September, 2021: End of a chapter!
A few days before our exit from Amazing Space and Wells, while a few friends looked from below, we took down our large sign and Claire’s two flying figures that had adorned the building for so many years. A poignant moment.
Special thanks to our fabulous moving crews!
The last weeks of packing up were intense: all-nighters, heavy items, extreme temperatures, forest fire ash raining down, mosquitoes, black flies and noseeums in the cooler mornings and evenings. Thankfully, many friends helped us pack up our tools, equipment, artwork, supplies and belongings, then get them out of the building and into trucks, vehicles, a trailer and a 20 foot steel container. Some of these items were heavy! We feel extremely fortunate to have received so much support! Big thanks to:
Clare Singleton who took us for lunch in Quesnel in early June to thank us for all the work we did for artists in the north during our years in the Cariboo, then showed up with her van to take shelving units and other fixtures to her own studio(s), which reduced the total volume we had to move. Then she came back to help shuttle van-loads of items to storage at the school. Then she filled her van to capacity and drove it south through the night before catching a ferry and unloading it here with Judy and Ian.
Andrew Glitherow came from Quesnel to spend two days helping take apart the print shop and haul items up the stairs to the storage container. Earl Dodds and his sons Phoenix and Nile took time out from their family holiday to help pack boxes and came up with some innovative ways to reshape cardboard to fit fragile ceramic sculptures. (Sorry, no pics 🙁
Dave Jorgenson, Cam Beck and Ruedi Schnyder helped haul the large print rack from the ground floor up the stairs and into the container, then the silkscreen exposure unit. Heavy and awkward! Ruedi returned many times to check up on us, drop off some of his cured elk, and one afternoon, to bring his trailer for a dump run that saved several trips in our car during the heat wave.
Ronna Macdonald helped tape framed picture glass and pack boxes, as did Dorothea Funk, Kathy Kinakin, Beth Collingwood and Loree Moffatt. Andrew Macdonald helped haul reclaimed fir up the hill from beside the building, then he and Ronna had us over for a meal. Anne & Steve Oliver and Murry Krause & Brian Lewis also fed us while during our packing marathon.
Brad Chudiak picked up a metal type cabinet and set of print drawers in his truck, and Pat Schmit kindly let us place the largest, most fragile artworks we bought from other artists over the years in her office’s ground floor storage area. Crystal Brekke, Kirstin Blight and Dave Jeffery helped with cleanup, packing, organizing and general hauling. Their attention to detail made everything go better.
Lots of people came by our final “Yart Sale” to help lighten our load and wish us well.
Dave Jorgenson & Cheryl Macarthy who hauled their Chevy van packed full with screen printing inks, screens, boxes and more to Victoria where they and Stan Hack helped unload it. They also let us use their van to shuttle various items within Wells, and kindly insisted that we stay overnight in their Mountain Thyme Getaway (it was fabulous!) before proceeding to drive south. Dave repeatedly helped load the container and devised a brilliant low-tech system to ensure that when we closed the doors, everything inside would snug up together so nothing would shift while in transit. It worked!
Our brother-in-law Larry Christensen drove up from Victoria with a 16 foot Budget cube truck. He is a professional driver and organized the space perfectly to maximize the load and minimize and shifting. He also identified what in the gallery wouldn’t fit in the shipping container and would instead need to go into temporary storage. (We are also grateful to Natanis Christensen for loaning us Larry for all that time!)
Murray Bush drove up from Gabriola Island with a trailer he had rented. After helping pack and load the trailer and his vehicle, he got up at 4 am to drive all the way to Victoria where he unloaded it all with Claire’s sister Judy and her partner Ian (who live immediately next door).
Previously, Eric Andersen took a load to Victoria in a Theatre Royal trailer kindly loaned by Richard Wright and Amy Newman, and Ron Johnson hauled our very heavy Hollander Beater in his truck.
Of course, without Ann Kujundzic’s support, as well as Ian and Judy’s and Natanis and Larry’s, we wouldn’t be living in Victoria. It’s great to be 20 minutes from her on foot.
Thank-you all so much!
Our final exit
We did a final walk-through the emptied, clean building to take photos and look for any forgotten items. Then we rang the bell one last time before we left and locked the doors. Our neighbour Mike came out and asked, “Was that the Farewell Bell?” Yes.
Mike and Marion had sold us the building back in 1995. The best neighbours anyone could have, they lived mostly near Quesnel, but kept working on the house next door to us. A few years ago Mike took up carving Cottonwood bark and recently began selling some of his work. This spring, he gave us a parting gift: a beautiful portrait of our building. We bought one of his gold mine sculptures to go with it and together they sit just outside our new kitchen to remind us the Amazing Space we created in Wells.
Mike drew our attention to the tiny cave below Amazing Space and asked, “Did I ever tell you about the gold?” “What gold?” He said, “back in the ‘70s, then Davey Williams and Dave Thatcher were working on the new sewage line, they encountered a lot of rock and had to blast some of it out of the way. They told me the blasting revealed a lot of sulphides in our hill, which typically indicates the presence of gold. They said I should sink a shaft below the church, but I never did!”
If we had known about the gold, would we have sunk a shaft instead of starting a gallery?!
