Anyone driving past the Art House (at the entrance to SAMS and Nusatsum Elementary) in Hagensborg over the next two weeks should see the first big signs of change coming to the Bella Coola arts scene.
At Coast Mountain News press time, work is well under way to plant a large, beautifully designed sign near Highway 20 in the field in front of the Art House – a sign of the times for the Valley arts community. Without revealing any details about the sign at this time, let’s just say its purpose is to attract attention to the Art House and to draw in tourists soon to be travelling by from the ferry terminal or heading there on their way out of the Valley. (The first Discovery Coast docking on the route from Port Hardy is scheduled Tuesday June 11.)
Inside the little building (a former teacher’s residence – occupied for a time by Sally and Dan Watts, a SAMS teacher and artist working in wood carving and graphite drawing), other changes are taking place. The large window that gave resident teachers a super view of Salloompt Peak and Goat Mountain has been reduced to one small pane, and shelving is beginning to appear along the walls.
The view outside is mostly gone, but inside, the wall space has been greatly increased to accommodate paintings and other “wall art”. Pedestals are moving in, and soon the Art House will contain a variety of pottery, classy jewelry, prints, cards, and other items by local artists who will be working (with other volunteers) to keep the doors open as much as possible during what promises to be a busy tourist season.
Plans are also under way for the Art House to offer light snacks and beverages – particularly for hikers on the School House Falls Trail that has its trailhead near SAMS and crosses a skunk cabbage bog on a newly-built boardwalk – among the most popular hiking trails in the Bella Coola Valley. (Thanks to Alex Boileau’s outdoor education class and others involved, including BC Hydro, Bella Coola Community Forest, and Bella Coola Valley Tourism for the boardwalk work and signage under way at press time.)
Kudos also go to everyone who came out in the soft April rain to the “U-Fire Raku” event at the Art House. Because you were there, this first-ever event raised a sizeable amount of money to support the Council’s effort to transform the Art House operations.
As the Art House develops into a “Gallery Shop”, it will continue to hold special events, the first being the “Children’s Art Show” the weekend of May 24, 25, and 26. This is a great chance for budding artists to showcase their work as they begin to explore the mind-expanding experience of the creative process. From events such as this, young creators get their first thrill of a lifetime engagement with their inner creative geniuses.
Also in the works is the 2013 annual Visual Art Show, opening Saturday June 22 and running longer than the traditional weekend. Although the end-date is yet to be determined, this show of local painting, photography, pottery, sculpture, and glasswork should not be missed by anyone in the Valley who enjoys the wonder of art.
In addition to these special events, the Arts Council has been invited to participate in the Music Festival July 19 – 21. So far, a blacksmith and potter have agreed to demonstrate their crafts at the Lobelco Fair Grounds that weekend, and other artists and crafts people are being recruited to come on board.
Finally, whether or not you are an Arts Council member, this is an open invitation to all Valley residents to come out to the Council’s Annual General Meeting – at the Art House 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18.