Looking Aft, we did it! by Kate Tupper

Installing with Trent and the Waterbridge ferry crew was a fantastic way to spend a Friday. 

Installing with Trent and the Waterbridge ferry crew was a fantastic way to spend a Friday. 

Yesterday, almost exactly a year after the Art Party that saved it, Looking Aft was installed on the M.V. Columbia. Until the moment it was secured, buffed, shining in the sun I never truly believed that this concept could become reality. Too many road blocks along the way to re-hash it all, but I can say that from the day I was asked to design something for this ship to its installation, this project spanned three and a half years. 

Looking Aft ; laser cut, hand woven, TIG welded 14' stainless steel sculpture. Installed on the house works of the M.V. Columbia.

Looking Aft; laser cut, hand woven, TIG welded 14' stainless steel sculpture. Installed on the house works of the M.V. Columbia.

Many times over those years I had to check in with myself and weigh the pros and cons of continuing the fight to bring public art to the ship I helped build. I had a key word tattooed on my arm 6 years ago. "Persevere" And in my heart I truly believed that this project was worth it. The agony over finding the perfect design, grant proposal writing, the fundraising, the weeks of hand sanding. All worth it.

Thank You

The crew at Waterbridge Steel, whom I had the privilege to work beside building the Columbia. You shared your skills and friendship over the months we laboured to build a ship. It's no small feat. Your strength and comraderie empowered me to be the best welder I could be. You inspired me to keep up, laugh it off, and eventually these experiences and memories led me to design something ... a gift back. Thank you for helping me recognize the beauty and strength in teamwork. You are a special group of individuals. Bonarc, my friends.

Maryse Langevin and  Callum Campbell  from the Ministry of Transportation for the concept that we could and should put public art on the Columbia.

Our Mayor, Karen Hamlin, for suggesting that the small grubby welder girl over there also builds sculpture and sowing this seed of a project into my life.

Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Columbia Basin Trust for your support of a major project grant and afterwards for the patience and flexibility when the project had to change or die.

Waterbridge Steel and John Harding for the adventure of a lifetime. Shipbuilding is a wild, exciting ride. 

Waterbridge Ferries, so welcoming of the arrival of Looking Aft and helpful in the physical work of installation. You guys rule. I feel I have left her in great hands.

My family, friends, community for your endless support.  All I talk about is projects, and you guys are so cool to just hop on board with one. When I asked if you could help me replace the funds needed to go ahead with this project? Can you help me build an Art Party? You all said yes! And we did. 

Looking Aft, your trials made me stronger and resulted in the invention of something we didn't even know we needed in our lives. Art Party. We made, and keep making Lemonaid. 

Bizarre Bazaar, $4000 raised for public art in Nakusp by Kate Tupper

Last April we were ecstatic and surprised to welcome around 160 people into the Old Fire Hall for a night of visual and performing arts. This time around, we thought it might be ambitious, but we planned on twice that number and surpassed it, with 393 artists, contributors and guests whose coming together made this November’s Art Party the raging success that it was. You came out, you shared your gifts, and wow, Nakusp, you weird up nice!

How is Art Party so amazing? We planned our event around eight values: Creativity, Innovation, Ever changing, Generosity, Inclusivity, Engagement, Playfulness and Eclectic. Not only has it been a crazy amount of volunteer work, but our success is also due to the professional and personal skills and connections of the organizers. We know what we are doing and we have a lot of great friends and acquaintances that share our values. Our focus isn't on how much money we make. If you read our goals, which are copied and pasted below, money is actually listed last.

Art Party Goals:

• Everyone have FUN

• Make Art Accessible and enjoyable for everyone

• Have people experience something new

• Attract more visitors and money to our area, and show off what Nakusp has to offer! Make them wish they lived here.

• Raise money for public art projects in the Nakusp Area

The experience of the event for the amazing community that comes out, real life moments of pure joy and playfulness, the connection of people with friends old and new: those are our actual goals.

However, we did reach our monetary goal of $1000 towards the painting by Michelle McLeod for the side of Bettyz Edge. $2000 for our local Legion #20 to be combined with the $1000 they put forward to commission and produce a mural for the side of their building. The rest goes to a nest egg for the next Art Party. This way we can bring you more party and keep our ticket prices low, ensuring that everyone can afford to attend, while upping the experience every time.

