Feature Legendary Artists

An abundance of artistic imagery and journeys have coloured the pages of the Fernie Fix. We caught up with some of the women painters, potters, writers and musicians we have featured in past to share their thoughts on legends, obstacles and inspiration.

I am a figurative, with a love for colour and movement. My work is about capturing moments that fill up our cups!

My real-life legends are my family. A woman is truly blessed when she has the influence of family that love and support one another. This is brought home to me every day in my practice.

My biggest obstacle in life as a professional artist is time management, the true conundrum is really how to get phthalocyanine green out of my clothes, and hair, and eyebrows…

My wish is to create a spark of joy… something to hold onto, something to make us grateful that the world is a beautiful place.

As of April, I will have published eight books: a short story collection, four novels, two memoirs, and a collection of essays on Canadian sport literature. 

Lately, Laura Nelson has been a local inspiration – for her art and her community contributions, from being one of the initial owners of our bookstore (every good town needs one of those!) to her hard work helping launch the Fernie Museum. Artists can be stingy with their time; Laura’s art has not suffered because of her generosity. I love her trees, especially, and the way her paintings both reflect nature’s beauty and inspire us to protect that beauty. Readers will find words of appreciation in my forthcoming book, This One Wild Life.  

Fearing judgement, as well as the flipside: seeking approval have been obstacles I have faced as an artist. I’m pretty much over it though.

What do I hope to inspire? Energetic conversation. That my books make people think and make them talk (about the kind of people they want to be, about the kind of lives they want to live, about what it feels like to experience the world as someone different than themselves).

Painting is a way for me to honour and express my deep appreciation and concern for the forests and landscapes we live in. It challenges me, keeps me learning and discovering about myself and the subjects I study in my paintings.

Female Legends who have influenced me include Harriet Tubman, Emily Carr, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Diana Beresford-Kroeger and Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Self-doubt and the feelings that I’m not good enough have plagued me for most of my life. At times this is paralyzing, but I’m learning to lean into it and use it to motivate myself to be brave, learn more, keep trying, and to be patient. I hope this inspires others to have courage - believe in yourself, find your passion, challenge yourself and most importantly, connect with and care for the ecosystems we live and play in.

MARY MENDUK, Writer, Musician and Painter
For a start, I did not think myself as much of a feminist, my upbringing was very traditional. Growing up in Fernie choir and drama were weekly activities, no movies in the middle of the week. In later life all my involvement started with groups, the Fernie Visual Arts, Station Strings and writing with Keith Liggett’s writing sessions.

Rose Watson was the living legend who influenced my changing role as a woman. Rose was a master tapestry weaver and founder of the Fernie and District Arts Council. We were daughters of immigrant parents, interested in music and drama, we grew up in mining towns. From Rose I learned, I could be a working mom and hire a weekly housekeeper with no guilt, in order to participate in art activities. Also, I was greatly fascinated by the work of the American artist, Georgia O’Keefe.

My biggest obstacles throughout are procrastination, self-doubt, and self-criticism.

Opportunities for creative development are always available, even in a small town. There are always individuals willing to share their craft. Many “wanna bes” are daunted by the expertise in urban areas and are intimidated to begin. Fernie is a good starting place for creative involvement. Creativity adds electricity to our lives and vibrancy to our community.

I enjoy spending time recreating outdoors as much as possible with my family and friends. I have been living and painting in Fernie for over 20 years and my work is recognized for its energetic tree portraits and rocky mountain landscapes, especially those near Island Lake Lodge. As an artist, I am inspired by exploring our surrounding wilderness areas with my camera or painting outdoors “en plein air,” then drawing on these experiences back in my home studio to create larger, more immersive paintings on canvas. 

As an artist, I was influenced by the legendary Emily Carr, Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo. Time management is an obstacle I am continually working on! 

I hope my practice inspires others to stop and appreciate the simple beauty that surrounds us, like a moment of fleeting light found within the landscape, to care for the environment for future generations and to foster creativity in others, young and old.

