Art and beauty comes in many forms, including the natural and the handmade , and there’s no reason why, when admiring one, you cannot enjoy the other. And there is no reason that our modern cave masterpieces should not be showcased as invitations for the globe to visit and meander along our highways. The bonus is that travellers can fill the art stops in with small business and community events along the way. Connecting our communities makes sense. Like a giant story book. And it makes more sense if a highway art project like ART ROUTE BLUE is launched with artists and grassroots communities. To keep the jobs, make connections and bring the creative economy to the rural communities and keep our young people talking to the elders. This is a people up road trip. The Canadian Version of ROUTE 66. This art trip is long standing in its vision. Held dear by many and led by Queen of the Road Lorrie Flemming. I am just the conductor and the painter who got to paint way before murals became the explosion of trend that are now. Or maybe these modern cave drawings have always been a huge part of the education and history making of the stories of the people and of nature as we all ride the highway of life. Our Destination Mural Town Art Route is a global grid. It has many more layers to unravel and we are excited as many are using the model to bring Destination ART Routes to their regions. There is blue on those walls though! And the blue beings to the hands of the artists, the visionaries and the first people that have shared fire stories since time began. AR:T ROUTE BLUE details great work across the globe. Some of these artworks are showcased in outdoor settings, others however, are set amidst the most beautiful scenery. Take a look and see community social economics through a new lens. With a content building economy made strong by keeping the people in that system. Our stories are our art and our towns the fires that warm the rural earth. We have made ground at AR:T Route Blue. Destination Mural Town has many tourism organizations and communities abuzz. Destination Routes have been growing in rail and nature trails. Art walks have been around forever and people love to stroll through the streets seeking local treasures. But this AR:T Route is unique as the team of Blue are also trainers, educators, creators, builders, healers, connectors, first responders, homeless, nature protectors, storytellers, painters, sculptors, carvers, singers, youth, elders and all first people from the globe. This is community building from a place of renewal to reimagining. A new form of muraltourism. A content creating system that keeps the content with the creators and the power of all horses in front of one cart. The blue is the stories of many, in a place of global connection, to a system that keeps people and nature connected. Now that is reachable tourism and community economics.
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
G’Day, My Sister Travelers:
As I sit here now in the wrath of a midland storm awaiting the power to kick in; I contemplate the journey that lies ahead.
Shifting our direction along this course as the wind changes direction, does not mean we’ve lost the will to move forward…
Seemingly, we fall victim of our success, as progress forces us to embrace challenges and shift gears.
Notwithstanding change, I truly believe that going back to our roots is the force that grounds us to rise above, to reach even higher sources of power.
The thought of the ‘Old Gold Rush Road’ connecting ‘The Mother Road’ hits directly home 🏡 for me. And the fear of missing an opportunity to ‘thread the needle’ on this ribbon of road may [at times] seem out of reach.
However, As I recapture my thoughts, I see myself (not lost, but found) along a discovery detour in the spotlight of spectacular scenery that becomes anew with every mile forging through this new road.
May our journey continue and carry us to new heights, keeping our legacy relevant & vibrant by building unbreakable bonds in this galvanized chain of heritage highways.
As true ”Wayfinders”, Our goal is to rise and lift others whom we meet along this pathway!
Staying on Course
Hello from Trails End…
Leaving our last campsite here in the Coldstream Valley perched high on the hillside that overlooks the radiantly beautiful Kalamalka Lake!
The views up here are stunning and this magnificent area is truly difficult to leave behind in our rear view.
Going ‘back to reality’ heading homeward, we’re stopped for a rest at Juniper Beach’ along the banks of the Thompson River, west of Kamloops Lake. How blessed we are to witness the landscape unfold in a kaleidoscope of colors. From red apples 🍎 to pumpkins 🎃 of brilliant orange, nature’s bounty speaks volumes as Autumn settles into brilliant hues.
So long for now my special comrades, we shall meet again soon ‘down destiny’s road’!
