Public Art is a Visual Love Letter to the Village of Salmo
The rivers, mountains, and trails around Salmo are irresistible to residents and visitors alike. The natural surroundings have long been an inspiration for local artists, including Tia Reyden. When the Village of Salmo put out a call for local muralists to propose ideas, Reyden knew her appreciation for the natural scenes of Salmo life would help her create something beautiful.
Salmo has a history of prioritizing public art. In 1990, a local quarry owner launched the “rock project” to encourage stone masonry and boost stone sales. The town commissioned several stone murals and a unique artistic perspective was established. Anne Williams, chief administrative officer of the Village of Salmo and Mayor Diana Lockwood are long-standing supporters of public art; they worked together to develop a plan that incorporated painted and stone murals into a new fence near the curling rink and Lions’ Park.
The Village Council was able to move forward with enhancing the Lions’ Park entrance, much to the pleasure of neighbours and locals, with support from the Trust.
“We beautify the park while telling the local story of nature and fishing,” says Williams.
“These are things that are very integrated into our history. We took the opportunity to make a visually appealing fence and integrate the murals into it, but it was more than just a fancy idea. It was a series of murals to celebrate our community.”
After Reyden’s concept drawings were accepted by the board, she was eager to add to her impressive portfolio and contribute to her community at the same time. Inspired by the plethora of outdoor activities available to her family and friends in Salmo, she took from those experiences to create a colourful summer landscape depicting Salmo River and local trails, and used her young sons as eager models.
Reyden began her creative process from her garage, a perfect vantage point to paint while watching her three kids — not an easy feat. Her two painted murals perfectly complemented a third piece: a stone mural that she also designed, which was put together by local stonemason, Jason Bourne. This stone mural would become the seventh of its kind in Salmo.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, local high school volunteers, prospective future stonemasons, and young artists were prohibited from taking part in the project as originally hoped. But a pandemic could not dampen Reyden’s inspiration, as outdoor activities flourished throughout this time. Inspired by her active community, she set out to beautifully showcase Salmo’s year-round outdoor offerings. Without volunteers, Reyden continued her work mostly solo, but says she felt completely supported during the project and appreciates the exposure the murals have provided her as an artist.
The way communities are affected by public art is both nuanced and important. Art can mirror one’s surroundings and this latest mural project truly reflects a magical town. Reyden acknowledges the project holds meaning for many of her fellow community members.
“One of my friends lives right past the murals, and she told me that she just loves seeing them every day,” she adds. “When the light is changing, it’s almost like the murals change with the light.”