CANMORE – Shining a light on an often-overlooked area in Canmore, a group of creators will be opening their doors for the Artists of Elk Run eighth annual Studio Tour this weekend.
Guests will be able to explore Canmore’s industrial east end to watch demonstrations, meet artists and shop for original locally made art pieces, artist Peig Abbott said.
“We’re putting our blood, sweat and tears into bringing people here,” she said. “We wanted to bring people to this side of Canmore to realize that it’s a bit of an artist hub.”
Abbott will be showcasing her studio Peig Abbott Sculpture for the Artists of Elk Run Studio Tour.
Elk Run is the “quiet” side of town, Abbott said, explaining she and other artists have joined forces to help promote and advocate for the area.
The Artists of Elk Run Tour has grown in popularity over the years, Abbott said, drawing locals and tourists to the annual celebration.
“It just before Christmas so people have gifts on their mind and wanting to explore what's out there,” Abbott said. “It’s really original gifts for people.”
A highlight of the tour is when they get new guests who have never attended the event.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Abbott said. “It’s fun because they’re out exploring the diversity of what we offer – the artists of Elk Run is a really diverse crew of artists.”
Specialties showcased during the event include stone carving, sculpture, pottery, glass blowing, printmaking, photography and everything in between.
Abbott added it is exciting being able to demonstrate how art pieces are created because it is a rare experience for people to come into an artist’s studio and see them creating a work first-hand.
“It’s kind of fun because a lot of people are super, super stoked about coming to hang out, chat and see the demos,” she said. “It’s awesome getting to know people and getting to share my passion with them and understand what brought them here in through the doors.”
Participating studios this year include: Of Cabbages and Kings Pottery, Tony Bloom Studios, Rudi Feet Goldsmith, Fireweed Glass Studio, Alexis McKeown Portrait, Kari Woo Contemporary Art Jewelry, Kathryn Cooke Blue Eyes Studio and Studio 209.
It is a unique experience for many artists, Abbott said, because they primarily spend their time working alone in their studios.
Abbot, a stone carver and sculptor, is typically solitary in the way she creates, entering into her studio – “the cave” – and immersing herself in the process of creation, hammer and chisel in hand.
“To be able to talk about my process, it’s using that different part of your brain to be able to formulate into words what isn’t accessible mostly."
The tour has changed since its inception eight years ago, Abbott said, as more studios have joined the collective and other businesses including Sheepdog Brewing, Wild Life Distillery, Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters and Blue Lakes Floral Design have become involved.
“They open their doors and celebrate being a part of this great thing,” she said. "It’s not just the artist's hub, it’s the community here in Elk Run that really benefits – people are walking around and exploring what’s here.”
Welcoming guests to come and explore Blue Eyes Studio, Kathryn Cooke will be sharing the space where she creates works of art during the tour. Cooke has been working in the Elk Run area since 2015, exploring the process of drawing, painting and textiles.
It is an amazing opportunity being able to share the “passions of her heart” during the tour, Cooke said, adding that she will have a table on display she is hoping guests will fill in with their creations using soft pastel and their imagination.
“They can cover it however they want,” she said with a grin. “It’s community graffiti – I think it will look great.”
It is an incredible opportunity getting to look at and potentially purchase pieces in the presence of artists, Cooke said, because guests will be able to chat and learn about what inspired work and the process behind it.
“An artist is a vital entity of our culture, is a vital entity of a community. In a way, we’re creating visual documentation of our times.”
She said it is a great experience being able to add that depth to art for guests and explain the meaning embedded in her art.
Canmore boasts a rich community of talent working in Elk Run, Cooke said, and the studio tour serves as the perfect opportunity to encourage residents and visitors to explore the area and connect with artists.
“It’s helping to build the Elk Run area as a destination spot,” she said. “There are a number of really, really amazing artists that have studios here ≠ there’s this presence that’s starting to build.”
The eighth annual Artists of Elk Run Studio Tour will be taking place on Saturday (Dec. 7) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday (Dec. 8) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit artistsofelkrun.com for more information.