Artist and former Rossland resident Brian Kalbfleisch will have his “Rossland Series” of wood tile mosaics on display at the Royal Bar and Lounge on Baker Street in Nelson for the month of July, each tile in the mosaics a piece of history salvaged during renovations of the Old Fire Hall and Bank of Montreal.
“Most of the natural grains and stained wood in the Rossland Series were once floor boards at the Old Fire Hall,” he said. He sanded a few boards to see what they would look like, “revealing a beautiful wood grain of larch and fir.”
Nevertheless, he has left most of the tiles in their original state, besides cutting them to fit the mosaic. Other tiles are painted in blues, whites, beiges, yellow, and some dark brown, wainscotting and trim from the BMO building.
Kalbfleisch said he received the lumber “through the generosity of some Rosslanders,” and worked through the pile of boards to remove nails, screws and “lots of dirt.”
He ripped and cut the boards into squares which he then glued to a surface, mostly eighth-inch mahogany door skin.
Kalbfleisch envisions numerous purposes for the works of art: “table tops, counters, wall art, or sunk into floors.” He also has lumber left over and is available for custom work and is open to offers on his art.
“I like to trade,” he added.
His largest piece, too big to fit in his car to bring to Rossland when he displayed a selection at the Spring Wing Ding last month, is hanging at John Ward Fine Coffee at the corner of Baker and Ward, and a number of other wood mosaics made from reclaimed Nelson wood will also be on display at the Royal.
Kalbfleisch was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., and moved to the West Kootenay at the end of 2006, calling Rossland home until he moved to Nelson last fall.
“I love to make art, although music has dominated my creative passion since I was quite young,” he said. Kalbfleisch was not formally trained in visual arts, but was a “constant doodler” through high school and university.
He worked for a time as an independent musician in Toronto, but also found work designing posters and business cards. He put on his first show of pen-and-ink drawings in 2001, began to paint, and started to entertain “aspirations of some success as an artist.”
“It was not meant to be at the time,” he said, “and I felt the need to get out of the Big Smoke.”
His passion for visual creativity only increased, however, even as he has also pursued work as a pianist and singer, and most recently working lounges and street corners with his ukelele.
“Visual art offers me an opportunity to be completely in control of the process. While every mistake or misstep may be mine, so too are the solutions to the problems that arise. I love the artistic process with all its challenges and rewards and the opportunity to see my visions materialize,” he said.
“My creative passion is served well in the West Kootenay, both musically and visually.”
Kalbfleisch extended his gratitude to Dave Tweedy, Dawn Leithead, Scott Milne and Padma Samchuk. He would be pleased to be contacted with serious offers on his work: Brian.Kalbfleisch@gmail.com.