As the school year approaches next week, there’s never been a better time to come out and support your local artists at the 2019 Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk.
From photography to pottery, acrylics to watercolours there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy browsing through at the 40 Art Walk locations. With over 40 artists to see, the Tribune is taking the time to feature each one.
Not all artists work with a canvas, some prefer the use of a camera like emerging portrait, landscape and documentary photographer Casey Bennett. Bennett works as a project assistant with the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin and works on the side as a freelance graphic design artist who has worked with several non-profits and businesses within the community.
Read More: Art Walk 2019 features artists old and new
For Bennett photography is an appealing medium because, much like a painter, if one takes their time one can slow down and orchestrate their shot to perfection, rather than snapping a quick pic. He also uses film for these photos, rather than DLSR, which has become standard throughout the photography world.
“I am an urban landscape/documentary photographer that prefers working with film and a 6×7 medium format camera. Rather than firing off in rapid sequences and hoping that one works, I take my time composing each shot. Film and developing are expensive, so it makes sense to bring the whole process to a crawl and make sure you nail it,” Bennett said. “It’s a great ice breaker, especially when I approach a complete stranger on the street and request a portrait. They’re usually blown away that someone is shooting with a camera that’s nearly 50 years old.”
Bennett took part in Art Walk this year at a request from the Downtown Williams Lake team, whom he said he’s been steadily working with over the last few years. His submissions this year may be few, numbering only, three but they are all strong pieces originally part of an ongoing series called Hub City.
“I love these photos, so I decided to give them a bit of exposure to an audience by displaying them at this year’s Art Walk,” Bennett explained.
Bennett thinks that events the get people out into the community and in the company of others is an incredibly important thing. Be they gathering to appreciate sports, art, music or live performance he feels it’s an incredibly vital part of a community’s growth.
Some take retirement as an opportunity to pursue what makes them passionate, as retired SD27 teacher Sandra Stokes has. Before becoming a teacher Stokes graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and holds a degree in art history from UBC.
Today Stokes is a member of the Cariboo Art Society and has recently been focusing on watercolour works of nature. A collection of eight of her works can be easily viewed through the storefront window of The Open Book.
“I love to paint nature, flowers, birds, fish, butterflies…anything that inspires me. I would call my paintings expressionist,” Stokes said. “I have been painting a lot so I decided to enter. I think the Art Walk generally contributes to a positive community.”
To Stokes, visual art and art, in general, enriches everyone’s life and is important to our sense of well being. While it may be subjective, it brings us out of our day-to- day grind and helps us reflect on life’s bigger picture.
In Art Walk this year there are many artists who make their home across the Cariboo, including Prince George resident Rick Mintz. Mintz serves as the chairperson of the Prince George Community for Kids which raises money for The BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Mintz primarily paints with acrylics, however, he does also dabble in watercolours and pencil sketches. He prefers acrylics, however, because he finds he has more fine control with a piece’s fine details when working with these paints.
“On one of our many trips through the Cariboo, we stopped and took pictures of old buildings along the highway,” Mintz said. “I then decided to paint 12 of them and make a calendar as a fundraiser for the B.C.C.H.”
Broken down these pieces include, seven acrylics, four watercolours and one pencil, all set up at Johnston Meier Insurance. Mintz figured that their Cariboo theme made the Art Walk the perfect place to both showcase and maybe even sell his works.
“Any time local artists get a chance to show off their work is good for the artist and the community,” Mintz said. “The money from any pictures sold will go to the hospital.”
Some artists don’t just paint but choose to involve themselves in many aspects of the artistic community, like acrylic painter Linda Bachman. Bachman is retired but has remained active in the Williams Lake arts community through serving as a director with the Cariboo Art Society, the Station House Gallery and other local opportunities like the Art Walk.
Landscapes in different seasons and the simple natural discoveries they offer capture Bachman’s imagination. She works to bring them to life with acrylics because of their forgiving nature to changes and loves working on larger canvasses or unusual objects.
For Art Walk 2019 there are eight pieces on canvas, along with Bachman’s recognizable self-portrait on display at the BFF Fashions. All of them incorporate a theme of trees with distant ranges of hills in the background, coloured with different intensities to simplicity.
Her participation in Art Walk was born of a desire to both support local businesses while getting noticed as a local artist throughout Williams Lake.
“I strongly believe that local artists, visual or performing, need to contribute to tourist attractions for the economical benefits and supporting their community,” Bachman said.
For some lakecity artists, returning to art comes after years of being unable to pursue it, as is the case with local sheet metal worker Keith Prestone. Recently returned to the area, Prestone has been making waves in the local art community with a variety of exhibits, including the excellent Birds of Prey.
“I mean, all my schoolbooks were filled with drawings and stuff, notes and drawings on all of them and (art’s) always been my first love, but I had to raise a family and support them. It’s hard to do that on an artist’s budget. I’ve raised my family so now I’m putting more of my extra time into art to fulfill that part of who I am as a person,” Prestone said, in an earlier Tribune interview.
