I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

By Bob Turner

I must admit that although I was looking forward to the  July 22, 2018 Garden and Art Tour, I was a bit skeptical of the potential success of such an event. I am happy to report that I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!

Pottery by John Valentine
Pottery by John Valentine

To say the first annual Red River North Tourism Garden and Art Tour was a success would be an understatement. Does it have a promising future? YOU BET!!

A couple of hundred visitors enjoyed a self-guided tour of seven properties and a market garden, as well as a chainsaw sculpture demonstration at the waterfront. As a newer resident of the area, I was provided an opportunity to see some beautifully-kept yards and gardens, as well as being offered a glimpse of some of the amazing artistic talent in the area.

Jewellery and Paintings at Gaynor Family Library
Jewellery and Paintings at Gaynor Family Library

It is impossible to describe in words, the many beautiful yards that are the results of hours of hard work and careful attention. These properties are truly something to behold.

The artists involved in the event displayed a wide range of talents: photography, painting – oil, watercolour, and acrylic, jewellery-making, glasswork, pottery, woodworking, barn quilting, rug hooking, quilting, metal sculpture, and chainsaw sculpture.

The yard at Cocleugh House
The yard at Cocleugh House

We visited with Christine Wasnie, painter and author, and Johanna Vrienten, an accomplished oil painter, and talked with Gail Penner, while admiring her jewellery and photography. We were wowed by the beautiful gardens and yard at Colcleugh House.

We were entertained by 15 year-old flutist, Sophie, with beautiful renditions of Abba’s “I Have  A Dream”, and “S.O.S.”. We watched Mary Thomas demonstrate rug-hooking, an art that she will be demonstrating this November at Holiday Alley. Which presents me with a perfect opportunity to remind everyone to mark November 30thand December 1st  on your calendars. That’s when this year’s Holiday Alley will be held. After last year’s success, I need say no more at this time, and I am certain many will be recording the date.

Have you heard of barn quilting?

Wooden horses at Yurkiw's
Wooden horses at Yurkiw’s

A barn quilt is a large piece of wood painted to look like a block or square in a quilt. Originating in the U.S. the craft has spread to Canada, and visitors to the yard of Maurice Yurkiw were treated to a display by Donna Kerns and Bonnie Dykes, whoare members of theInterlake Barn Quilt Trail.

What is a quilt trail, you ask? It is an accumulation of many barn quilts that are mapped together and visited. Those following along the trail receive a map with all of the locations marked, and viewers drive through the countryside to see all of the blocks.

In theage is just a number” department:

A few of the displays at Evergreen Gates
A few of the displays at Evergreen Gates

At Evergreen Gate I talked with Janet Cruse, a lady who proudly informed me that as of last year, she designs her hand-made jewellery on a three-dimensional computer program. “Why should age be a barrier?” she asked. Why, indeed! I found her self-confidence and adventurous spirit a real inspiration! And, as the old saying goes:  “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”; her jewellery was dazzling and creative, to say the least.

I took a turn, along with two other fellows, accompanying Russ Kubara at the Selkirk Waterfront. Russ is an artist who sculpures wood with chainsaws, performing the fine finishing with smaller wood-smoothing devices suited to the task.

Chainsaw Mastery
Chainsaw mastery

An artist with a chainsaw?

Yes, indeed!! Over a span of six hours, with dozens of “time-outs” to answer questions from the many visitors, Russ turned an ordinary piece of log into a pelican standing on a base. To say that he is amazing is an understatement. Although he modestly told me anyone could learn to do it, only a highly creative individual could look at a chunk of log, and know where to start lopping off  pieces with a chainsaw.

He uses several chainsaws, varying in size and shape, each ideal for a certain task. And little by little, the woodchips dropped off, the sawdust flew, and a work of art appeared. This was a true “Selkirk Chainsaw Masterpiece”.

I have attempted to touch on some of the highlights of my abbreviated version of the tour. Apologies to the many talented artists I have not mentioned, and also to the yards and gardens I was unable to get to because of time constraints. Oh well, next year! And I know THERE WILL BE A NEXT YEAR!!

The 2018 Garden and Art Tour, an event that proves:

Whatever the season,
There’s always a reason,
To spend time in Red River North.