The Columbia Basin Culture Tour is quickly approaching. The tour is a Kootenay-wide phenomenon stretching from Greenwood to Fernie on August 13 and 14. It will give visitors and locals an opportunity to visit the homes and studios of artists, artisans and master craftspeople throughout the region, and learn first-hand of their inspirations and experiences.
There will be five stops on the Rossland portion of the tour, including painter Stephanie Gauvin, the Rouge Gallery, the Rossland Historical Museum and two women of many talents: Chris Marit and Tricia Rasku.
The Rossland News visited with Marit and Rasku to get a taste of what art and culture fans had in-store.
Marit’s first love is Christmas figurines, particularly large, life-like Santa Claus, which are lovingly crafted from clay face to hand-sewn outfits. Framed paintings in a variety of styles and mediums line her workshop wall, and papier-mache statuettes in varying stages of completion dot the shelves.
“I like to do a lot of different things,” Marit states, “I get bored quite easily, and this way I can keep creating by moving on from one thing to the next.” She continues to grow the scope of her artistic projects by partaking in workshops and reading books on new craft ideas. Her newest project is rock painting, where Marit finds smooth river stones and allows the shapes to dictate which animals will be teased out by her brush strokes.
Marit works mainly from home, but spends several hours each month at Trail`s The Artisan, which is an artist-run co-op where the public can purchase hand-made works of art.
Tricia Rasku of TR By Hand also has a diverse portfolio, which includes working with several textiles, and making soaps from scratch. The first thing one notices when walking into the Rasku home is the pleasant scent of natural soaps. The second is a series of beautiful pedal-powered spinning wheels, collected from many corners of the world. “I really enjoy spinning,” Rasku says, “It’s one of the few things I can do for hours at a time. It is meditative; the spinning works best when done to a rhythm that matches your heartbeat. Sometimes I’ll sit down at the wheel in an agitated state and it doesn’t go well, but then I have to slow down, and I’m forced into calmness.”
The entire upper floor of the home is dedicated workspace; shelves full of raw wools and bundled yarns, a series of looms, racks displaying finished scarves and hats, and a kitchen that resembles a chemical laboratory. In addition to spinning her own yarn and dyeing her own wool, Rasku is a master weaver, talented hand-felter, and seasoned soap-maker.
Blocks of freshly-cut soap, swirled with lavender or perfumed with citrus, are stacked in pyramids while they cure. The soap is quite popular and sales are going well. Members of the public who are interested in learning the craft can take part in soap-making workshops that Rasku hosts in her home. Those who would rather leave all the hard work to the professionals can purchase the soaps at the Rossland outdoor market on Thursdays.
Rasku`s felted hats, woven handbags, colourful scarves hand-made from silk, cashmere, wool, cotton… basically any material that strikes your fancy, can be found at the Rouge gallery in the Bank of Montreal building in Rossland, and also at The Artisan on Eldorado Street in Trail.
Visit these ladies in person, and many other talented local artists, on the upcoming Culture Tour. Detailed brochures are available at the Rossland Chamber of Commerce, or information can be found on-line at www.cbculturetour.com.