Economic spin-off was another focus, and we saw an opportunity to boost local revenue by attracting visitors and creating a bit of tourism in the off seasons. We would love your feedback. Did it work? Some businesses we would like to thank that jumped on board with donations or partnerships are Overwaitea Foods, Nakusp Esso, K2 Rotor Lodge, Bettyz Edge, Move on the Kusp, Cut Rite, Alisha Fritz, What’s Brewing, Making Memories, Prima Materia, Halcyon, Aidan McLaren-Caux, Spark Tart, Julia Burger, Linda Dixon, JoAnne Alaric for the ice, and The Cabin in Revelstoke.

Art Party is great because of its layers of artists, patrons, and contributors. It was especially magical due to the organization and dreams of some very key players: Jackie and Cory Phillipson, Christa Rebman, Kish Pedersen, Ali and Dustin Raskob, Autumn Grossutti, and Cassia Parent: you built Art Party. Big ups to Dylan Leeson and Bob Moody for making that site come alive! Jesse Booth and Matt Hawkins for your PA’s. What good is a party without Bass? Alex Marshall for his canvas and staple gun skills, Deb Rushfeldt, Charlotte Cunningham, Coty Lindgren, and Roland Honsek for your creative help and contributions to our show. Miranda Dahl and Colleen Matchett, the ‘Go Art Yourself’ dress-up booth’s bedazzling goddesses. Thanks to Ryan Noble for the costume donations, Jessica Grey our event photographer, Lee Orr for providing the photo booth, and Boukje Elzinga for visual artist support.

To our audience, your participation was tremendous. Thank you not only for coming out, thank you for your smiles, costumes and dance moves. What an incredible community we live in! Of course to all of the contributing artists, local and visiting, you are what made Bizarre Bazaar a feast for our senses. What would November have been without you?

And especially to those who came out early Sunday morning to pull down tents in the rain and sweep up the confetti and glitter detritus - all the messy evidence of the previous night's revelry. We heart you big time.

From Scratch by Kate Tupper

I have always wanted to make a stop motion movie. This was my third attempt. The first two were the worst kind of film; a promising beginning with a developed character and a nice plot line and then inevitably I would become engulfed in the process and slowly take less pictures... So they became these films where it all kinda falls apart in the middle and the ending makes no sense. 

Fall Art Party by Kate Tupper

After the fun we had building spring Art Party, and the incredibly positive feedback from all of our guests. We are at it again!

As the days grow shorter, lets gather and celebrate our community and the arts... with a party

Interested in participating? Shoot me a message: sparktart@yahoo.ca

Beautiful Dreamers by Kate Tupper

On Aril 30th, we set out to raise money for my public sculpture project, ‘Looking Aft,’ by creating the event that we, ourselves, would like to attend. Very quickly, it realized a greater purpose and became a vehicle to make Art of all shapes, genres and sizes more accessible for the people of Nakusp and beyond.

Art has a very weird currency at Art Party. We are openly operating on an exploitation system. Exploit many artists (they share their work for free) and the public (we take their money) in order to fund the projects we want to see. Many talented artists may not have the schooling, writing skills, or experience to solidify their project dreams through grants. Now the major art funders don’t get to be the only ones making decisions about what we experience as Art on a daily basis in Nakusp. 

In my artist statement for ‘Looking Aft,’ I reference teamwork. It has taken a lot of teamwork to keep pushing this project. Now that we have tied up an event and your experiences to it, you are part of that team.

You can’t throw an Art Party by yourself; there are too many facets to a great event. The power to create, and the impact it has, grows with the variety of strengths, opinions, and experiences of those involved. I could not have made this idea a reality without these Beautiful Dreamers. Women who say “this is how we can do it” not “ here’s why that won’t work” - Jackie Phillipson, Autumn Grossutti, Ali Raskob, Kish Peterson, Cassia Parent, and Christa Rebman, your skills, support, and laughter go a long way towards changing the face of our little village. Art equals Culture equals Tourism equals Money. Our town can only benefit from a raised awareness and a new approach to the Arts.

