By Phil McLachlan
Sarah Pike has been opening her house to local artists for six years. Hearth, an annual art show, once again drew a large crowd and proved to be a successful event.
Since its start six years ago, it has expanded in both artists involved and popularity with the public. The original concept has remained the same, however.
“I knew I wanted to have a home sale, and have people come into the house to see art in a house setting, because that’s hopefully where it’s going to end up.”
Pike sees the art culture in Fernie as expansive and vibrant.
“There’s so many talented artists here, it’s because I know these people that we’ve brought them together. But there’s so many people I see doing amazing things; it could be a way larger sale, but I’d still try to keep it intimate.”
Leanne Stothert was one of the artists who had her work on display, and has been involved in the art show since the beginning. Painting is her forte, and figurative landscapes and animals are her passion. Integrating these two things together results in an excellent representation of the animal on canvas.
A study in graphic design eventually led to computer animation, which led to a life of painting when she moved to Fernie.
This acrylic artist recently took her passion to the next level, moving into a studio on Second Avenue in September of this year. She shares this space with her husband who also has an office in the building.
“I don’t think I’d ever imagine I would have something on Second Avenue,” she said.
First arriving in 2000, the art community was dry, with little life and minimal participation. But since then, Stothert has seen the art community grow and expand very rapidly.
“We’ve been here 16 years, and it seems like in the last five or six years it’s really blossomed. Such a variety; potters, printers, painters, glassblowers, it’s been incredible to see that.”
Stothert accredits art shows such as this as a driving force for her art. She has found that it has pushed her to do better and strive to grow as an artist.
Her studio is not currently open as much as she would like, as having a family limits her availability. In the future she hopes to be open three days a week, and she also plans to be open for two-week stints, hosting other local artists in her studio, two to three times a year. A goal for the first feature show is sometime in March of 2017.
Michael Hepher from Clawhammer runs a letterpress downtown Fernie and shares this space alongside Angela Morgan, another artist featured at this event. He was featured in this show, displaying his old-school three-dimensional printing technique.
Holly Kimola works with leather and antique lamp work, and combines both Edison bulbs and old household items to create unique, vintage style light fixtures. Her creations complemented other works of art by providing a warm, calming light source.
Janet McIntyre dove into art school and emerged as a jewelry artist, and she feeds this fiery passion alongside other local businesses in Fernie. Integrated into the community for many years, McIntyre enjoys coming to Hearth, year after year.
Katherine Russell made the journey from Elkford to participate in this event, and she was seen showing off her many pieces of blown glass art. She has been doing this for 14 years, and she sees herself as a much different artist than when she first started.
Russell loves what she does because, “It’s fast, and exciting, and sweaty and loud and dirty and a lot of fun to make. Also because it’s a part of the community, you can’t blow glass alone. You need a studio and you need a studio space where there’s multiple people. I love that camaraderie, that company, that challenge and that connection.”
Establishing herself as an artist in Elkford has been a long process, but Russell has been heavily involved in the arts council which was started only a few years ago. She has also been teaching multiple classes which have contributed to her presence.
Russell just completed an art piece for the Rocky Mountain Elementary School in Elkford. This is the largest scale project she has done, to date. It is comprised of an intricate glass panel display including a grizzly and a cougar. This will be on display this coming Monday. Russell hopes the future contains more commission work, as she finds this to not only be profitable, but extremely satisfying.
“Working with a client to find a balance between what art I make, what I really love, what they want and designing a project together. I really love doing that right now,” she said.
Last but certainly not least, Hearth host, Sarah Pike had her pottery on display, which she learned to craft through art school. Moving to Fernie, her art became a full-time deal, as the kids were old enough to go to school, leaving her to study and perfect her passion. Art is a large part of her life, and she believes it to be an integral part of a community.
“I think art and beauty is really important in culture, because there are so many other things that are so negative in our world,” said Pike. “It’s so great to bring beauty into our world.
“What I really love about this kind of thing is the sense of community,” she added. “And artists bring other people together as well, all under that same thing.”