said getting to know artist Liz Derksen, who displayed her work in the Dollar Dollar store, was a treat. Johnson also gained a greater appreciation for other artists in the community such as fellow business owner, Geoff Bourdon, who displayed his jewellery creations in his family-owned Woodland Jewellers on Oliver Street.
Sheila Chometsky, owner of Bloom ‘n Gifts flower and gift store in the Hodgson Place Mall on Second Avenue, displayed the work of photographer Rosalee Maurice. She said Maurice’s western theme fit nicely into her store’s Cariboo motif.
“We sold a lot of Rosalee’s prints,” Chometsky said. “She’s a fabulous artist and her pictures fit right in. We had to keep asking her to bring in more of her work because we kept selling out.”
As a new business owner, Chometsky said Artwalk was ideal for letting customers know about her store. “Now people know where I am right before Christmas time.”
Artist Dwayne Davis has participated in Artwalk since it began. He said the chance to showcase his work has helped promote his career as an artist.
“Ever since I’ve been part of Artwalk I’ve had a lot of direct sales, and always pick up a lot of commissions.”
Besides being the inspiration behind most of the colourful murals gracing the walls of buildings around Williams Lake, Davis also specializes in portraits. This year he showed his work at Hub International Barton Insurance on Second Avenue.
Davis says the chance to mix with and meet the other artists from around the region at the wind-up gala at is always a treat for him.
“Being an artist in Williams Lake can be kind of lonely. It’s nice to have that time to get together with other artists and talk art.”
Now a fulltime artist, Davis says one of the special attributes of Artwalk is the opportunity it offers emerging artists wanting to show their work for the first time.
“Where else can first-time artists display their work? It’s very difficult. Any recognition helps an artist. It’s amazing how many artists are having their work shown for the first time in the Artwalk. It helps artists get over the intimidation of a show in a gallery.”
At the conclusion of the gala, Arty the Artwalker (Willie Dye) announced the winners of various categories and handed out prizes. Wendy Pare of Lac la Hache won the grand prize two-day golfing getaway to Sun Peaks.
The most popular artist decided by the artwalkers themselves was first-time participant, Dawn McAmmond. Her watercolours were displayed at BFF Fashions on Oliver Street.
Second most popular artist was Reva Schick with her display of dolls at J&E Gifts and Treasures on Oliver Street.
Jeanie Herron, who displayed her graphite, acrylic and photography work at the Sandman Inn, received the third highest number of favourite artist votes. Honourable mention went to Geoff Bourdon and Liz Twan.
The most popular merchant voted by participants was Eloquent Spa and Salon, followed by About Face & More, and Woodland Jewellers.
Dwayne Davis paid $325 as the highest bidder for the Ed Deak painting, Big Sky at Big Lake, donated by the artist as a fundraiser for the Station House Gallery. “I always wanted an Ed Deak painting,” Davis concluded.