Romancing the Rural on Art Route Blue

NAVIGATING LIFE’S CROSSROADS

Traveling Through the “Art of Life” (Michelle)

Narrative by Lorrie Fleming penned October 19, 2020

            Michelle’s artistic life’s vision over the course of a quarter century has elevated the bloodline of Steinbeck’s Mother Road into a borderless and timeless ‘piece of art’.  In her eloquent words “we are all traveling through the art of life”.  Art Route Blue represents art-in-motion and is defined by Michelle as “wayfinding”, a belief in a doctrine that all travelers hold an inclusive right of passage.  Our mobility may differ by the vehicle driven (whether it be the driver at the wheel, the passenger or remotely navigating by virtual techniques), we are all equally engaged in the biodiversity of life.

            Art & COVID are ironically mutual counterbalances that renders humankind to be inventive by reshaping our world.  The power of art levels the field and draws the landscape into a broadminded ground of passage. “Placing the dots upon the map is much like stringing the pearls on a necklace”, such meaningful words of wisdom voiced by Stacey – A key pillar of Art Route Blue.  Lacing a legacy linked by a connection to culture & creativity straddled along a linear community corridor that depicts both the inner & outer soul of Art Route Blue.

            

As a senior citizen, my experience as a seasoned traveler is tremendously enhanced by the introduction of Art Route Blue injected into my life and becoming a part of something much greater that the journey itself.  Michelle and her creatives coupled with the adept insight of Stacey, collectively carved the cornerstone for a purposeful sense of direction in the manner that we are traveling.  Entertaining an instinct to roam is a quality and a driving force towards a therapeutic escape, a reset button that Art Route Blue generates for a life of mobility throughout the aging process.    

            In life’s mosaic of experiences & events, our greatest asset is the ability to venture beyond the set parameters of the present place and connect to the mystical stories that await between the lines.  Isn’t it ironic that The Artist draws out the words inside the Storyteller…And traveling through the ‘art of life’ is where my personal story shall come alive!  

Moreover, Next Page – Reflections of Trails End 2020 …

An investment in travel is an investment in yourself” ~ A fitting quote by travel blogger Matthew Karsten

AWAYS BE READY TO GO SOMEWHERE…

                        Seasons drastically change, and no matter how we try to resist, the prolonged Canadian winter is creeping upon us as the calendar turns.  Our annual September summer’s end RV road trip has faded into our rear view.  However, the memories remain to be ‘on a roll’ within the places and the faces of the people who are holding on tightly to the bounty of nature. Recreational activity (cycling & hiking) lead to a bevy of outdoor patios at cafes, coffee shops & roadhouses that serve and carry an energetic vibe.  Coffee is becoming a tasteful artwork, steeped with sweet conversation, and lightly sprinkled with a touch of soulful inspiration. These eateries along the roadbed are a lifeline for travelers, a place to share a homelike meal and recharge the energy for the ride back to camp.     Notwithstanding the boutiques & art galleries that instill the culture into the communities, adding value and balance into the art of ‘retail therapy’!  

            Traversing the lush sun kissed Okanagan Valley eastward along the Crowsnest Highway #3 through to the golden boundary country that transitions into the untouched splendor of the Kootenay Region.  Hospitality is an endless component here as history unfolds into the downtown Main Streets that characterize each township where linear communities are threaded into the local culture & folklore to meet & greet travelers as welcome guests.   

              On these dark days of autumn, I simply open my closet and a light reaches out to seemingly stitch the threads together into a dance set to a rhythm of time travel.   A fashionable sense of preparatory direction gives me the tools to enter a world of greatness, dressed to conquer and be transported to incredible places, for a glimpse just for a moment in the ‘corners of my mind’!   Armed with an inherent desire to travel draws an extended purpose for me to meet & greet like-minded folks who await along this hopeful journey.  Yes indeed, my readiness to travel is a sense of empowerment that’s reflected deeply into the ‘people, place & planet’ ingrained within my inner soul.   

            In closing, preparation for springtime is a new beginning of life on the road.  My passion for travel begins in my closet, a hemline of anticipation to find the perfect accessory for the new road ahead.  So, here’s to my fellow roadies, gather your travel ‘wish list’, pack for all seasons, fasten the seat belt, tighten the hat strap, and roll down the windows in pursuit of a sweet ride to somewhere else.  Feel the wanderlust and get ready to soak up new cultures for a pilgrimage of travel by the will of your heart. 

