Words by Rob Buchanan, BC Culture Days Ambassador (Revelstoke, BC)
What do you get when you combine a welder, a sculptor, a carpenter, a bike mechanic, a gathering of 350 school children from Kindergarten to grade 12, some teachers, parents, community businesses, a structural engineer, actors, dancers, computer techno-whizzes, an excavator operator, film students, a Juno-nominated Indigenous cellist and a drumming D.J. who can make a sidewalk dance? The answer is the Luna Art Festival in Revelstoke, BC!
A nocturnal event of Art and Wonder, Luna is a fusion of kinetic sculpture, light projection, art installations, painting, music, live theatre and performance art. But it is also a truly inspiring place for collective collaboration. As a BC Culture Days Ambassador, one of my core responsibilities includes networking and mobilizing - to try to inspire greater public appreciation and participation in arts, culture and heritage at a community level. Many of the 35+ art installations at Luna are "made-in-Revelstoke". They are the results of backyard scheming and bringing many people with many different skills together. To me, this act of collaboration is nothing short of magic.
As a professional artist and one of the organizers of this free and inclusive festival, my job is to plant ideas with potential creators and unite people that I think will work well together. I provide technical help to structural questions, guide people to recognize their creative potential, and work directly with several teams to make contemporary art. Sound easy? Ha - it's important to remember that most of these art pieces start out as daydreams and have never been made before. There are no templates. Every project has many challenges that can only be solved by blending the thoughts and inter-disciplinary skills of many people. Everyone needs to work together. And this is where the fun begins.
At times I feel like a construction manager on a new building project in Dr. Seuss' Whoville. Nothing is standard. Questions and issues - like how much power does a Bubble King 4000 draw from the city grid - defy the norm. Does the temporary stage need railings even though the performers are on stilts? Can I move a giant spider web on a snowmobile trailer? Are the manufactured snowflakes edible? Will 30 feet of mirrors fit into a secret alley? What sort of rules should I set on the teenagers piloting the helium-filled clown-fish drones? Can the graffiti artist spray paint near a restaurant? Can we put the life-size hungry-looking grizzly bear sculpture made from recycled bike tires near the kindergarten class's salmon sculptures? How much wind loading will the suspended fishnet octopus have on the wall anchors? And what is our contingency plan if the streaker from last year returns?
All these questions and many more are often solved with an open mind and a sense of humour. As one of my most trusted contributors always reminds me - "if you can't use common sense, use uncommon sense." And when we embrace this philosophy, the impractical becomes possible. All ideas are respected. Clear lines of communication are developed. Collaborators inspire one another and together, these creators begin to truly think outside of the box. Bottlecaps become mountains. Bicycles become kaleidoscopes. Chairlifts become rickshaws. Windows become puppet shows. Stairs become stages. Buildings become screens. Sidewalks become art galleries. And an entire community comes out to celebrate the art that we collectively created.
Rob Buchanan is an award-winning professional photographer, artist, designer & editorial cartoonist based in Revelstoke, BC.
Follow him on instagram @buchananstudio3
Check out Revelstoke’s Luna Art Fest at revelstokeartgallery.ca/luna/
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