Community projects…

ParkDesign

Pocket park, anyone? In 2015 the Village of Kaslo’s website featured a short survey re: what people would like to see happen to the vacant lot beside the Kaslo Village Hall, former site of the village’s firehall. The majority of those replying chose a public garden/park. Following a call for submissions, the Village chose one landscape design but to date has not found the funds to finalize the design/adjustments/alterations/infrastructure needed to most effectively carry out this project. This doesn’t mean the Village doesn’t want to do it; there just aren’t more than 24 hours in a day and they have a long list of things they are working on…. But the initial plan is in place and Kaslo’s Public Art Committee will have a hand in encouraging the public to take part in the process and decision making at certain points in the creation of the “pocket park”.

Definition (Wikipedia):  A pocket park (also known as a parkette, mini-park, vest-pocket park or vesty park) is a small park accessible to the general public. Pocket parks are frequently created on a single vacant building lot or on small, irregular pieces of land.

Along with accessibility, there is potential to create the elements of this type of park as unique to Kaslo as possible…which can of course, encompass a whole range of ideas.

Here are some ideas that have been collected, given the location  and size of the space and in consideration of the “character” of the Village of Kaslo:

  • Perhaps a brick or flagstone pathway with the family names of those living  (past and present) in Kaslo stamped in the bricks which could form the paths in and around this space. These types of materials also offer an easy surface for walking on or pushing a stroller or wheel chair.
  • Building material?  Brick walls, ironwork or…maybe river stone from the Kaslo river to create a defined area around the park.
  • Should there be water in some form in the park? that might depend on the capacity of the Village water system…(if something like a fountain is considered) or not.
  • Could the benches be made out of locally harvested wood ? ..one of the Village’s policies is to whenever possible, use locally sourced wood for Village “furniture” (ie benches), etc, so perhaps that would work well with the design.
  • Could we hire local sculptors to design several lamps (run on solar energy?) to be included for lighting the area at night?.
  • Could there be a life sized miner’s cabin in the centre of the park for kids to explore in? We have a history of mining in the area. Perhaps the Kootenay Lake Historical Society would like to be a partner in research of the historical side (which is huge!) of features included in the park.
  • Put in a “Speakers corner” at one end, perhaps enlarged  enough to serve also as a performance space or platform for musicians – music being such a large and positive feature of the Village….

These are just a few random ideas to get collective creative juices going and to encourage use of local resources and local knowledge and local talent to help make it “the right place” for Kaslo. Stay tuned for further developments as the plan continues to develop.

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The value(s) of public art…

Some pieces of public art go unnoticed except by a few sharp-eyed people who are looking for what is different or unique about a place. The value of a public art installation, whether it is stationary or mobile, permanent or short-lived, historically significant or of-the- moment, reflects the character of a place and is hard to quantify in terms of economic value. Culturally or socially it may hold much greater value than a dollar sign would imply. These things help to tie a community together and foster a sense of identity.

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Labyrinth, St. Mark’s Anglican Church, 601 5th Street, Kaslo, BC. Photo by Deb Borsos.

One way public art can create value is when an audience watches or even participates in it being made. This has happened each May since 2014 at Kaslo’s MayDays Logger Sports arena, where celebrity chainsaw carver Ryan Cook has worked/performed with enthusiastic audiences. His first work, in 2014, was Kaslo’s Protectors, a pair of ospreys perched atop a pedestal with a tree spirit carved in the post, appropriate to our area and now located downtown, on Water Street, on the edge of Kootenay Lake. In addition to entertaining and educating audiences while being carved, Kaslo’s Protectors now enriches visitors’ visual experience as they explore the village. Cook’s work gains value from being donated to the village by LoggerSports, associated with Kaslo’s tradition of forestry: not the first sector you think of when public art is considered, but a significant part of what makes up the culture of Kaslo and area.

Does public art always have to be serious? Heck no. Sometimes, what becomes endearing and enduring about a piece of artwork, what makes it part of the community, is unexpected additions…

The ospreys of  Kaslo’s Protectors have shown an astounding ability to  keep track of holidays and special events! They have appeared dressed up for Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, May Days, and most recently, on Labour Day in acknowledgement of workers around the globe and specifically Kaslo’s Village Crew.