The ladies who built Art Party and friends

The ladies who built Art Party and friends

Everyone that helped build Art Party, by contributions and/or presence, now has a hand in the public art we want to give to you. It’s a gifting circle. We have an Art Party … you bring us your money … we melt your brains. We take that money, commission an artist and pay them properly to produce a work for the public that melts your brains. We have an Art Party, you bring us your money ….  We can fundraise by supporting, exploiting, encouraging, and celebrating our artists, and now the public is funding public art in Nakusp. 

So, when you finally see ‘Looking Aft,’ remember that it was built from many friends, so many hands, with love, loving it, for you.

Heavenly Bodies by Kate Tupper

Last fall I wrote a proposal that I truly thought would fail. I wrote it because I believed at some point in my lifetime, skill set and experience combined with imagination, would finally be enough to qualify a project for funding. Funding from somewhere other than my own pockets.

I am amazed and overwhelmed to announce that time is now! I am so grateful to my friends and family who have supported me throughout this life of trying times you believed in my vision and fed it too. And a big thank you to B.C. Arts Council for making dreams come true. 

Heavenly Bodies will be a steel and illuminated resin rocket planetarium. Its cosmic patterns seek to connect us with our origins. Installed indoors or out, it can be viewed day and night. 


Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image. 10,000 plus galaxies in one tiny point in the sky.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image. 10,000 plus galaxies in one tiny point in the sky.

 B.C. Arts Council Selection Jury, 

I seek beauty that comes with disequilibrium. I seek darkness accentuated by light. 

I have wondered, lately, why our culture’s collective eyes and imaginations are returning to the dream of space. The signs are there, expressed through pop culture, fashion, and entertainment. I believe that it is partially due to the public’s adoration of astronaut, Chris Hadfield, with his use of photographs, the written word, and social media. He brought humanity to space and space to humanity. We have reconnected. 

I spent years investigating, sketching, and journaling the visual perfection of nature, and what became apparent to me were nature’s patterns. More and more, science brings us these patterns. Personable scientists like Dr. Helen Czerski, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye create television shows like Cosmos, Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey, and Space Suite, making statements of fact that force us to push aside our perceptions of cultural differences and promote cooperation as a species. This practical aspect of popular science comes with the magic of images taken by astronomers with the Hubble telescope; images that can captivate and inspire a new generation. In a society that is increasingly controlled by fear of the unknown, it’s time to encourage other emotions and reactions … reactions such as wonder, awe, and connection. Although space feels both dangerous and beautiful, it has much to teach us about ourselves. 

We live in the midst of a race to bring the common man to space. Private firms are working towards it. NASA says it will take $100 billion and twenty years: I propose to do it for .001% of that in two months. 

Thank you for considering my application. 


Kate Tupper

Art Party Intentions by Kate Tupper

Long story short…

On the summer day in 2013, after we launched the MV Columbia, I was approached to design a sculpture for her. From the beginning I was skeptical.  In my experience, it’s hard to trust that a project will materialize. But because I am an artist and a dreamer, I could not refuse such a great opportunity to build something for so many humans to enjoy. I never could have dreamt the project would stretch out for almost three years. 

Throughout the design process, I came to realize what an important role that art plays in my life and that public sculpture is a way to bring this magic to others. And so I trusted in the future and dreamt of something that could communicate to the viewers a tremendous journey; a story about camaraderie and hard work. Something that would have the humans consider where objects come from and that not everything is built by robots, yet.

Once the design and concept was complete, I was asked to apply for grants which would partially cover the expense of the project. After one failure with BC Arts council, I was able to secure a $10,000 loan from CKCA Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance with the remainder of the funds coming from the partners that had initiated the project. The moment I told them the good news they backpedaled and informed me that although they really wanted the project to go through, the funds they had promised were no longer available. 

These are the moments when I question everything about being an artist. Throughout this project I have fought and won and fought and lost. I have designed something I want to share with our community and the travelers who pass through. I have done everything in my power to bring this project to life… almost … and so in one last effort, my friends and I hope my community will gather around me to celebrate the arts and culture in our area and to raise funds for the project that has broken and healed my heart time and again.


Interested in attending or sharing your work? Art Party Nakusp on Facebook

For a more in depth look at the sculpture project check out:

Looking Aft paper model, finished sculpture will be mounted below the wheel house and entirely woven from stainless steel.

Looking Aft paper model, finished sculpture will be mounted below the wheel house and entirely woven from stainless steel.