Excerpts of a Seasoned Traveler.

Lorrie,

Featured

“THE SUNFLOWER PROJECT” Community Art Trail on AR:T ROUTE BLUE

AR:T ROUTE GOLD

My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back. Louis Riel

www.thesunflowerproject.ca

A multi community art in action call out to create environmental pubic art plantings and physical art around British Columbia. This project has deep roots in a mural created as a tribute to Loughery’s interned immigrant great-grandparents. The collaboration of many artists and organizations, this project will support small businesses, artists, communities, youth and elders. Like all of Loughery’s projects, this one will engage all, in an art and tourism in action model, that is inclusive to all.

The AR:T ROUTE BLUE ARTIST COLLECTIVE consists of many internationally renowned artists. The group is creating a route of large pieces of public art made from repurposed satellite dishes. The art will be part of a sunflower annual seed planting that to date more than 250,000 seeds have been distributed. All these annual seeds were gifted by Secret Gardens Farm in Spences Bridge, BC and Woodys Pub in Winfield,BC.

The project is being kicked off out of the region of Gold Country, in a partnership with Explore Gold Country, in the reimagining of renewal tourism through a WAYFINDER RURAL CREATES MODEL Loughery created through her work. The kickoff tour is starting in the Thompson to Okanagan areas and has already peaked interest from other areas and countries.

Mile 0 is the kick off in Cache Creek as together the groups #BlossomBC in a #seeds4tomorrow campaign that will create a rural #artroute to support safe travel and support artists and non profits as we support a people, place and plant first recovery.

Loughery has a history of using debris as part of her projects, as in the Canada 150 Ocean Bouy project. This time old satellite dishes and fire debris from the area will be included in the art installations.

HISTORY and Covid…talking to the Sunflowers

Loughery created the concept for this trail in 2013 in the hope to create an artistic conversation story telling project that will pay tribute to all the immigrant nationalities that built the infrastructure of Canada. A mural was created in Vernon BC, telling the story of World War One Internment in Canada of her Ukraine heritage. The project was in partnership with the City of Vernon and the World War One Internment Recognition Fund. The hope of the art was to support examining the past wrongs, while creating a place path to do right. A place of human striving to become better citizens, individuals and build human potential.

COVID and Internment

As Covid19 and the anniversary of the 100 year anniversary of freedom from the Canadian camps happened at the same time. It came to Loughery that the opportunity for people to understand loss of freedoms, was a prevalent opportunity to examine the past to support learning to renewed humanity learning. As she spoke to her internee descendant mother, who was locked in her home, stories about the past led to the sunflower again.

Loughery’s words on why the Russian Mammoth Sunflower.

As the anniversary of 100 years of freedom for the immigrants that came to Canada during World War One, I can not help by sit here in a time warp of stories. Talking to my mother and mother in law who speak of the time of hardship, and cold hearts and hands while recovery from war and economic shortages; to hearing the fear in my children and their generation face economic threats that they have never witnessed.

Time travel exists. It is being a witness to more than one generation at a time, and trying to connect the wisdom to the earnestness. I hear my Baba and my Guido, my scottish grandmother, and my Czech grandfather. They are talking. I hear my mother and my father and my aunts and uncles. I hear the music played, the foods served, and the tough ethics of life instilled. I have strong immigrant roots. My family worked on highways and worked underground, they built community and they lay those they loved to rest. Most of all they taught me to listen to the Sunflowers. And that means listen to your elders and place light on your children to grow.

Why do I pick the Russian Mammoth sunflower as one of the sunflower variety to grow for the sunflower project? Because of the fact it grows the most food. And because of course it is the large mural flower. There will be many other varieties, paint strokes of inclusion.

The sunflower is indigenous to North America. Peter the Great took the seeds to Ukraine and Russia to build a new economy when the rape seed failed. It is interesting that we are bringing the potential of the seed back to North America as we as artists support a renewed social economy.

As the sunflower is strong, we too as people are strong. We all come from deep roots and like the flower it takes a strong stem and a travellers soul to brave change.