SAGE MCBRIDE, Writer and Musician
I am a member of the band Shred Kelly. My primary work is performing, writing and recording music, but we are also self-managed, so there is a lot of behind the scenes work I do as well. I do grant writing, tour planning, event planning, video producing and planning, social media, marketing, website development and maintenance, online store management and maintenance and promotion. 

A couple of legends I am influenced by are Emily Haines and Stevie Nicks. I am also in awe of The Good Lovelies and Jill Barber and how they balance their families and music careers.

There are so many obstacles to being an artist in the best of times. The biggest obstacle has been over the past year with the live music industry shutting down. We’ve really had to think outside of the box constantly to try to stay afloat while the world changes around us. Combine that with having a young child, plus the mental load of a global pandemic - it hasn’t been easy.

I hope to inspire others to listen to their creative ideas and do them! Regardless of what the outcome is. The process alone is fulfilling.

SARAH PIKE, Slab Potter
I am a slab potter, which means I make pottery out of clay, but not on a wheel. I’m constantly torn between a minimal approach and a throw-everything-at-it approach. My pots sit somewhere on that spectrum.
The most legendary woman in my life is my Mother. She was a life-long seeker of knowledge and experience. She was my biggest fan and encouraged me to do whatever I put my mind to. 

As a young artist I idolized Betty Woodman, Linda Sikora, Lucie Rie, Julia Galloway, Kate Ohe, Frida Kahlo, Eva Hesse, Annie Leibovitz, Emily Carr, Georgia O’Keefe, Artemesia Gentileschi, PJ Harvey, Bjork, Betty Davis, Ani Difranco, Sinead O’Connor, Lauryn Hill, Kathleen Hanna, Jane Goodall, Nellie McClung, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, and Alice Munro. Their art, actions and words still make me stand taller. More recently, Ava DuVernay, Rachel Cargle, and Greta Thunberg. Are they not queens?

When I’m inspired, it’s initially exciting, the possibilities endless. But the army of self-doubt, jealousy, and imposter syndrome attack. It feels pretentious to hope to inspire, but it would be good to inspire strength to ward off that army, and to inspire vulnerability because I swear that’s how you let the creativity in.

SHELBY CAIN, Writer and Musician with Wild Honey
After such an extraordinary year, I don’t have to look far to find legendary women who offer me inspiration. They’re standing all around me. Working at the hospital and the grocery store. Keeping their business doors open and the smiles in their eyes despite extreme personal sacrifices. Moms dropping their kids at school, navigating all the difficult questions with love and empathy. Women showing up, day after day, to jobs that keep our small town thriving. My daughters, bravely donning masks and backpacks, gracefully accepting a situation they don’t understand. 

My mom, staying positive when she desperately misses her grandkids’ arms wrapped around her. The smell of their hair. Their sweet kisses. As an artist, I have temporarily lost my platform. As a mom, I’m struggling, just like you. As a woman, I encourage you to stay strong ladies, because when this fricking thing is over, I’ll meet you for a cocktail at The Northern. And I promise, it’ll be LEGENDARY.

I am a landscape painter who gets distracted by wildlife. In my landscape paintings I aim to evoke connection, to draw the viewer in by capturing the fleeting moments we fly past in our everyday lives. My wildlife paintings are an expression of the many encounters I have had with the diverse wildlife we share this valley with.

My mother and Grandma Theada are the two strong women who taught me to get up, lift my chin and keep moving forward and double dare anyone who said you couldn’t. 

As an artist my biggest challenge to overcome is starting. Whether it is a new piece, returning to a painting or trying to finish one, showing up is the hardest thing - especially when smart phones are so desperately in need of our attention.

I hope to encourage others to show up. Being a creative is a lonely path. Acknowledging the obstacles, voicing a creative’s inner critic and offering the space to allow others to thrive, those are my goals.