Joy Barrett has had a long career in arts administration. She’s worked at the world-famous Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, at the Calgary Centre of Performing Arts, and as the cultural ambassador for Nelson, British Columbia. Today, she has one of the most important jobs in Castlegar: curating the annual event that is responsible for the city now being known as the “Sculpture Capital of Canada.”
We recently chatted with Joy to learn more about Sculpture Walk and it’s impact on local artists and visitors.
Hi Joy. Thanks for speaking with us today. Tell us about the history of Sculpture Walk.
Sure. It began with Pat Field, who’s a local artist, and he had taken one of his pieces to the Sculpture Walk in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That city is kind of like Calgary in that there’s a sprawling suburb and so to help revitalize their downtown core, they decided to populate it with different sculptures every year that people could make a point of going to see. It would increase foot traffic and help local artists. That was around 2000 and it’s been super successful. Pat came back to the city of Castlegar and presented a similar idea and four years ago the Castelgar Sculpture Walk was born.
How has the event grown over the years?
Before we started there were maybe two public pieces in Castlegar and now there are over 50… As part of the program we have 30 sculptures on display around Castlegar’s downtown. They go up in May and one of the best parts about the event is the community can vote on which ones they like best. The ballots are counted in October and the winner is purchased by the City to remain on display.
Where do the artists hail from?
Probably about two-thirds of the artists are Canadian and some are from right here in the Kootenays. Some also come up from the Sioux Falls event…But we’re getting more and more applications each year, some from as far away as Iran and Russia.
Tell us about one of the local artists.
There’s a great story about a local carpenter Peter Wulowka of Raccoon Specialize Carpentry who was so inspired by what he saw in the Sculpture Walk he decided to put in an entry. He had never done anything like this before but our jury panel loved it and accepted it. It is a wooden bench with a large maple leaf covering it called, “Maple Relief” and it’s one of the most popular we’ve ever had!