Taking the long way
We arrived at our new home late July 2 after a hot and smokey drive via the Ashcroft-Logan Lake-Merritt-Hope detour to avoid the fires around Lytton. A very poignant route 😮
Claire’s sister Judy and her partner Ian (who live immediately next door) helped us unload perishables and essentials when we arrived; her sister, Natanis, had left various delectables in the fridge to welcome us.
Both of us are glad and grateful to be here. Judy and Ian planted a veggie garden in our back yard and we’re already picking peppers, tomatoes, squashes, purple Shiso, basil and lettuce, including Golden Purslane which is fabulous! Natanis continues to drop off fresh fruit and vegetables from her garden, too. Various family members and friends are getting us out now and then for bike rides which help orient us to Victoria. Rebecca Bishop has treated us to various delectables. Marsha Arbour & Marilyn Fuchs gave us homemade ice cream. Bonnie Ferguson regaled us in her back yard and Arifin Graham keeps trying to lure us for dips in the ocean at dawn. There are ripe blackberries everywhere.
The 20 foot container landed in our driveway on July 19. We have been gradually opening the many boxes filling the house, locating places for them, and trying to find things we need now. After 26 years in one place and moving from a much larger building, the unpacking process will take a long time! We retrofitted various desks and tables to set up a new office and repainted a bedroom so it can function as Claire’s work space until the studio is built. A framing room with our print drawers is next.
Once the studio is built, we can shift lots of equipment and art materials out of the container and out of the house, into our new production space. We won’t operate a retail gallery as we did in Wells, but might host the occasional launch of new works. After updating our websites and blogs, we aim to add e-commerce capacity.
Over the past year, Bill designed this book of poems and black & white photographs with David Beaver:
It’s finally in print and available at Albion Books & Records in Vancouver. Congratulations, David!
Last fall, Derek Evans published this book of poems, also designed by Bill:
Back in February, we printed a short run of shirts for our friend Art Napoleon and Moosemeat & Marmalade:
A short clip of printing the shirts with “Creeland Blues” from Art Napoleon’s Creeland Covers album, featuring Niska Napoleon & Shakti Hayes playing in the background.
We’ll try to post more photos and updates once the studio construction begins this fall …
This summer we met lots of people from Vancouver’s Lower Mainland who had never been to Barkerville or Wells and decided to explore their own province this year instead of travelling abroad. However, we definitely had far fewer visitors to our gallery overall due to the pandemic; no one from Europe or the US.
We operated “by doorbell” and could accommodate up to six people at a time if they were from the same bubble. We had hand sanitizer at the entrance, installed a plexiglass wicket at the front desk, and wore masks or face shields. Then we screen printed some cotton face masks 😉 Covid19 definitely reduced the number of visitors and created more work, but our situation was not nearly as onerous as it has been for those operating food services or accommodations.
After testing it out in August, 2019, we charged a $5 entry fee (except for children & locals) that was redeemable on any purchase. The majority were more than happy to pay this and apply it to a cappuccino, card or art work. And five dollars was just enough to filter out the few who were probably killing time!
During the spring and summer, thanks to the support of Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, both of us worked on various projects related to or provoked by COVID19. Claire produced a series of hand made interactive postcards as well as starting some new imagery on mat board and canvas. She did a lot of this at the kitchen table and on the floor in her studio area of the gallery 😉
While we were visiting the Chinese cemeteries in Stanley and in Barkerville to commemorate the Tienanmen Square massacre and to reflect on the courage of those resisting tyranny in Hong Kong, I thought of a way to illustrate some of the Cariboo’s Chinese history through printmaking. “Stanley Doorway” and “Chinatown Wall” are the first of two such prints.
Knowing how friends in Nicaragua were facing much more serious challenges due to the combination of the pandemic and political repression, I made a fundraising print for Nicas in exile using a 1979 (year of the overthrow of the dictator Somoza) license plate as the source image.
(More info here)
When I saw media coverage of racist violence in Canada and the US last spring and widespread protests, I wanted to respond as a visual artist. Another fundraising print, a portrait of Dr William Allen Jones, followed. He was BC’s first dentist licensed and practised in Barkerville. Making a portrait tribute to Dr. Jones offered a way to illuminate an important chapter in BC’s Black and medical history.
20% of the proceeds from print sales will go to each of the following non-profits: BC Black History Awareness Society, Friends of Barkerville, and the Wells Historical Society. We are hoping lots of our friends will tell their dentists about this and we can sell out the entire edition! You can see step by step photos of the printing process and a link to the order form:
And some coverage in the Quesnel paper: https://www.quesnelobserver.com/community/wells-artist-prints-portrait-of-b-c-s-first-dentist/
Update: the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia which includes several pieces by the late Zeljko Kujundzic and one piece by Ann Kujundzic continues until January 3, 2021. Info here.
This winter the snow kept falling in Wells – and falling, and falling. Great for XC skiing; good for salmon, since the melting snow pack will help cool the Fraser River and increase the oxygen levels. No need to go to a gym when we can have regular workouts shoveling and roof-raking snow! Although it’s been a challenge to keep up, we remember that we used to get this amount of snow in the 1990s. Temperatures have been milder, though, so the snow has been heavier.
