The Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk officially began this weekend as over 40 artists installed their art in 40 businesses throughout downtown Williams Lake.
This year the Tribune is catching up with many of these artists to help Art Walkers better understand the significance of art and give the artists their time to shine. Here are just a few of the many talented artists whose work now graces the lakecity.
Artists taking part in Art Walk often use it as a chance to get back into their art, as Ralph Heitmann has, whose work can be seen at Sandtronic Business Systems Ltd. Heitmann attended art school as a young man and spent time in Kamloops, the Okanagan and Victoria before eventually returning back to Williams Lake.
“I put my brushes down for a while and it has been about 15 years now. I’ve just decided to get back into it so I’ve been developing an adult colouring book with the characters that I have right now,” Heitmann said.
As a result, Hetimann has contributed pieces of his various characters which are a “cross between the Muppets meet Picasso.” He uses a lot of colour when bringing these characters to life and said he will spend upwards of 120 to 140 hours on just one of his paintings, in part because many of his works tend to be on large canvases, well over three feet by four feet.
Heitmann feels that Art Walk is good for the community as it gives people a chance to get out and see what others in the community are getting up to in the artistic world. As he wryly observed, it’s a good thing to do as there’s not much to do in this town.
For some, however, the paintbrushes were never truly put down as is the case with lakecity artist and school muralist Tiffany Jorgensen. A mother of three, Jorgensen has been making a name for herself in the community over the last year, taking on several mural commissions, winning the Williams Lake Stampede Poster Contest and taking part in various art shows throughout the community.
An acrylic artist by trade, Jorgensen contributed several paintings to End Of The Roll’s storefront that are huge five foot by three foot pieces based on the four elements. While the piece based on water may have already sold, earth, fire and air still are on sale along with prints of all the pieces.
“They all have a kind of mythological, but my own mythological (component). There’s a whimsical woman in each one, just little in these huge paintings but it’s really cool,” Jorgensen said.
For the fire piece she painted a woman walking through lava, while for water she depicts a woman about to be swallowed by a massive tidal wave. The one based on the earth shows a woman a part of, almost emerging, from the stone of mountains. Each one, Jorgensen said has elicited different responses from people so far with no two interpretations exactly alike.
Jorgensen loves Art Walk and sees it as an opportunity for the community to showcase the talent within the lakecity to everyone. In the past, she’s never had the time to do Art Walk but this year she said she was sure to make the time and is very excited to be taking part.
While their names may be similar, Tiffany Klassen is bringing a whole different flavour of artwork to the event than Jorgensen. Klassen has been a hobbyist artist for years but her passion to really start creating art was kindled in recent years as she began hiking and getting out into nature more.
“The more I saw how beautiful the world is, the more I wanted to paint it,” Klassen said. “I love working with acrylics and painting on objects. I’ll go on hikes and find a piece of driftwood, a rock, a skull, anything like that, and try to paint on that texture.”
As a result, the majority of her Art Walk contributions are found pieces of nature she’s used as a canvas including a bear skull, rocks, wood and antlers. You can see her unique artwork found fittingly at Lo’s Florist
“I think it’s so important for any level of painter to express themselves and jump in with confidence with both feet,” Klassen said.
A love for colour and painting is what attracts Holly Hildebrandt to art who has returned to her passion after taking time to raise her four children. She said that she will literally throw paint at a canvas sometimes, just to see how it looks.
Hildebrandt also works with acrylics and has contributed a variety of abstract pieces to TEDZ Barber Shop, though she’s also taken to expanding her artwork into more realism style pieces in recent days. She finds it rewarding and fun to try and learn different artistic techniques and styles that are outside of her comfort zone.
Her involvement in Art Walk this year came from her friendship with Downtown Williams Lake event co-ordinator Jasmine Alexander who, upon learning Hildebrandt could paint, encouraged her to take part.
“That really inspired me to keep painting, I really dove in a lot more because of that,” Hildebrant said.
Supporting the Art Walk, to her, is akin to supporting all art which provides a community with creativity, inspiration and hope.
Pottery is an old favourite of both the Art Walk and the greater community, as potter Abby Harrelson knows who works as a community gardener when not creating functional and decorative jewellery, plates and pots.
Much like the Cariboo Potters Guild founder Anna Roberts, Harrelson focuses on a more natural earthy style making use of red clay to create under-glazed painting and carving works. She tends to focus on incorporating natural elements such as forests, rivers, scenes from her garden and the like on vases, bowls and plates.
For Art Walk Harrelson has contributed artwork consisting of several plates with pine trees carved into them, earrings in the shape of floral patterns and a few plates with paintings of carrots, all on display at 3Gen Cabinetry + Construction.
“I’m fairly new to Williams Lake, I’ve only lived here for a year and a half, so for me, I’m getting to meet a lot of new artists and I think (Art Walk) is a cool way for others to meet other artists as well,” Harrelson said.
Donna Froese has always loved art, both watching other people create creative original works and making her own. Her style tends to be more grounded in realism, however, Donna said she likes abstract work as well and wishes to expand into more types of mediums in the future.
Donna is displaying a variety of her realism still lifes, including a piece of Vancouver’s Gastown by night, that are brought to life via acrylics, watercolours and pastel paints. You can catch her artwork at Walk Rite Shoes on Oliver Street.
Her involvement in Art Walk was born of a desire to help out Downtown Williams Lake coupled with the appeal of exposure and being able to encourage other artists to take part in future installments.
“I think it’s a really healthy way of doing a community event. I have a mother who is aging and it’s a really fun thing to go, for her and I, on a date every week to see how many places we can get to,” Donna said.
Donna is not the only member of the Froese family taking part in Art Walk, as her daughter Keziah Froese is also joining in with her work displayed at Bell Broom and Cauldron.
Keziah grew up with a strong art background thanks to her mother and specializes in music, which she is currently attending school for. She does visual arts on the side as a hobby, she said,
The art she has on display is varied and include paintings using acrylics and watercolours, a backpack she made and examples of her poetry.
“I kind of just took a piece of everything I’ve done and put it together and that’s just what I displayed,” Keziah said.
Keziah has watched Art Walk through the years and always loved it, but had always felt her art wasn’t good enough to be displayed.
However, working for Downtown Williams Lake as a summer student and taking an active part in organizing the event this year made her realize just how much Art Walk supports both the community and the artists.
She offered to fill a space where she was needed and sure enough there was a spot available to round out the final number to 40.
“I think (people) should come out (to Art Walk) because artists truly portray their heart and soul, or their passions, in their artwork and I think that’s something we should celebrate as a community and really support that,” Keziah said. “I think it’s also a really good way to get out of the norm of life and experience something new.”