Mountain art festival covers vast range

An intimate experience with artists performers and musicians in Canmore

Singer-songwriter Cori Brewster will be joined by an unusual accompanist when she releases her new album inspired by the history of the Canadian Rockies June 19 in Canmore. Friend and local visual artist Pascale Ouellet whose medium is hot wax will paint as Brewster sings from Buffalo Street a CD inspired by historic tales of Banff.

It’s a partnership that Brewster says exemplifies the multi-disciplinary nature of Canmore’s seventh annual artsPeak Arts festival. “I just think that there’s nothing like it in Alberta in terms of the extent that it covers. It’s a four day festival with 26 galleries 38 venues and 120 artists. It really covers a whole gamut of different things” says the musician a longtime participant in the festival and this year’s honorary chair.

The festival opens with a performance by Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen on June 18 and closes on the night of June 21 with multi-instrumentalist Shane Philip. In between artsPeak offers everything from street performers to film to art with acupuncture needles. Tours of local galleries and artists’ homes encourage visitors to explore the mountain town while Create Your Own Mandala and other workshops give art lovers a chance to get hands on. The majority of events over the festival’s four days are free.

The eclectic festival’s development was organic according to event co-ordinator Ric Proctor. “It’s just sort of grown on us. In the beginning there were just a few offerings (but) every year we get people saying ‘Oh I’d like to be involved with that.’ From year to year we really try to include as many of the genres as we can.”

Though the festival presented by the Canadian Mountain Arts Foundation incorporates artists from across Canada the majority are local. “Canmore I think per capita is one of the richest cultural communities in the country” says Proctor. “We have a really high percentage of artists living here; the lifestyle here is very conducive for artistic endeavours. There’s just a really really rich cultural community here and (the festival) showcases that.”

With events like artTour which takes festival-goers into the homes of Canmore artists Proctor promises a more intimate experience at the festival than many big-city events. “You can go to the artists’ homes and interact with them there. You can interact with people on the street at the performances and at the cafés — it’s all about community here. It’s an opportunity to interact with the arts community in a really personal way. Sometimes in the city it’s just not so personal.”

New to the festival this year is artWell which explores the relationship between art and wellness with a workshop on achieving balance through art and an acupuncture art display. Also for the first time this year artSpoke sees Canmore artists decorate bikes to be auctioned off for charity.

For more information on events in Canmore this weekend go to artspeakcanmore.com.