Last fall, the District of Wells commissioned us to mount some of Claire’s pine beetle based art at the Visitor Information Centre:
This April marks the second anniversary of a fierce wave of repression by Nicaragua’s Ortega-Murillo regime that continues to this day. The government’s strange approach to the Covid19 pandemic adds a surrealistic streak to the atmosphere in the country. Here is a previous post and one more that trace some of the events [sorry, links not updated yet]. This week we remember our Nicaraguan friends and their families. #SOSNicaragua
We lost two fine musician friends in the last year: Keith Bennett and Salvador Bustos. Keith traded Bill harmonica lessons for bread many years ago and visited Wells several times. He paddled the Bowron Lakes with his son Jason, and later, his wife Shelley. Friends in the Vancouver area may have heard Salvador perform at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in 1985 along with Salvador & Katia Cardenal (Duo Guardabarranco). The three Nicas gave a benefit concert for us at La Quena at that time to help us raise funds to work in Nicaragua.
In early March we were part of an Arts component at AUPE’s annual Labour School in Jasper, Alberta – our fourth time.
Our dream team in the Direct Action program included Maria Dunn (song satires) and Lindsay Ruth Hunt (theatre), plus facilitator-organizers Trevor Zimmerman, Mike Painchaud, Darcy Thiessen and Candice Feilberg who led about 50 members split into two groups. Melissa and Sylvia, who were attending from the BC Government & Employees’ Union, enthusiastically helped out in the screen printing “sweat shop”.
Claire and I gave brief, basic drawing warm-up classes, then Claire assisted people in painting placards and banners.
I facilitated screen printing of placards, bags and shirts. A room full!
As always, it was wonderful to reconnect with our AUPE friends, our fellow facilitators, and of course, the members who bring so much enthusiasm with them. Maria Dunn’s evening Song Circle drop-in was a highlight once again. This year people sang songs in at least 6 languages other than English!
The Direct Action participants rehearsed an “intervention” that they carried out during the last evening’s plenary, using some of the placards, banners & other props we created together in the days before.
We feel very fortunate to be part of this gathering. And this year, all of us felt lucky that the school took place just before large gatherings started shutting down due to the risk of Covid-19.
We hope you’ll enjoy this short clip of two elk we saw in Jasper.
When we returned to Wells and started unpacking our carload of art supplies and equipment, we were aghast to look up at the gallery ceiling and see a terrifying dark spatter. Could the roof be leaking? (No, wrong location.) Did a bat get inside? (No, bats can’t shit upward.) Then we looked down and saw the culprit. Claire had made a syrup in January from 70% chocolate bars so I could make mochaccinos. Delicious. Sadly, the chocolate bear’s head had blown up due to fermentation The biggest tragedy, apart from the mess and the loss, was that the dried chocolate fragments were inedible 🙁 Now we refrigerate chocolate sauces – a very important life lesson!
We’ve stayed close to home since the Labour School in Jasper. I postponed a screen printing workshop we had planned to hold at Amazing Space. A group exhibition I was to be part of at Two Rivers Gallery in April was postponed for a year. Although these reduced our income, we are used to used to sporadic revenues! Mostly, we feel lucky to live in a small town and a large building, with quick access to the outdoors. There’s never a shortage of projects things to do! (Including ringing our bell and playing kazoos 😉
The Vancouver Art Gallery postponed an exhibition of “mid-century modern” art and craft that was to open April 10. It was to include a number of works by the late Zeljko Kujundzic and one of Ann Kujundzic’s textiles. Maybe next year?
The District of Wells implemented a green/ok and red/help paper sign system for people’s windows and encouraging buddy systems. Two small businesses are bringing in groceries for people to reduce trips to Quesnel and possible exposure. There’s uncertainty about the coming summer tourist season and we can’t yet predict how that will unfold and affect us.
If we can carve out the time, we may finally find a way to consolidate and update our websites, perhaps even set up online sales. It’s a daunting task, because between the two of us, we have a lot of artwork in a wide range of styles and media, as well as things like shirts, bags, cards, magnets!
For now, we’re making some new silkscreen prints for the The Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition (BIMPE) in Vancouver organized by New Leaf Editions, getting out to walk, XC ski and snowshoe when we can, and doing our best to stay in touch with family and friends. Thanks to all who have been checking up on us, and stay well!
PS For anyone who missed this post, there are photos & stories from our November art trip to Japan here.
[Please note: following our web hosting changes, we’ll replace missing gallery photos in older posts this fall]
Bill’s new print Babarrunak Raku has won fourth prize – an award of excellence – in the Tokyo Screen Print Biennale (The story of this print is here.) We will attend the exhibition and award evening in Tokyo, then take some small side trips before returning to Canada.
[Photos & stories from this trip here.]
This means we will not be able to participate as planned in the Artisan Faire at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George. To make up for our absence, and to help defray some of the costs of our trip to the Tokyo Screen Print Biennale, we have set up a temporary special sale of selected screen prints here.
For friends on our list, the prices include sales taxes and mailing within Canada; please inquire about matting options.
Speaking of art fairs and open studios – we wish our many friends all the best in Vancouver’s upcoming Eastside Culture Crawl!
For our friends in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver area, we are pleased to be able to contribute art to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives again this year for their annual BC Gala and auction on November 21.
Amazing Space Gallery here in Wells will be open during Barkerville’s Victorian Christmas weekend from December 14-16.
A few weeks ago, Bryan Meler called from the National Post to interview us for an assignment covering interesting properties for sale in Canada. Here is what he wrote.
