Did you know that studies have shown that the number one reason people will choose to visit and move to a community is the availability of arts and cultural amenities? Lake Country is continuing to become an interesting and engaging community with a rich assortment of public artworks.
“Adding public art to a community adds to its distinctiveness, its appeal, and its interest,” says Sharon McCoubrey, Chair of the Public Art Advisory Commission. “Citizens and visitors are drawn to communities that offer a range of artworks and a diversity of images, which lead to greater engagement. There is a sense of identify and of pride that comes when a community can distinguish itself.”
In celebration of Lake Country’s 20th anniversary as a municipality, the Public Art Advisory Commission, ArtWalk, and Lake Country Art Gallery took the lead on a special public art project based on the work of two well-known local artists – Chris Malmkvist and Rose Braun – and with open public participation of residents of all ages and artistic abilities in painting 480 mosaic pieces to make up a large mural. The mural designed for installation in a high profile location incorporates the concept of the community’s culture and history as well as the importance of the rhythm of nature.
The Winfield Memorial Hall Board has generously provided the high profile space on its south wall nearest the traffic roundabout at Lodge Road and Bottom Wood Lake Road in Lake Country for the art installation.
While the many residents that participated in painting the large mural range from the very young to senior citizens with extensive or very little artistic training, the finished project will be sure to encourage dialogue among residents and visitors alike.
Rose Braun is an Okanagan artist who has been shown publicly throughout Alberta and British Columbia; her works are included in national, international and private collections. Braun’s work is greatly influenced by storytelling; she shares her personal experiences, made perpetual by its embodiment on the hard metal surfaces of her artwork. Using a mixed technique on the steel panels, oil for its rich color, acrylic and some acids for etching and resistance, as well as a number of tools to distress the surface of the areas she chooses to reveal or age for effect.
Artist Rose Braun asked herself “what does Lake Country mean to me?” when she considered the inspiration for the large community mural as part of the Lake Country’s 20th Anniversary Celebration. She said that after living in this community for 25 years she wanted to look at it again from the eyes of a visitor and appreciate the curious mix of rural and urban, orchards, campgrounds and development that make Lake Country unique. Braun thought about the established families, small orchardists and the gentle push towards urbanization and asked herself how that diversity could be represented.
The answer came in reflections on driving through the community over the years and noticing the often hand-made signs along the properties and roadways that blend the rural and urban. “I love the duality of words and images,” says Braun. “You get a different impression as the art permeates your thoughts.” A little controversy and ambiguity in art makes the viewer think more deeply about what the piece means to them.
Braun appreciates that language can be visual, tactile, like old typed letters and patterns – such as in Braille – that enhance memory.
Chris Malmkvist has lived in the Carr’s Landing, Lake Country area of the Okanagan since 1974.
Malmkvist works as a full time artist in his studio and invites you to come for a visit, you won’t be disappointed. He is a very eclectic artist and works in many mediums, often incorporating numerous techniques into his paintings and etchings. Malmkvist has also developed a reputation as a stone sculptor. Pulling inspiration from every day subjects, local wildlife, orchards, vineyards, and our beautiful lakes to the motorcycles that suddenly appear with the sunshine, Malmkvist creates individual works of art that are bursting with detail and the strength of his fascination with the subject matter.
Everyone is excited to see what the final mural will look like and how their small contribution will add to the interpretation of the whole mural. While the collaborative piece of public art has been installed on the Winfield Memorial Hall wall piece by piece during the week of August 10th-14th, the two lead artists – Braun and Malkmvist – will have an opportunity to put the final touches on the display before it is formally unveiled to the community during ArtWalk 2015 on September 12-13.