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Art, sports, nature connect in Canmore

There will be seven temporary art installations present on Spur Line Trail, Legacy Trail, downtown and in Riverside Park for the Art Walk in the Woods, which pays homage to the upcoming COOP FIS Cross-Country and IBU Biathlon world cup events at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

CANMORE – The woods have been decorated with art installations for nature, sport and art lovers to gaze upon strolling on Canmore’s scenic trails.

Until March 30, seven temporary art installations will be present on the Spur Line Trail, Legacy Trail at the Canmore Nordic Centre, downtown and in Riverside Park for the Art Walk in the Woods, which pays homage to the upcoming COOP FIS Cross-Country and IBU Biathlon World Wup events at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

Sue Hayduk, the Town of Canmore’s arts and culture coordinator, said World Cup organizers wanted a way to not only showcase the picturesque vistas, but also the local arts and culture scene to the esteemed athletes and visitors of both World Cups.

The outdoor art installations also serve as an incentive for spectators to walk to the Canmore Nordic Centre for the World Cup, as spectators must take a shuttle otherwise.

“It’s an invitation to get out in winter – and locals use that trail all the time – but for visitors and athletes, it’s part of their welcome kit, encouraging them to go out and when they have time on their runs, on their skis, whatever they’re doing, they’ll have a chance to take in some artwork,” said Hayduk.

Following the 2.5 kilometres of trail, onlookers can expect to see a variety of three-dimensional art that speaks to a different narrative, whether it’s welcoming the world class athletes, stating the importance of respecting wildlife and community collaboration, among others.

The Town called upon seven artists, Lesley Russell, Michell Atkinson, Tara Vahab, Gordon Wesley, Yaz Baxter, Claudia Weigelsberger and Lindy Pruitt, to create the unique art viewing experience.

“The artists are from Canmore, Calgary and around the Bow Valley, so we’ve got a diversity of different perspectives on art and nature and community,” said Hayduk.

Vahab, whose art is on the Spur Line Trail, has brought a take one, leave one approach to her art, calling it Circles as Communities, as she welcomes viewers to take a tile from her abstract painting and leave behind their own mark of creativity behind the piece.

“I want to welcome the audience to come and take a piece of it and add something to it,” said Vahab.

She unveiled her art to the Howl Experience – a non-profit geared to experiential learning for youth – allowing them to be the first to participate in Vahab’s vision before setting it up on the trail.

“The Howl group is starting that interactive component of the painting, to actually take a piece and leaving their own mark so they’re going to paint some parts of it and that will become the final product,” said Vahab.

“Most of my art really involves inviting people to create something and making creativity more accessible.”

Vahab is also the founder of a Calgary non-profit called the LOUD Art Society, which aims to improve mental health through art.

The last time the Town of Canmore put together the Art Walk in the Woods was in 2020 for the COOP FIS World Cup, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they initially brought the idea to life in 2016, when both cross-country and biathlon World Cup events came to town.

Banff also offers an outdoor art experience in the summer months with its Art in Nature Trail along the Bow River which is set to return July 1.

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