Please pass the word! Thank-you 😉
Bill and Claire
Last fall and again this September, we enjoyed hosting the participants of an advanced photography retreat led by Chris Harris and Dennis Ducklow. Both of us gave presentations about our lives as working artists and our creative processes. The visits included a hands-on silkscreen printing demo and on both occasions we were delighted to attend the participants’ final slide night. Everyone created some powerful imagery during their time here.
In March, we returned to the Alberta Union of Public Employees’ (AUPE) annual labour school as part of the Arts in Labour History team with Maria Dunn, Pat Darbasie and Don Bouzek, with Abdul Malik and Winston Gereluk playing supporting roles. This time we were in Jasper. Our theme was the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike and the 100th anniversary of the union. The goals were ambitious, but as before, the rank and file members shone with enthusiasm, creativity and courage. We are so fortunate to have the chance to work with them and learn from them.
In early June we went to Victoria to celebrate Ann Kujundzic’s 90th birthday and her book launch of “Common Ground – A Memoir of Art and Activism in BC’s Interior” (I had designed the “family edition” which Caitlin adapted for their trade edition.) Many people attended the book launch and the party at Herman’s Jazz Bar.
You can read Luanne Armstrong’s review of Common Ground here.
Sadly, Claire’s brother László passed away in Budapest in early July. She and her father, Zeljko, met László for the first time in 1987 in Hungary when they traveled there for an International Sculpture exhibition. He visited Canada a few times and in 2011 we visited him in Hungary after exhibiting Claire’s art at a forest pathology conference. He spoke more English than any of us could speak Hungarian. He was always polite, warm, kind and exemplified respect.
The family’s story of separation and reconnection is not unusual in post-World War II Europe, nor has it been without the challenges posed by different cultures, languages and economies, as well as vast differences and forbidding borders. In spite of these obstacles, Laçi maintained his bonds of kinship and love with his family to the best of his abilities.
Setting aside our previous plans to move south, we operated Amazing Space on an on-call basis this summer. On the BC Day holiday weekend we started charging $5 admission – reimbursable on any purchase. Most people have been happy to pay such a nominal fee, and of them, most have used their admission fee as credit on coffee, cards, magnets or art. An interesting experiment! And once again, we met many wonderful people who happened to pass through our doors.
Bill has continued to generate graphics from time to time for our friends resisting the brutal repression of the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua, the heroic people who have been fighting the Site C dam on the Peace River in Treaty 8 Territory, and in solidarity with the Hong Kong Artists’ Union. In this period of monstrous brutality, numbness and denial, these people inspire us and give us hope.
More info about Nicaragua here. #SOSNicaragua
Peace River Screen Printing Project
A modest crowdfunding campaign to share screen printing skills at Treaty 8 Tribal Assocation, Fort St John, spring, 2018.
AUPE Labour School in Banff, Alberta, March 2018
In late March, we returned to Banff where the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) was holding its annual Labour School. It was a privilege to work with singer-songwriter Maria Dunn, theatre artist Pat Darbasie, labour historian and educator Winston Gereluk, and our team leader, video balladeer Don Bouzek, in the unique Arts in Labour History program.
The program’s theme this year was the organizing, certification, 189 day lockout (through the winter) and contract of workers at the Points West Living (PWL) seniors’ care facility in Cold Lake, Alberta. Our team met several times via Skype starting in late 2017. We pored over video interviews with members and AUPE organizers, transcripts and photos in order to develop some tentative plans to present to the two dozen rank and file participants who would be attending our program. The Cold Lake story touched and inspired all of us. Our goal: to assist the members in putting on a multimedia presentation about it to the entire school on the last night of the school.
When we learned through studying the materials that the PWL workers had worn red socks on Wednesdays for a while as a symbol of solidarity, Claire sketched out the word with the letters made from red socks, then painted it on Tyvek. I photographed it, then made it into black and white line art to create a photostencil that we could use to print shirts on the Tuesday afternoon of the program. The Banff Centre provided a room in the Janet & Peter Lougheed building which is close to the Velvet Antler printmaking studio where I could wash out the screen after (Thanks to Wendy Tokaryk & Debbie Kerr-Hunter at the Banff Centre for giving us access).
The PWL workers’ story had so many significant elements with visual potential that Claire and I decided to draft a banner with five distinct frames in it, which then grew to seven. Don noted that this kind of banner is called a “cranky” because it can be cranked as a sequential backdrop to theatre or puppet shows. Before leaving Wells, we cut a 24 foot long Tyvek banner 40 inches high. It would be a challenge to organize and paint such a big area with seven different scenes, but it sounded like fun!
After sketching in a sequence of frames that could tell the PWL story in episodes, some of the PWL workers (one was in our program, which was wonderful!) at the labour school gave us feedback that helped tweak the content to make the banner reflect their story as accurately as possible.
Claire gave a “Drawing on the Imagination” workshop (including some paint mixing practice) on Monday morning to get everyone loosened up for the banner painting portion of the program. Many participants had not had an opportunity to draw or paint since their school days.
The next day, the group started painting the banner.
Participants also made props like placards and a beautiful gas heater similar to the one the members used to keep warm during -40C temperatures. Except this one was made of cardboard, painted card stock and tin foil!
Meanwhile, Maria taught the participants the song “We Shall Not Be Moved” and then led them through a process in which small groups wrote new verses based on the PWL story.
