Artists and art enthusiasts met, mingled and took in interactive demonstrations at Artists Night at the Root Community Emporium on Feb. 19.
“I’m very excited to be part of a place that celebrates artists,” said Root proprietor Amanda Amundrud, welcoming the assembled crowd. “Thank you everyone for coming, thank you for supporting the arts, thank you for sharing your art.”
Among the artists showcasing their talents are fibre artists Cathy Merkley and Trudy McCall. The pair owns an alpaca farm outside of town and makes works of art from shorn and dyed alpaca fleece.
While McCall spins yarn from alpaca fibre using a compact spinning wheel from New Zealand, Merkley creates colorful flowers from the fibre using a technique called needle felting. With a needle, Merkley transforms the cotton candy-like material into a blooming bouquet.
“I think it’s fabulous for the community … to have an Artists Night and to showcase the really vibrant arts community,” Merkley said. “For us to participate in that is just a real honour.”
Merkley says not a lot of people get to see how fibre art is made, and she hopes to get people thinking about the time and skill involved.
“To see yarn spun from fibre is really a fairly novel thing,” she said. “It’s gaining popularity but it’s not commonly known, so were just hoping that people will be interested in it and learn something new and become aware that there are people in the neighbourhood who do this.”
At the other side of the room, painter Cheryl Quist puts paintbrush to canvas, carrying a conversation while working on her watercolours. Samples of her work cover her table and hang on the wall. She says Arts Night is a good opportunity to meet new artists and watch them at work.
“Between Lakeland College and the Root and the Cultural Centre, those are the hubs of artistic culture in this town,” she said. “I think it’s really important to support it and I appreciate Amanda for doing that here.”
Many of these artists have work on display and for sale at the Root, and Amundrd says Artist Night gives people a chance to “put a face to the work.” Artists Nights usually have a musical guest and this night Lakeland College’s Theatre for Kids’ put on a surprise performance from their upcoming production of Beauty and the Beast.
“I feel really happy right now,” Amundrud said at the end of the night. “There is a tremendous amount of talent in our community and it’s really nice to invite folks to come and connect with the artists.”