Spring Creek is short as far as creeks go.
The spring-fed creek begins just east of Sixth Avenue and flows to the end of Spring Creek Mountain Village (SCMV) where it joins Policeman’s Creek. From there the water from the two creeks flows into the Bow River.
While it may be short, Spring Creek holds a prominent place in Canmore’s identity and as part of that, the creek is important to many people for many different reasons.
For Patti Dyment, a 27-year resident of first Restwell Trailer Park and now SCMV, and Melanie Aikenhead of Calgary, their current painting exhibition Spring Creek Muse is an opportunity to share why the creek and its surroundings are important to them.
As a long-term resident, Dyment has had a lifetime to absorb the views, while Aikenhead has come at it with fresh eyes, but even so, between the two of them, they’ve barely touched the subject.
“There’s so much to explore in this area,” Dyment said. “We haven’t begun to scratch the surface of what is visibly possible. In the creek alone, it’s a beautiful setting to look at. The backdrop and foreground are perfect together.”
While Dyment has a powerful attachment to Spring Creek, it obviously resonated with Aikenhead as well. Her paintings of the older trailers juxtaposed against the Rocky Mountains of the Bow Valley are beautiful and sensitive as they serve to remind us that many people still call the trailer park home.
Dyment first proposed the idea for the show to Edge Gallery owners Dave and Kathy Foxcroft in January and, knowing Aikenhead’s approach of mixing the manufactured with the natural elements of a location, they invited her to participate in the show, in the process creating, as Dyment said, a counter-point to her more traditional landscape and figurative work.
As a result, the two artists have used the differences in their work and their subjects to strengthen the overall show, creating one unified body of work.
Where Dyment focused on the creek’s natural setting and paintings of children enjoying the creek and its environs, Aikenhead was drawn to the trailers and what was left of the original Restwell Trailer Park as a place where people live and go about their lives.
“I was struck by the trailer park where there is a baseball net and having the mountains around you. That is unusual for me to have that surrounding. I was struck by that, the day-to-day living with the mountains as an integral part of everyone’s life here,” Aikenhead said.
And where Dyment is not going anywhere and plans to continue to paint Spring Creek, along with the rest of the Bow Valley region, Aikenhead, after discovering this hidden gem, plans to come back.
“Usually when I start with a location I bounce between. I rarely work in a place and not come back to it,” she said.
And that, Dyment said, is the point of Spring Creek Muse.
Spring Creek is a small area geographically, but with it comes a rich visual story, just as the old, established neighbourhoods of Vancouver and Calgary do.
“That’s part of the point. Any small area has an incredible richness and beauty to explore,” Dyment said.
And that, as does Spring Creek Muse, reminds us Spring Creek is still a calm, beautiful place that is both inviting and welcoming.
Dyment will be at The Edge Gallery Saturday, Sept. 10, from 1-2:30 p.m. for a painting demonstration.
Spring Creek Muse closes on Sept. 20.