Follow as we create plantings and art installations on large satellite dishes Let’s talk about the journey of all the past sunflowers and if you look, be still and hear….you too will hear the sunflowers talk and lead a recovery of people place and planet.

love light and sunflowers ……Michelle

follow the sunflowers at http://www.michelleloughery.org

AR:T ROUTE CANADA

SISTERS OF THE MOTHER ROAD

A SALUTE TO EXPLORE GOLD COUNTRY TO HONOR OUR LINEAR COMMUNITIES

Penned by Lorrie Fleming April 27, 2020

            As the world struggles with climate change, economic adversity and the silent enemy of the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity awaits to reconnect, as social distancing becomes a distant point in time.

            Recently, I shared a surprising & joyful conversation with Cathryn Wilson, of the BC Achievement Foundation, to relay news of my nomination for a Community Award; and it still seems surreal!    In that regard, I am equally humbled, honored and overcome by a feeling that I have reached a juncture along this epic journey to unite the ‘Mother Road’ with BC’s ‘Gold Rush Road’.  An International Art Gateway Project envisioned & created by Master Muralist Michael Loughery is being considered to connect Rural BC along a borderless & cultural journey.  This would include portions of the TCH #1 and [Route 66, 97 & 99] adjoined as one linear community.  

            I remain speechless!  “Sometimes historic paths aren’t discovered until they’re lost”!   Such meaningful words of wisdom notated by a fellow Route 66 aficionado (Anthony Arno).  In my viewpoint of traveling on a road for so long, daylight fades into sunset; and you find yourself following headlights into the unknown.  Somewhere along the way dawns new light cast by living angels to guide us back on track.  I’m referring to my “Sisters of the Mother Road” (Michelle & Stacey creators of ‘Art Route Blue’ and Marcie & her team at ‘Explore Gold Country’).  Special acknowledgement is directed to folks like Steve & Paulette Rice, proprietors of the Historic Packinghouse Eatery, who meet & greet hungry travelers embarking on a scenic journey along an original portion of TCH roadway in Spences Bridge!

            A renown writer quoted “Not all those who wander are lost”; and I believe that we’re all just searching for a new path worth traveling!   Perhaps it’s passion that drives us to find a special place on the road.  Speaking of myself, I can neither sing, dance nor draw, but somehow the people that crossed my path (namely Michelle & Her Creatives) collectively transfer passion into energy driven by the perpetual Power of Art!  Therein lies a permanent bond to greet travelers by painted walls and voice over techniques hearing storytellers that awaken our spirits along a linear community linked by a connective corridor of neighborhoods, families and friendships.    

            Together, we’re traveling in the same direction guided by the power of passion, people & planet.  In an uplifting transformation, the ‘Mother Road meets the Mother Lode’ and we become a family.  Travel the road slowly, stop or stay to live & learn and cross the bridge of knowledge that connects the urban & rural.  Our Ancestors shall rise and show us the way… “Wisdom is the Sunlight of the Soul”! 

A lost road will remember your footsteps, for someday you may wish to return to trace the way

{Quote by Munia Khan}

BLUE UPDATE

AR:T ROUTE BLUE has legs and roots..

I have a vision. One that has consumed me for so long. The connection of people and communities under one thread. A piece of thread that we can all hold on to. The highways unite us all. Animals, and people have traversed those highways or paths form centuries. The very land making the wayfinder lines and the valleys and water the places that hold our dreams and our steps. I am always humbled by the stories of the immigrants that I am so proud to be a person molded by. Those stories are like threads. Strong and visions of places and times that my eyes have never seen. But they are as real and defining as my own experiences. This is the bridge of time that each one of us hold. The connection of the generations and why elders are so important. I am a grandmother. I love the art of being a grandmother. My grandchildren are portals to my own children, yet also a mirror of myself and a look back at those I never met. The DNA in all of us is a tapestry. It is the life line to the future. AR:T Route blue has been a long journey. It is hard to explain what it is. Many may think it is an art route. Many think it is a blog. Many think it is something that a crazy artist is pushing that makes no sense. But it is a vision. It is building something that will connect us to each other and to the creative skills that exist in everyone of us. And it is the space. The space that lives between each one of us. I met a wonderful new artist from Ashcroft this week. Marina and I were speaking about the blue and Marina sees artist copyright is like water.

Art is for everyone. You can own water rights..but you never own the water…only the creator can. And in that conversation and connection I realized that the blue is vital to us connecting through creative thought and the thread that brings us all together…..the blue is a thread that is making its way and I am again humbled by the journey. Grateful in Blue- Michelle The Blue Wayfinder