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Banff artist's sidewalk art draws from local inspiration

"It's kind of what Banff looks like in my mind."

BANFF – Artist Elise Findlay's latest work reflects vision of what once was in the mountain town she grew up in – Banff.

As Banff starts slowly opening its doors to the public amid the COVID-19 crisis, curious walkers along Bow Avenue's riverside pathway may have noticed a colourful eight-by-four-foot painting coming to life over the past few weeks.

As many creative technicians have been masterfully crafting their art hidden away inside homes and studios during this time, the local artist is showcasing her piece out in the open until Sunday (June 14), which addresses the theme of "How art, craft and design enrich Alberta’s creative communities and economies after the COVID-19 pandemic?"

“Since the pandemic hit, it’s been interesting to see the ways of how arts and creativity played a much bigger role in our daily lives,” Findlay said. “It’s thinking about how art impacts our economies and the role art and artists play in the economy and then how things can change moving forward, really.”

Findlay received one of 15 $1,500 scholarships from the Alberta University of the Arts, created this year in response to the COVID-19 crisis for loss of summer and part-time employment for students to pursue a project with a research focus.

When watching elk cross the Bow River in large numbers and a heightened presence of wildlife in her backyard, Findlay chose to do a “memoryscape” of Banff, integrating memories of the national park into her painting and using oil based chalk and house paint on the open canvas. Since most of the world went into isolation, including in Banff, the art piece looks at patterns of movement, for wildlife and human, and how it's changed and how things might change in the future.

“It is Banff, but it’s Banff the way I think about it. I’ve used some visual images so people will be able to recognize like Tunnel and Rundle and a touch of Cascade [mountains],” she said. “I put down patterns of movement, so looking at the way animals would move throughout the valley and at how snow would cling to certain surfaces, and the way light falls depending on the time of day.

"It's kind of what Banff looks like in my mind."

Findlay actively engages with the public stumbling upon the project, hoping to start a conversation about the change in the national park.

For more information on the project or to see when Findlay will be out painting next, visit BanffStudios on Instagram.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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