Also meanwhile, when the group was not singing or painting, Pat led them through a series of exercises to create a number of sketches to depict the PWL story in dramatic form.
The group rehearsed a lot for their presentation on Wednesday, the last night of the school, which began with Winston introducing three of the PWL women. Their AUPE rep gave a brilliant speech, then Winston provided some historical background to the certification drive and lockout, going back to the Manning, Lougheed and Klein years. AUPE President, Guy Smith, kicked off the group’s performance by singing a song he wrote about Cold Lake and the PWL lockout, accompanying himself on guitar.
Don projected a video chronology of events while Claire and I unrolled the cranky banner, scene by scene.
After we left the stage with the banner, the participants took their places and started their performance while Don integrated more video and still projections with the Cold Lake story that Pat and Maria had choreographed. Finally, the entire labour school joined the participants in singing three verses of Solidarity Forever.
The whole process took about an hour and moved many people to tears. The participants performed an ambitious, complex piece of work with very little time to prepare and could be rightfully proud of themselves. It was an honour for us to work with such a fine team and group of enthusiastic participants. Thanks to all of you!
Additional photos on AUPE’s Facebook page.
March 2018: International Women’s Day Banner
Claire initiated a banner project with Lina Zinz, Vasanthi Pendakur and Kaitlyn Puffalt for the International Women’s Day brunch at the Wells school. Painted with acrylic on Tyvek, the banner took many days to plan, sketch and paint.
Lina wrote out the notation for a few bars from Buffy St Marie’s song, “You’ve Got To Run“.
The design & painting crew wishes to thank Denise Dauvin, Donna Forseille, Barb Cirotto, Loree Moffatt, Murry Krause and Bill Horne for their feedback and support for the project.
© Claire Kujundzic, Caroline Zinz, Vasanthi Pendakur, Kaitlyn Puffalt. No unauthorized duplication, public exhibition or performance is permitted. Distribution of the artworks through any means including electronic, is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.
Shortly after posting our last newsletter, in early July we drove north through the Pine Pass in the northern Rockies to take part in the Paddle for the Peace for the second year in a row. This inspiring event continues to energize us and connect us to people all over Treaty 8 Territory, the Peace River valley and around BC. (Thanks to Denise & Scott Linley and to Randy and Doreen Hadland for the overnights on the way there and back!)
We even made the front page!
That weekend, hundreds of fires broke out throughout the Cariboo and Chilcotin regions of British Columbia, mostly to our south and west, so we rushed back home. There were a few fires close to Wells, including one at Isaac Lake at the far rain forest side of the Bowron Lakes circuit. Within days, highways were closed, many towns were on evacuation alert and by the end of the summer, over half the population of the Cariboo Regional District had been evacuated (& eventually returned home).
The fires caused a lot of upheaval for many people, including many friends and of course a severe disruption of summer tourism; we had about 10% of our usual visitation. Our friend Chris Harris documented some of the fire activity here and CBC recently published drone footage of a few areas affected. I drove north of Williams Lake in the fall along the Old Soda Creek Road and witnessed some stark scenes there, too.
Even here in Wells @ 1200 metres elevation the smoke was very thick at times. For a week it was severe enough to start Claire coughing, so she decided to visit her family in Victoria and get some relief. We feel very fortunate that we didn’t have to abandon our home and that Wells did not burn. But for a couple of months, we kept a box of photos and special documents like passports near the door in case we might have to leave on short notice!
Our niece Chelan came to help us out in the gallery during the ArtsWells Festival at the end of July. We set up a pop-up screen printing tent in our friend Leigh Turner’s driveway and had fun demonstrating with various stencils and ink colours over the weekend.
Thanks to the Northern Development Trust Initiative the District of Wells was able to offer a Business Façade Improvement Program this year which covered up to 50% of the costs of scraping and painting our heritage siding. At first, the weather was too hot to paint, then suddenly, too cold! Although we weren’t able to complete all our goals, we made a lot of progress.
In the fall, I presented workshops in Victoria, Prince George and Vancouver on crowdfunding with Chuffed. Because this platform only serves non-profits and social causes, I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful, innovative volunteers in this sector. They all brought a collaborative spirit with them and taught me a lot about new ways to raise funds and create change. Thanks to VanCity Credit Union’s Tolmie Branch, Two Rivers Gallery, the Alliance for Arts & Culture and the Artists Legal Outreach for providing venues.
A highlight of the fall was hearing Senator Murray Sinclair speak at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives annual Gala dinner. It was a special treat to attend the event with a table of friends after many years of donating art to this fundraiser for CCPA.
The next week, while in Victoria, we attended a brilliant Reconciliation gathering and ceremony at Cadboro Bay United Church that Janet & Steve Gray and others organized. It’s clear that many, many Canadians want to tackle the hard, uncharted work of Reconciliation.
Perhaps that’s why so many of us are saddened and angered by the BC NDP government’s decision to continue the Site C dam, in spite of the evidence presented to the BC Utilities Commission. This is not a single issue; it encompasses treaty rights and reconciliation, as well as food security, energy policy, public debt and the environment. We worked very hard to dissuade the Premier and his cabinet, as did hundreds of party members, election volunteers and union members. (Bill’s Facebook profile has links to various graphics and videos about Site C.)
Key questions remain unanswered by the government and resistance will continue in the New Year. Our year-end donations have gone to the Peace Valley Landowners Association to help them defray the costs of fighting the dam, the government and BC Hydro. We hope enough others will do the same so that these fine people do not end the year in debt.
