TRANSFORMING OUR HERITAGE HIGHWAYS INTO ART ROUTES

RIVERS-TO-ROADS -TO SCAFFOLDS

Interweaving Threads of Color into the Strands of our Transportation Corridor

Narrative by Lorrie Fleming Penned on December 12, 2020

Inspired by a conversation with Master Muralist, Michelle Loughery

            A new generation of trail blazers are geared up and ready to hit the road, headed for an optimistic journey as the Coronavirus fades into our rear view.  Meanwhile, a new horizon for humankind is being cast on a transportation canvass envisioned by Humanitarian & The Master of Arts, Michelle!  The next step for the Art Route Blue framework is to create a Heritage Highway Recognition Plan and to form an Advisory Committee to work collaboratively in a consortium of partners to cultivate a means to restore the spirits of people, place & planet.  

            Our first pathways of mobility emerged via rivers & waterways connecting early travelers into a landscape of vast terrain that our ancestral pioneers forged initiating a network of trails to open passageways for human navigation.  As the advancement of human travel evolved, our trails developed into rail systems, interspersed with roadways that became highways of a transverse transportation system. 

            Culture & Art changes the face of our civilization; and our roadways & crossroads are the conduit for ancestral history keepers to showcase the founders & pioneers who built our roads and opened new gates to serve the settlements of homesteaders to outreach an immense landscape.  A new horizon is being sculpted to honor the enormous strides of stalwart champions of society and to acknowledge their efforts by transforming the future through visual arts & brush strokes depicting our multifaceted heritage.     

            In our multicultural and distinct society, we are people of many colors, graced by a multitude of vibrant tones and shades of diversity.  As a non-artist, my personal connection to Michelle runs deep, flowing like a river that culminated at the Heart of the Mother Road.  As I traveled on the road, Michelle was high overhead on a scaffold creating the first official Route 66 Mural City in Cuba, Missouri, in 2002.  Painted images that touch the hearts of the townsfolk [The Gold Star Boys aboard the Blue Bonnet Train] depicts the town’s homegrown heroes as they left their home to serve in WWI.     

            Today, in an era of the excessively rushed pace of people {in a hurry to multitask & reach unduly goals}, the time is right to reconnect and reset the inner soul of humanity.  To focus our sights on a sense of shared societal culture in harmony with a lifeline of art spliced into the initiative of Michelle’s Art Route Blue corridor, pumping new life into an upcoming generation of travelers.   Out-of-the Blue appears a beacon of light in pursuit of a beloved Blue Horse (a mythical symbol of hope) and a stabilizer for to all humanity to reach a base of solid ground in this time of global uncertainty.  May we sharply turn towards a Highway of Hope and meet each other on Main Street for a cup of tasty tea!

“If your heart is broken, make Art with the pieces” 

Quote by Shane Koyczan – Canadian Poet & Writer

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

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.

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

Lorrie the Highway Mentor

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!

Love Lorrie
Staying on Course

#ARTROUTE VERNON

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’!

Love Lorrie
Rural ROUTES Rider

The faces of the people

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.

2018 ROUTE BLUE and Michelle Loughery Murals

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

#RouteBlue Women

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.