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Kootenay painters bring Mount Assiniboine to Rossland

Jenny Baillie and four other Kootenay artists - including fellow Rosslanders Stephanie Gauvin and Louise Drescher, Mirja Vahala from Castlegar, and Brigitte Desbois from Nelson - started what they hope will become an annual painting retreat. - Submitted photo
Jenny Baillie and four other Kootenay artists - including fellow Rosslanders Stephanie Gauvin and Louise Drescher, Mirja Vahala from Castlegar, and Brigitte Desbois from Nelson - started what they hope will become an annual painting retreat.
— image credit: Submitted photo

By Yolanda Ridge, Rossland News

“There is a magic in the mountains that is not easily expressed with words,” admits Jenny Baillie. But that’s not stopping her from expressing it with paint.

In 2012, Baillie and four other Kootenay artists - including fellow Rosslanders Stephanie Gauvin and Louise Drescher, Mirja Vahala from Castlegar, and Brigitte Desbois from Nelson - started what they hope will become an annual painting retreat to capture the magic of the mountains on canvas.

On their inaugural trip, the group spent five days painting in the Selkirk Mountains.  The self funded venture was initiated by Gauvin who was inspired to bring her passion for Plein Air (the French term for painting outdoors) to the West Kootenays after participating in “Art in the Park”; a celebration of Yoho National Park’s 125th anniversary.

This past summer, the Carlyle Group of Painters – named after the location of their first retreat -  headed to Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in the BC Rockies to spend a week “on top of the world – unplugged and unattainable,” according to Drescher.

The location was chosen by Gauvin after hearing about the grandeur of Mount Assiniboine from good friends and longtime Rossland residents, Claude Duchesne and Annick Blouin, who now own Mount Assiniboine Lodge.

Getting to the lodge, an eight hour hike, required helicopter assistance to deliver the group’s gear (which included paints, canvas, and a telescoping easel with umbrella in addition to the standard food, clothing and sleeping bag). Travel was funded in part through grants from the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture, Nelson and District Arts Council, Castlegar Arts Council, and the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.

The results of their seven day battle with the sun, wind, rain – not to mention the marmots trying to eat their lunch and mosquitos trying to eat them - will be on display at the Rossland Gallery in the upcoming show entitled “The Carlyle Painters Group: Paintings from Mount Assiniboine”.

The show, which will consist of fifty to sixty paintings ranging in size from small 8”x10" to large 40"x 50", starts with an opening reception on Friday, November 29 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  The paintings will remain on display at the Rossland Gallery from December 1st to 15th.

The location for 2014’s Plein Air has not yet been determined but the group definitely plans to get out into the mountains again next summer.

“Doing art retreats is for us very exhilarating,” said Gauvin. “We get up there and share the same wonder of the beauty that surrounds us, and a deep appreciation and love for being able to work at our craft.”

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