I’ll be able to mail out copies in early January. (I don’t yet know the retail price.)
Thanks to George Harris for his thoughtful essay and consultative approach. To Elizabeth Gibbs for her lovely design work. To George Harris, Dave Leman and Meghan Hunter-Gauthier for their help installing the exhibition and Kym Gouchie for welcoming us to Lheidli T’enneh Territory at the opening. To Claire Kujundzic for her ongoing encouragement, assistance and feedback.
For production help, materials, advice & support: Dave & Karen Jeffery ~ Sunset Theatre, Dave Jorgenson, Cheryl Mcarthy, Kathleen Angelski & Two Rivers Maker Lab, Art Napoleon, Verena Hofmann, Andrew Glitherow, Stan Hack, Lois Herrick, Ian Crawford, Lycrecia Adin, Brent Blake, Zirnhelt Timber Frame, Denise Linley, Lyndal Osborne & John Freeman, Sophia Isajiw, Oliver Kelhammer, Joyce Majiski, Jocelyn Banyard, Denise Dauvin, Danny Wong, Bruce Self, Murry Krause, Brian Lewis, Jane Inyallie, Kathy Landry, Angie at The Quesnel Drive-in Restaurant, Margaret Inoue, Kathy Kinakin at Beau Photo, Tim Hathaway, Lisa Kokin, Persimmon Blackbridge, Elizabeth Shefrin, The Banff Centre, Vancouver Native Education Centre, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Glen Alteen, Nettie Wild, Willox Graphics, Anne & Steve Oliver, Sima Sharifi & Arnold Witzig, Deb Hollett & Lawrence Feuchtwanger, Gillian Walker, Anne Fullerton, Susan Madsen & Stephen Mitchell, Mary Ann Annable & Charlie Roots, Juan Barbé & Eskulan.
For their coverage, I am grateful to Sheryl McKay of CBC’s North By Northwest, Jordan Tucker and Robert Doan at CBC Daybreak Prince George, CKPG TV, CFIS Radio, and Graphic Monthly Canada.
Since the New Year we have been active with many projects. In late March, we drove to Banff where the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) was holding its annual Labour School. We had the pleasure and privilege of working with singer-songwriter Maria Dunn, community-engaged theatre artist Lindsay Ruth Hunt, labour historian and educator Winston Gereluk, and our team leader, video balladeer Don Bouzek, in the Arts in Labour History program.
We were so inspired by what the two dozen enthusiastic participants produced in such a short space of time. With our team as a resource, and using a successful wildcat strike by AUPE health sector workers in 2012 as their theme, they rewrote Billy Bragg’s variant of the song, “There is Power in a Union”, created five original theatre scenes, painted a 14 foot mural with Claire, and printed their own wildcat T-shirts with me. They integrated all this into a stage performance for the entire Labour School on their last evening, along with projections of video clips from the actual wildcat interspersed throughout their performance. Very powerful, very moving.
The winter provided enough time to get a suite of two new prints started; the smaller vertical version is done and the first screen of the larger horizontal version is set up now and ready to print the background. Glow-in-the-dark ink mixed into the sky means the northern lights actually glow if viewed with the lights out! It’s fun to print northern imagery like this. And they’re all a bit different, because of the way the different inks interact. Here are a few samples:
“Disturbances in the Field” was the inaugural exhibition in the new Omineca Arts Centre in downtown Prince George, a partnership between Emily Carr University and Two Rivers Gallery. Both of my sculptures were about BC Hydro’s Site C dam on the Peace River and one of them helped raise $600 for Treaty 8 First Nations’ legal challenges.
In April, our friend Juan Barbé published a gorgeous new book about papermaking. It not only includes artistic interpretations of various papers (including several of my silkscreen prints), it has actual samples of papers made from certain families of fibres glued in!
Claire has been working since the spring on a large commission. Just in case the 4’ × 8’ (1.2m × 2.4m) canvas component wasn’t successful, she started a second version as insurance, then another, and another … eventually painting a beautiful new suite of large canvases. All will look sensational with her torn, stained and painted canvas “trees” suspended in front of them.
With a lot of help from our friends and family (John Marien, Dave Jorgenson, Dave Jeffery, Randy Hadland, Judy Kujundzic, Ian Crawford) we’ve made great progress on completing the upper, winding section of our stairs to Claire’s loft office above the living room. All made from reclaimed fir, pine, spruce and yellow cedar. (A friend on Facebook calls it our Stairway to Heaven 😉
In March we met with three designers in Victoria to explore our options for building a studio there, which we need to do before we can move from Wells. We also need to sell Amazing Space before we can move. Unlike Victoria and Vancouver, though, the Wells real estate market is weak, so we need help in spreading the word about our building to find people who – hopefully – will want to make it their base for their own creative endeavour.
