There are many reasons why Castlegar is the official “Sculpture Capital of Canada” and one of the main ones is the fact that for the past decade the city has hosted an annual Sculpture Walk event. Artists from the Kootenay region and beyond have their work displayed in and around the downtown core and visitors and locals alike are encouraged to vote for their favourites on an official ballot. The votes are then counted in October and the winner is purchased by the city to remain on display as part of its permanent collection.
This year there are 29 entries that have been erected around Castlegar and they include everything from an inquisitive-looking owl to a viking ship garden bench. There are also two colourful ladybugs clinging to a green steel stem created by Castlegar blacksmith and metalworker Lisa Huth called “Polka Dot Soldiers.” She chose that name because “lady beetles are not only cute and harmless to humans, they are excellent soldiers for your garden. Gardeners love them because they eat aphids and other plant eating pests.”
Another sculpture of a cute critter is called “Snowshoe Hare” by Nelson, BC-based artist and teacher Dave Dando. He says he loves scrounging through scrapyards to source material and for this one used steel and timber to “offer a creative take on the animal kingdom.”
One of the more abstract pieces in this year’s Sculpture Walk is called “Wisdom” and it features a tree trunk-like structure with reflective globes at its base and a glass ball at the tip of one of the “branches.” Made of stainless steel and glass by Tom Watson, a Métis artist from Kimberley, BC, the statue “glimmers with iridescence, the trunk sitting on reflective globes (that) reveal memories in the reflection of ourselves,” he says. “An interactive glass seed representing my young boy, inheriting my wisdom.”
Joy Barrett is the current executive director of Sculpture Walk and she says the idea for the event began with local artist Pat Field who took one of his pieces to a Sculpture Walk in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and liked it so much he pitched a similar annual event in Castlegar. The thinking was that populating the downtown core with different sculptures every year would encourage locals and visitors to stroll and discover the area. And it has!
The first event was held in the city in 2010 and Pat was the executive director for two years and then Joy took over. “Before we started there were maybe two public pieces in Castlegar and now there are over 50,” she says.
To learn more about the annual Sculpture Walk and to download a map and a voting ballot, visit sculpturewalkcastlegar.com