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Mayor’s Column – January 3, 2018

On Art


Art is a window to the soul – or maybe one window through which the soul looks out on the world or views the people and objects inhabiting our space. We have a few pieces of art in our house. None of it is expensive but each piece tells a story or brings back a memory of an experience that we wish not to forget. All we have to do is pause to remember the fireflies by the river in the dark night of Haiti or Grandfather’s boat in the lake that is forever lost to Russia.

As far back as recorded history can take us, people have left us the evidence of their hopes, their dreams, their fears, and yes, even their joys, maybe especially their joys. Through the media of bristle, feather, and even fingers dripping in oil, or black with charcoal, or stained with the pigments of plants and minerals from the soil, they left their visions on canvas, goat skin, and rock. Throughout the world the record of human presence from thousands of years ago can be found inscribed in the rocks.

Those who have had the privilege of visiting the cave paintings of Lascaux in France and at other sites in Spain or Eastern Europe will have marveled at the astonishing skill and talent these ancient stone painters exhibited. Incorporating into their work the contours of the rocks with their cracks and cavities, the artists expressed perspective, color, and emotion. in positively stunning depictions of their lives. That level of skill from 4-5 thousand years ago was not replicated, was not demonstrated again until early modern times. (Yes, I am fully aware of popular dating methods placing these paintings at 15,000 years ago.)

On December 15 the Chetwynd Arts Council presented the District of Chetwynd with 14 original pieces of art themed “Our Peace Country Home.” It depicts our home sweet home as seen through the eyes of the artist and communicated in oil, water color, charcoal, ink, and the photograph. Such a range of talent! Such a variety of media! And to realize that these works of art now belong to the people of Chetwynd to be displayed in perpetuity in the District Centre makes me even more conscious of the value and the talent we have right here, right now, right with us.

I am not supposing that these works of art now housed in the District Centre will last 5000 years. They are not done on rock and hidden in a cave. But for our lifetimes and beyond they will demonstrate Chetwynd’s skill, talent, and emotion with palate, brush, and camera.

Art enriches. On behalf of the people of Chetwynd and the District of Chetwynd, I thank the artists and the Chetwynd Arts Council that our lives have been enriched by the talents of the artists.

You owe the privilege to yourself of visiting the District Centre to pause in front of each work of art. Read the artist’s description of its meaning and message and the inspiration that motivated each artist to transfer the image from soul to material.

You will see the firefighter’s hands, the log truck and loader that represents so much of our collective experience, the meeting of settler and original inhabitant, the valley soon to be transformed, and so much more. You owe yourself a visit to the District Centre art gallery. And you owe each artist a personal “thank you” for sharing a little part of herself or himself with each of us.

“Thank you” to the artists from the Mayor of your home town.

Oh, by the way, given that Canada’s debt to income ratio is now 1.73 to 1.00, ever think of …?


Merlin Nichols, Mayor