In the meantime we are revamping our gallery for the summer tourist season. We don’t know if this will be our last, but here we are 😉
We are now back home after attending the Dickens fair as well as the Out Of Hand fair in Victoria. Having a booth with Claire’s sister Judy who has been doing her own metal work made the experience a lot more fun. Here we are setting up at Crystal Garden:
Temperatures in Vancouver were just below freezing when we left; by the time we reached Wells it was -24C! A bit more snow fell in our absence:
It was great to see lots of family and friends while at the coast and we owe many thanks to those who offered hospitality, camaraderie and logistical support:
Caroline Zinz, Dave Jorgenson & Cheryl Macarthy, Margaret Inoue & Richard George, Marleen Morris, Andrew Young, Ana Simeon & Tom Martin, Sarah Cox, Ben Parfitt, Pam Loadman, Roger Crowther, Janet & Steve Gray, Millie Jenkins & Jim Dew, Art Napoleon, Sima Sharifi & Arnold Witzig; Ann Kujundzic, Judy Kujundzic, Ian Crawford, Natanis Christensen & her family, and David Beaver.
An additional bonus in Victoria was seeing Nettie Wild host a screening of her new film KONELĪNE: our land beautiful. We highly recommend this beautiful, powerful piece of work.
We had a fascinating, intense trip to Spain in September for our exhibition at the Spanish Plant Pathology Congress. You can see photos and read about it on our “message from the beetle” blog, which also has a page about our delicious Tapas Night at Sassafras Savouries.
Since then we’ve been very busy preparing for the Out Of Hand fair in Victoria November 25-27. Both of us are excited about the new bags and flags we designed and printed (more photos on our Bags & Flags page):
Thanks to Sima, Sophia, Reza, Dasha, Neil, Danny, Ying-ying, Dragi, Jovanka, Sharona, Lina, Micah, Paula, Jon, Juankar, Yael, Thea, Roselyne, Margaret, Ferenç & Laszlo for their assistance with translation!
We also continue to work in support of the Treaty 8 First Nations and Peace River Valley farmers and residents who are defending the river against the BC government and BC Hydro’s Site C dam. When we heard that BC Hydro wants Arlene & Ken Boon off their 3rd generation farm by Christmas and had been drilling on their property, we wanted them to know they are not alone:
Agrologist Wendy Holm and others took that idea and the result is the Stake in the Peace campaign. There are now over 300 stakes outside the Boons’ house that people have purchased @ $100 each – you can, too! Just click Stake in the Peace.
Last week we helped organize an event in Quesnel with Ana Simeon of Sierra Club BC, Ben Parfitt of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Yvonne Tupper from Saulteau First Nation. Yvonne was one of the Rocky Mountain Fort defenders last winter and was also on the bus that went from the Peace River to Montréal and back to attend the West Moberly and Prophet River court cases. She is tireless! It was great to see her again, as well as Ana who spoke at the Paddle for the Peace, to meet her husband Tom, and to finally meet Ben.
It’s a privilege and joy to connect with all these people.
August 2016: Dear friends – hadi – bonjour – kaixo – ¿Qué tal?
Some of you may have heard our big news:
We have bought into a house (with significant support from Claire’s family) in Victoria that is immediately next door to Ann Kujundzic, sister Judy Kujundzic and our brother-in-law, Ian Crawford. Chef, broadcaster and singer/songwriter Art Napoleon has been renting the house and we are glad to have this connection with him and his daughters.
We have put Amazing Space up for sale (see the “Building For Sale” page on this site) and though we can’t predict when a buyer will come forward, a few people have already expressed interest and one day we will have to face the upheaval of radical downsizing, moving south and building a studio in the back yard! After more than 20 years in Wells, it’s time for a change and a chance to be closer to family.
In late September, we’ll be exhibiting our forest and plant-based art at the 18th Congress of the Society of Spanish Plant Pathologists in Palencia, Spain. We are excited by this new opportunity to share our work, to donate some of it to the permanent collection of the University of Valladolid, and to learn directly from leading scientists.
Due to the fragile state of the Spanish economy and budget restrictions at the university, the organizers can host us, but they can’t fly us or transport our work there. Because Canada Council does not recognize this as an “exhibition” (!), we have started our own fundraising to cover travel and shipping costs. Our crowdsourcing campaign has photos and descriptions of what we are doing, where and why:
Chuffed.org is based in Australia and only hosts campaigns for social issues, the environment, refugees & other causes; it doesn’t take a % like most crowdfunding sites. We’ll appreciate any sharing of the campaign with others who might be interested in our project and contributing!
Looking back at our mild winter:
Bill’s exhibition “Behind the Lines” at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George ran from January until April and included a number of new pieces. Claire provided pivotal support during production and helped with the installation.The public’s response and media coverage were very positive, and several dozen elementary school children who toured the gallery wrote letters to Bill about their concerns for the environment, homeless people and other issues – a profound gift.
During the exhibition, Two Rivers hosted a panel on Art & Change in partnership with the Pacific Institute of Climate Solutions and UNBC, with Bill, Kym Gouchie, Helen Knott and Nadia Nowuk, moderated by Michelle Connolly. What a fine evening!
In the spring, Bill designed a CD for Kym Gouchie‘s single, In The Hearts Of You & Me – a powerful, poignant and beautiful song that is a fundraiser for the Highway of Tears campaign. It was an honour to work on this project.
We also designed and printed another shirt for resistance to BC Hydro’s Site C dam, this time in Dane-zaa, then did a reprint of our Mamahtâwisîpiy shirts in support of the Treaty 8 Stewards of Land.
