Mountains of Art festival returns to Pemberton

Building community sprit with the arts

The Mountains of Art festival is back in action after a year on hiatus.

The Pemberton Arts Council is reintroducing the two-day arts festival as the first event of Pemberton's Winterfest 2011.

Pemberton is one of 49 communities across B.C. to receive Spirit Festival funding from the provincial government. In an effort to celebrate the unique spirit of British Columbia, the events are intended to showcase the arts and culture of the province.

"We're rekindling the spirit of the Olympics," said Dave Moldofsky, chair of the Pemberton Arts Council. "This year we're celebrating the fifth year out of six - we couldn't get a venue last year because of the Olympics, so this year we got a grant from the Spirit of B.C. fund."

The Pemberton arts scene is quite large, but due to the lack of venue space it is somewhat of a struggle to keep local artists' work in one spot. That's why festivals like Mountains of Art really bring the community together on a mutual platform, he said.

"The Mountains of Art festival is all about community," Moldofsky said. "Community is culture and art and it's what makes up the fabric of our town.

"Because there is no gallery or venue in Pemberton we have to as a community celebrate our community by creating our own festival to showcase our great local artists."

The Mountains of Art format hasn't changed much in recent years, but the artwork is always fresh. This year, organizers have added a new children's exhibit.

"Saturday (Feb. 12) we will have the children's arts section, which is something we haven't had before," said Moldofsky, "and we thought of that because they are the future of arts in the community, so that's the part I would like to see grow the most."

But first it's the adults that have a chance to get creative. Friday night (Feb. 11), the Mountains of Art opening gala will kick off at Big Sky Golf and Country Club from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The gala includes an exhibition and sale with works by more than 30 local artists, plus a silent auction with proceeds going to the Pemberton Arts Council. Soulsong, a local jazz trio, and Megatron, a funky group from Bellingham, will supply live music for the evening. Tickets are $15.

On Saturday (Feb. 12) there will be a community celebration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. also at Big Sky. A variety of workshops for children, youth and families will be on offer, such as pine needle weaving, hand-drum making, soapstone carving, a musical jam with Papa Josh, snow sculpture and painting, and potato block printing.

Gerald Gabriel of the Stl'atl'ixm Nation will perform traditional dancing ceremonies to open and close the event, and Little Bear Productions, led by Anita Burlson, are also slated to perform.

Everyone is encouraged to come out and be a part of the vibrant creative community that is flourishing in Pemberton.

"I think we're the lucky ones to be in such a beautiful place where people can express themselves in a creative way," said Moldofsky. "To build community, people need to make that extra effort sometimes getting out there to support each other and organize the community - and that's what we have here in our community."

For more details about the fifth annual Mountains of Art, visit pembertonart.com.

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