If you go out in the woods today, and you’re on the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail extension, you will see public art! Canmore’s 2020 Art Walk in the Woods features 6 temporary installations thanks to a collaboration between the Town of Canmore and the 2020 Alberta World Cup organizing committee.
When I hiked the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail extension from the TransAlta Rundle Hydro Plant to the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park in late February, there were no Art Walk information signs in place. So this post doesn’t include any artists’ names, names of the art installations, or any other details. Instead, descriptions and comments are strictly my observations and reflections!
I met someone involved with the 2020 Alberta World Cup on my hike. She told me the hope is that the Art Walk in the Woods encourages World Cup spectators to walk to the Canmore Nordic Centre. What a fun idea!
To reach the recently completed Legacy Trail extension, walk the Bow River Loop pathway in Canmore and look for the TransAlta Rundle Hydro Plant.
If you’re lucky, you might spot some elk along the way (remember to give elk lots of space – keep 30 meters/3 bus lengths away).
The Legacy Trail extension starts just behind/beside the power station. It looks like the Art Walk in the Woods signage is now up, as this photo was taken March 1st.
Hike up the steep wood/dirt stairs or up the new switchback trail to where it enters the woods (on provincial park land), just past the Legacy Trail sign. Then start looking for art!
Ski “Prayer Flags”
The first art installation I spotted on the way up to the Canmore Nordic Centre was a long string of what looked like prayer flags, suspended from/around a small grove of trees.
Up close, I discovered they are made of sections of old skis – tips, middles, ends, wood, composite, with bindings, without bindings, multi-coloured, etc. What a great tie-in to the 2020 Alberta World Cup! And it’s a second life for presumably obsolete/wrecked skis.
I’m excited to discover the story behind the clay beads hanging from another grove of trees a little further along the trail. The lady with the Alberta World Cup Connection that I met along the trail lit up when I mentioned the beads, which apparently were created by a lot of people!
The individual beads are tiny compared to the trees; hanging them in groups made them easier to spot. It also helps when a sunbeam lights them up with a warm glow.
When the Woods Becomes the Art
For me, the reflective panels that turn the trees into the art is the installation that best embodies the idea of an Art Walk in the Woods. The reflections constantly change, whether due to wind, changing sky, the transition of winter into spring or simply where you’re standing.
A colourful cube under the power line is the largest piece along the way. There’s a kind of pop/graffiti aesthetic to the representations of seasonal teachings from Stoney Nakoda culture. The Rocky Mountain Outlook’s website has an informative article about this piece.
The flora and fauna are easily recognizable to those who get out and about in this part of the world on a regular basis, especially with the help of the season tags in the Stoney Nakoda language (and helpfully translated to English).
The final piece I spotted was another cube, this one much smaller and comprised of laser cut, steel panels with a pyramid-shaped mirror inside.
This piece encourages all of us to push ourselves as we experience life’s ups and downs.
According to a Town of Canmore spokesperson, installation signage should be up the first week of March and details will also be available on the Town’s website. If you were counting my descriptions/photos, you’ll know I only found 5 of the 6 installations. That means I’ll be making a return visit before the 2020 Art Walk in the Woods comes down on April 13th. Will I see you on the trail?