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Kaslo’s Protectors (Ospreys and Tree Spirit), Water Street, Kaslo, BC. The fine porint at the top of the sign says, “Ospreys & Tree Spirit wish Kaslo’s Public Works Crew a Happy Labour Day.”  Photo copyright E. Fry.

Mostly, public art is found in larger centres with bigger populations and a larger tax base to support such things.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be found elsewhere and help to support smaller centres as well as adding to the character of a small town. Revelstoke, BC,  just a few hours up the winding road from Kaslo, features a magnificent sculpture of a grizzly bear mother and cub at the entrance to the town. Since its installation, hundreds upon hundreds of visitors to Revelstoke have stopped to have their photos taken beside it, and by so doing have created lasting memories for people far beyond those of Revelstoke. It is one more feature the town has to offer its visitors to stay, explore, and perhaps return in future.

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Bears, Revelstoke, BC. Photo courtesy of http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMBQHC_Female_Grizzly_and_Cub_Revelstoke_British_Columbia

 

Kaslo’s Maypole Mural

One of Kaslo’s most striking and beloved artworks is the Maypole Mural, on the west wall of Kaslo Community Pharmacy on 4th Street. We are very fortunate that three of the mural’s creators have just supplied us with a treasure trove of information and photos re. how the mural came about.

The year was 2003. Ursula Ringwald, then on the board of the Kaslo Area Youth Centre (KAYC), learned of a Columbia Basin Trust grant aimed at encouraging young and elderly people to work together using art as a bridge. Ursula’s daughter, Miriam, writes: “That was the key piece to this whole thing…  We, the youth, got together and interviewed a selection of seniors in Kaslo, asking them stories about growing up in Kaslo, etc. That is how the idea of the maypole came to be the main focus of the mural as many of them had danced in the May Days celebration themselves.  We took the stories and with them my brother Arin put together the design.”  (Note: for more on the importance of maypoles in Kaslo’s history, watch for our blog of September 21, 2016 on this site.)

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Some of the crew before beginning work. left to right: Tyler Toews, Steven Skolka, Carolyn Wood, Miriam (Mim) Ringwald (now Mills), Ursula Ringwald and Arin Ringwald.  Photo courtesy Arin Ringwald.

Arin Ringwald, who had already decided to pursue a career in the arts, adds: “After securing $10,000 funding, we used a large portion of the money to hire two budding professional muralists to lead the way and get some mentoring out of it: Steven Skolka and Tyler Toews, who still operate Canadian Murals (www.canadianmurals.com). I created the design and rounded up a few volunteers for the production part of the work: my mom Ursula, my sister Miriam, her friend Carolyn Wood, and a Daniel Vetrov.”

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Left to right: Steven Skolka, Tyler Toews, unknown child, Arin Ringwald (front), Carolyn Wood (back), Ursula Ringwald (below). Photo courtesy Arin Ringwald.

Ursula adds other names to the list of painters: Phyllis Margolin (now passed away), Alexandra Dunnett, and Dana Bennett. (If you know of anyone else, readers, please let us know.)

Miriam continues: “Once Arin, with Steven and Tyler, had put together the design, we let the artists do the detail work and the rest of us helped by painting by numbers, so we didn’t mess anything important up.”

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Left to right: Unknown (bending over), Tyler Toews (green shirt), Steven Skolka (no shirt), Miriam Ringwald (grey tank top), Arin Ringwald (white shirt). Photo courtesy Arin Ringwald

Arin Ringwald has since gone on to become a professional designer, and you can find his work at www.aringwald.com.  We’ll let him conclude our story: “Everyone involved or around during the creation of that mural seems to continually be amazed it never got vandalized. That it made it this long is I think beyond anything I expected…  Over the years I’ve had a lot of positive comments about how it brightened up and added to that little corner of Kaslo. Personally I’ve always been slightly ashamed of it because I’m just hard on myself as an artist and there’s a ton of things in it that are quite rough in regards to how I’d like them to have come out. And so in a weird round-about way, it’s helped me to appreciate not being so hard on myself; when people mention it, they seem to genuinely appreciate it, and that lets me relax and accept that even though I don’t achieve the level of perfection I desire, I can still make a positive impact. It’s a good lesson that I use as a reminder to this day.”

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The finished mural, summer 2003. Photo courtesy Arin Ringwald.