Rural ROUTES Rider
No matter what road life takes you, it truly is the people along the way that are the paint strokes in the canvas of your life. As an artist that traveled the world I have met many many faces. This picture is of a wonderful young man that worked so hard for the Merritt crew. His story was his to tell and he honoured us with parts of it. He shared his dreams and we shared wisdoms to support those dreams. But this young man taught me resilience and silent strength. He was turned away from the care that is his right to receive when he hurt himself during a young rowdy weekend. He bandaged his hand and he came to work on the murals. Not a word was said by him.
When we realized he did not get a response to his visit to the clinic, a colourful paint spattered group went marching into that clinic demanding not to quietly his right to care. You see this young man wanted to be a carpenter and his hand is is tool, his talent and his livelihood. Yes we were muralists, but more we were family.
Tourism is not exclusively an economic movement, it also involves social, cultural, political and environmental aspects. It is important to realize that any assessment of tourism impacts should not only be concerned with the tangible economic effects such as revenue and foreign exchange earnings, but also with non-economic and intangible effects, such as social and cultural ones. Route Blue is part of this movement , and has been an innovation that has a 30 year history of social economic growth globally. Mural Art is a generator and sense of place with layer of opportunity to engage, educate, preserve and promote humanity, environment and social change and the healthy collective life of community.
The showcasing of life through creative expressions, traditional ceremonies, traditions and community organizations. Mural story art and the social economic return on investment, through the tourism tool they are, have effects on the people of host communities in direct and indirect associations with tourists. The power of the Large Art, in the layers of tourism development is a huge and continually transforming tourism social economic movement. Route Blue ArtCONNX has deep roots in the modern movement, with ancient roots, in talent based generational applied arts learning.
To teach and build community in Art in Action, ARTCONNX, and RURAL CREATES Tourism..which does build community, mental health and prosperity for all.
The socio-cultural effects of applied art tourism are difficult to measure, and to a large extent are indirect, or even unknown. The majority of the studies undertaken until now in this area, were mainly concerned with understanding the social impacts on the host societies, rather than the impacts on the tourists themselves. Route Blue has many impact studies on the projects and socio- economics of the philosophy. The use of applied mural art in rural community building for 30 years, in skills knowledge building in youth and in tourism impact, sit in boxes of files waiting to be calculated and studied. The story waiting to be shared, and in the very act of sharing this very successful partnership consortium model, that includes artists, youth and non profit as the new 3 to the P3 of community building. stay tuned as we dig out files and as all Michelle Loughery Projects occur, will be through ART in ACTION..through WAYFINDER learning and the new ROUTE BLUE LEGACY project..is at the starting gate…let the horses run
There are many people that have touched the path of the start of Route Blue. Many that offered support, mentorship and grace. One of the strongest forces of the Wayfinder path to Route Blue is a women named Jennifer Law Conkie. Michelle and J, as Michelle loves to call her, met after a phone call with CBC Arts Host Paul Grant in which Paul suggested that Michelle call her. Paul and Michelle were discussing the success of the Vernon and Merritt projects, and about her recent art project in New York City.
In Michelle’s words.
I was telling Paul how much the youth were loving being involved in the art and being part of the community. Paul was a wonderful connection and he was excited to talk about CBC Art spot and how murals with youth skills and employment should be everywhere. I was telling him how much I agreed and how some of the business side seemed daunting at times. I remember after the animated conversation, Paul said, “Michelle, you are a dolphin, swimming amongst sharks!”
You need to call this woman I know. She is a lawyer in Vancouver. She is brilliant and honest and she can help you.”
I called her and to make a long story short. Jennifer changed my life. As a mentor she was tough and direct and taught me so much. A gorgeous celtic woman with the most beautiful eyes. She traded her work for mine, and I was honoured to be valued. My journey with Jennifer and Wayfinder spanned over several years. And this will unravel as Route Blue moves along the highways. But Jennifer taught me many things. She taught me to tap my hand to keep calm and she taught me a lady always knows when to leave. She is a true feminist and a brilliant writer. Jennifer is a blue horse. And my journey and time with her created Wayfinder and my charity and so much more.