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Awards handed out at Open Sky regional juried art exhibition

The 40th annual Peace Liard Regional Juried Art Exhibition debuted May 6 in Tumbler Ridge, celebrating and awarding the best of local art in Northeast B.C.

The 40th annual Peace Liard Regional Juried Art Exhibition Open Sky opened May 6 in Tumbler Ridge, celebrating and awarding the best of local art in Northeast B.C.

The prestigious annual exhibition was put on this year by the Peace Liard Regional Arts Council and the Tumbler Ridge Community Arts Council, and features 104 submissions by 46 artists from across the region.

Fort St. John artists Samantha Wigglesworth and Eliza Massey-Stanford were both honoured with Distinguished Awards for their representational and three-dimensional works; Wigglesworth for her acrylic with 3-D jewellery on canvas portrait titled 'Modest', and Massey-Stanford for her wool work piece titled 'Beach Rocks'. 

Dawson Creek artist Kit Fast was also honoured with a Distinguished Award for his conceptual photograph of process work titled 'under consideration'. 

And Fort Nelson photographer Tracy Rondeau received a Distinguished Award for her photography of a chickadee taking off, aptly titled 'In Flight'.

The exhibition gives both emerging and professional artists the opportunity to exhibit their artwork and network with fellow artists within the Peace River and the Northern Rockies region, and further their artist development. 

This year's exhibition was adjudicated by B.C. artists Lynette La Fontaine, a Métis beadworker, and Cara Guri, a realist portraitist.

Fort Nelson artist Crystal Behn won the Toni Onley Artist Project Scholarship for her conceptual beaded denim set titled 'Our Trauma Bond'. The scholarship includes a one-week arts residency in Wells. Alex Landon Richardson was named Artist in Residence.

“I can’t believe this is my job,” said Haley Bassett, executive director for the Peace Liard Regional Arts Council, during the opening reception held at the visitor centre. "It's been such a privilege and a joy to experience all this artwork, and I am just so amazed with the talent in this region."

She added that it was her first time organizing an event of that size, but was pleasantly surprised by the turnout and warm reception from the public. 

"This is the first in-person event that the arts council has organized since COVID, so kind of a lot of unknowns. I was prepared for five people to show up, but I think we had around 50, we were completely at capacity," said Bassett. "It was great and people seemed to really have a great time looking at the artwork." 

"It really is impressive, considering a lot of these artists are self-taught, and they can really stand toe to toe with professionally trained artists."

Plans have yet to even begin formulating for the 41st, but Bassett says Hudson's Hope is the next likely candidate for the regional event, as she's been thinking about the Peace Valley Arts Society, who's quietly been reviving the arts community for the small town. 

"I think I'd like to have it in Hudson's Hope, because I don't think we've had it there in a long time. The arts council there is making a resurgence, and there's some really exciting things happening there," she said. 

The 40th annual exhibit, titled Open Sky, is on display at the Tumbler Ridge Visitor Centre until May 30, with voting for the People's Choice Award ongoing.

Distinguished Awards:

($600 each)

Toni Onley Artist Project Scholarship:

Chosen Awards:

(Chosen artworks will be featured in the PLRAC’s annual calendar)

  1. Flicker of Diamonds, by Ken Forest

  2. Titan Explorer, by Don Pettit

  3. Stony Lake Shimmer, by Alex Landon Richardson

  4. I’ll Have What She’s Having, by Donna Bozarth

  5. ē-kī-āhkwatic ōtehimin, by Adrienne Greyeyes

  6. The Shack, by Kim Ans

  7. Sown By Nature, by Kathie Young

  8. Atlin Lake 7 – Confluence, by Frances Obie

  9. Little Bee, by Caily Oldershaw

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Friendship, by Margaret Mabius

  2. Trick of Light, by Wayne Sawchuk

  3. Bergeron through the looking glass, by Tiffany Hetenyi

  4. Pulse, by Payge Fortier

  5. January Sunrise, by Lorri Langevin

  6. It’s Okay…but it’s not Okay, by Margaret May

  7. Abandon Native Cabin Teslin Lake, Yukon, by Joseph Johnston

  8. Grizzly Bear, Thunderbird, Sun Chief Totem, by Curtis Dickie

  9. blue shadows, red fox, by gary lowe

  10. BALANCE, by Carol Liu


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