A man of faith, Prestone attributes his artistic talents to God and said that art is a quintessential part of who he is. He prefers to work with acrylics, oil paints and experimental multimedia creations to bring his art to life, especially those of raptors and other birds of prey. A selection of some of his best can be viewed at Western Financial Group.
Some businesses, like Just Because Boutique, enjoy displaying the works of not one but two artists. Eleanor Friesen and Cary Burnett have teamed up to provide a whimsical and stylish selection of pieces for this trendy store.
Friesen was a long time Williams Lake resident and enjoyed creating porcelain paintings by applying a special kind of paint, used in pottery, to glazed ware and then kiln firing it. Friesen has taken part in Art Walk several times in the past.
Burnett, meanwhile, originally hails from Langley and is a member of the Cariboo Potters Guild active with the Station House Gallery. She’s always been an avid potter and even today seeks to expand her knowledge and experience within the craft.
Both women have provided very eye-catching and unique works that invoke, at times, a dreamlike ethereal beauty well worth checking out.
Ethereal beauty can often lead to psychedelic and abstract pieces, as is the case with the works currently on display at the Pink Peony Women’s Clothing store. All come from the mind of lakecity artist Vera Lehar, who describes herself as an amateur who does art as a hobby.
The works on display make trippy use of colours and winding lines inspired by Lehar’s own unique vision. She obtains the basis of these pieces through meditation while working on her art.
Lehar works in a variety of mediums including paint and chalk and uses various drawing methods. The proprietor of the business indicated that Lehar was interested in bringing in more pieces, meaning it could become an evolving gallery.
Another lakecity favourite and fixture of the art community is Jude Prevost, who has lived in Williams Lake since she was 10. Prevost began focusing her attention on the arts, specifically pottery after her children graduated from school. Shortly after, she joined the Cariboo Potters Guild and created her own studio, from which she now teaches the art form.
“(I specialize in) clay. Specifically a red, low fire clay with ground mica. It allows me to do sculptural as well as functional work,” Prevost said. “It also allows me to add more colour to my pieces, something I enjoy.”
A selection of Prevost’s works can be found at The Heeler on Second Avenue and consists of one sculpture, several functional mugs and plates scattered throughout the store scavenger hunt style. Prevost tries to gear her work towards collage ideas with a certain pop art feel to them, to give them a bold and colourful style.
“A big thank you to those who take the time to wander a bit. Successful community events are something everyone can be proud of,” Prevost said.
If you’re looking to pick up a beautiful landscape piece along with a new couch, Laketown Furnishings LTD. and Michael Bruce have got you covered. Bruce has been painting with acrylics since 2013 while living in Terrace B.C. This Kelowna native has recently chosen to relocate to Williams Lake for his retirement.
While here, Bruce hopes to expand and develop his techniques to better be able to capture the diversity of landscapes and animals of the Cariboo region. Bruce almost exclusively finds inspiration and subjects through hiking, snowshoeing or skiing in the backcountry of wherever he happens to be living.
In Adventure Games Inc. the colourful and striking works of Niki Cockwill can be found. Cockwill, originally from Kelowna, has dabbled in every art form she could from a young age — painting to beadwork, paper mache to 3D stained glass sculptures.
“At the age of ten, (I) was presented with a bead loom and (my) artist journey has not stopped since,” Cockwill writes.
Today Cockwill balances motherhood, adulting and art along with volunteer work, all while drinking copious amounts of coffee.
If you’re looking for a mix of abstract art and strong colours combined with a few bold design elements look no further than Cheri Maisonneuve at United Floors. Maisonneuve’s bold designs are pleasing to the eye and make effective use of the colour blue.
“I use my hands to translate my beautifully messy journey through life onto canvas,” Maisonneuve said. “I love to play with various mediums in my work from collage to ink to plaster.”
The quirky and imaginative world of Thompson Rivers University fine arts student Kelsey Blokland combines beautifully with the aesthetic of The Realm of Toys. Blokland’s cute creatures digitally added to photos of the real world are sure to delight any child who looks at them.
“I digitally alter photographic images with drawings and over-saturated colours to create an unique, eye-catching pieces of work that make you smile,” Blokland said. “I aim to trigger the viewers’ imagination and let them invent the stories that complete my creations.”
If you’re looking to go on a little trip, be it physical or mental, swing by All Ways Travel to take a peek at what Lindsay Neufeld has on display. Neufeld grew up in the Cariboo and has chosen to make Williams Lake her home for the last seven years.
“Over many years I have developed a recognizable, whimsical style and palette of rich, saturated colours found in our beautiful natural world. I enjoy the process of creating semi-surreal landscapes heavily influenced by experiences and places encountered throughout my life,” Neufeld said.