A few months ago, I was approached by Dave Gordon with a request to work on a project he had just started. The project was Skeena Salmon Art Fest – an initiative aimed at beautifying Terrace, BC with public art and celebrating salmon as significant culturally, as a food source, and as a tourist draw to the area. The festival would fundraise and organize murals on buildings in the area, as well as public art installations themed around our reliance on salmon as a resource. The project would also put on an art show – Skeena Salmon Art Show – to be exhibited at the Terrace Art Gallery through the month of August 2018. This was the project Dave had requested my help with.
I moved to Vancouver 3 years ago for several very good reasons – working in the art world being one. But my intention was always to bring something back to the North. The North – Hazelton specifically – had been my home for 38 years, and that would never change, no matter where I went in the world. I was overjoyed to be working on a Northern art project with such a great message. Of course I said yes.
3 months, and hundreds of emails later, I was in Terrace to help install the show at the Terrace Art Gallery 2 days before the opening. The team of installers – including artists (particularly Marie-Christine Claveau), volunteers and Gallery Coordinator Laura MacGregor – was a pleasure to work with. The show came together in typical small-town, collaborative fashion, and by the end of the day on Thursday we were well ahead of schedule.
By Friday evening the opening was in full swing, the gallery packed to the brim – whether for the beer (by Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse), the coffee (by White Goat Coffee) or the art, was yet to be seen. But I ran into more and more artists and attendees (old friends and new acquaintances), and I heard the same thing over and over: “The art is amazing!”, “I am so impressed!”.
As the evening wound down, I felt relief as my skin started to dry off from the sauna-like experience at the height of the crowd. I started to notice the little red “sold” dots on the art, as I stepped away from the dozens of conversations over the course of the evening. “Success” was the word that ran through my head. The next thing that occurred to me was that I had just participated my first major art project back in the North. At 3 years, perhaps my run is a little longer than the annual return of the salmon, but I had still returned. There really is no place like home.
Winners of the juried show:
Leah Pipe, Heart of the Headwaters – Award of Excellence
Chris Gee, Delicate Beginnings – Juror’s Choice
Arlene Ness, Skeena Salmon – Juror’s Choice
Michelle Stoney, Gift of Life – Juror’s Choice
Rob Brown, Summer Love – Honourable Mention
Ann Kantakis, Canned Salmon – Honourable Mention
Dyan Myhr, Resolve – Honourable Mention