A few weeks ago we participated in the Paddle for the Peace – ten of us in the voyageur canoe that Marg and Jeff Dinsdale of Quesnel have restored! We finally had a chance to meet Ken and Arlene Boon, whose third generation farm is at risk of being flooded, as well as other key players in the remarkable “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” whose warm, respectful relationships are leading the way in the field of reconciliation. The drive was long, and we had to close our gallery temporarily, but it was worth every moment.
Speaking of paddling, Claire designed a new, full colour Bowron Lakes shirt this spring, and with Bill, a second, two colour Bowron shirt. You can see both designs in the “Shirts” section of this blog.
In late June we lost our dear friend, Charlie Roots, to ALS. He leaves a gaping hole in our lives, but we were glad we could attend his memorial in Whitehorse. His voice, smile and spirit will always be with us.
Charlie’s Mount Logan journal which Bill designed is now available and anyone interested in ordering a copy can email Bill. Our last conversation with Charlie took place via Skype in June just after it went to press, and he was radiant in the satisfaction of completing this project and sharing his story.
Bill recently finished designing a new Chris Harris book, British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast which will launch in early October. It’s been a privilege to work with such powerful imagery and as always, a pleasure to design with Chris, plus editor, Harold Rhenisch.
On the BC Day weekend, the ArtsWells Festival took place here and it was a pleasure to host Kym Gouchie, and seeing various friends from near and far, such as Sheila Allen, with whom Claire sang in the band Ad Hoc in Vancouver (thanks to Alan Zisman for posting so much material from that era of our lives!). We enjoyed spending time with her, Scott, Gina, and Katherine. Plus Stu Macleod and Mechthild Meyer from Ottawa, who came and cooked beautiful meals for us while we managed the gallery, and hiked Bill up Mount Murray. We also had a surprise visit from Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat, who founded the Princeton Traditional Music Society. We never know who is going to walk in through our doors!
Last weekend we were in Dawson City, Yukon for a remarkable printmaking event that takes place inside and beside the old newspaper office. Bill demonstrated sunlight photostencils for silkscreen printing, while Claire demonstrated collographs made with a portable Palm Press made by Saskatoon artist-innovator, Nik Semenoff. Here are some photos and commentary from some of the events that took place. And some of our own:
Here’s a very short clip of screen printing in action.
When we return from the plant pathologists’ gathering in Spain in late September, we’ll dive immediately back into work preparing for our booth at the Out of Hand Artisan Fair in Victoria, November 25-27. We look forward to returning to the lovely Crystal Gardens, and it’s good practice for our eventual transition to the coast. As usual, there’s lots going on and we are never bored!
Bill & Claire
PS As mentioned below, we try not to send out too many bulletins, and we send them via BCC, with no attachments, but anyone who wants to unsubscribe can send an email to us and we’ll remove you from our list; just put “unsubscribe” in the Subject line.
[November, 2015] Dear friends – bonjour – kaixo – ¿Qué tal?
Snow is falling here in Wells, but our gallery is cozier and brighter than ever, now that we’ve finally replaced all the old tinted, single pane glass with clear double glazed units – click the Renovations page above.
I am gradually shuffling content between our original website, a site primarily for my work and new one for our gallery (this blog). This way we’ll each have our own site, as well as one for the gallery, plus a portal from our new “Love Wells” page.
Last fall we spent some time with Eva Brucklacher, Birgit-Cathrin Duval, and Monika Birk here in Wells and at Bowron Lake while they were making a German language documentary film. “Unterwegs in Westkanada” runs just under 45 minutes. There are some beautiful shots of our area and we are honoured to have been included in the interviews. Kudos to Dave Jorgenson and Cheryl Macarthy of Whitegold Adventures for their pivotal roles.
In April we had the pleasure and privilege of exhibiting our work at GKo Gallery in Tolosa, Basque Country (Spain). While there we led some printmaking workshops and had time to explore. People were extremely hospitable and kind to us and there are a few photos and accounts of our experience here.
Both of us will be at the Out Of Hand art/craft fair in Victoria, BC soon, November 27-29 at Crystal Garden. (There’s a downloadable, printable coupon here for a $2 discount at the door.)
Claire will be at the Women’s Winter Faire at the Heritage Hall at 3102 Main Street, Vancouver December 19-20.
Although we weren’t able to participate in the East Side Culture Crawl, we did participate in the very first one, so both of us are included in this unique fundraising recipe book
On January 28, 2016 I have an exhibition opening at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, BC. This will feature my political letters series, such as this piece about immigration. I plan to have a few new ones, too, that deal with subjects such as BC Hydro’s Site C dam on the Peace River. Lots to do before then!
Speaking of Site C, with the assistance of singer/songwriter/broadcaster Art Napoleon, I designed and printed a batch of shirts as a fundraiser for the RAVEN Trust.
The design centres on the word Mamahtâwisîpiy in Cree syllabics, with the translation: “magical, supernatural or sacred river of wonderment.” We wanted to create a graphic of beauty and power with an educational function, and the response has been very positive. Thanks to an anonymous donor, contributions are matched dollar for dollar! If there’s enough interest, I may be able to do another print run before the end of the year. If anyone wants shirts, just let me know.
In the meantime, warm wishes from a wintry Wells,
Bill & Claire
PS We try not to send out too many bulletins, we send them via BCC, with no attachments, but if you want to unsubscribe, just send an email to and we’ll remove you from our list.
Amazing Space Studio
2338 Bowman Crescent
Box 41, Wells, British Columbia
Canada V0K 2R0