Though many summer events in Blaine have been canceled due to Covid-19, a yearly tradition remains: The 23rd Annual Peace Arch Park International Sculpture Exhibition. Christina Winkler, exhibit coordinator of the International Peace Arch Association (IPAA), said the organization is grateful to still hold the outdoor gallery amidst a pandemic.
“Frankly it’s nice to have something kind of normal going on,” she said. “We all need something to look forward to.”
The exhibition is currently on display at Peace Arch Park, a place where visitors can socially distance and safely view the art, Winkler said. More people are visiting the park to meet up with friends and family from across the border due to the border closure, so Winkler said the venue provides a way to introduce people to the arts who may not usually visit a gallery.
Winkler added that it’s wonderful to see cross-border relationships at the park because it echoes what the Peace Arch represents.
“Art is a universal language and peace is a universal need. It’s just so beautiful seeing the art actually in the natural environment,” Winkler said.
The IPAA, in coordination with park management, selected eight sculptures created by five artists to be featured in the exhibition. Some pieces are figurative while others are more abstract. The artwork is scattered around the west side of the park, near the northbound crossing. One sculpture titled “Rocketman,” visible to drivers crossing northbound, features a mannequin riding on top of a thin metal rocket. The piece “symbolizes man’s urge to explore the world,” artist Ron Simmer said in the exhibition’s informational brochure.
“It’s very unique. Definitely a welcome to the park,” said Ariel Spears, a first-time park visitor.
Another artist, Joe Treat of Bow, submitted two of his driftwood sculptures to the exhibit this year. The 66-year-old discovered he had a knack for the hobby four years ago after visiting Thailand, inspired by the teak wood sculptures he saw there. Treat said he never considered himself an artist, nor did he have any technical training, but believes it’s never too late to find a creative passion.
“I think everyone has something they can do better than others, it’s just a matter of finding it,” Treat said.
Sometimes Treat has an animal in mind and other times he is inspired by the shape of the driftwood pieces he finds on the beach. For the exhibition Treat submitted two animal sculptures, “Lion & Cub,” and “Owl.” Treat said he takes time to make the sculptures look as life-like as possible.
“I knew I was doing good when a dog started barking at my sculpture,” Treat said.
The exhibition will be on display until October 1, and Winkler wants to feature even more artists at next year’s outdoor gallery.
“We hope we’ll get more submissions next year because we’re hoping that artists, as they’re nestled in and bunkered down, are being really creative,” Winkler said.
Informational brochures about each sculpture, which includes a map of the artworks’ locations, are available at the information kiosk inside Peace Arch Park. To learn more, or to submit your artwork for consideration for the 2021 exhibition, visit peacearchpark.org.