First Nations artist Riley Charters will be one of the featured artists at the Quaaout Lodge on the Shuswap First Nation from April 17-19. She will join Alisa Nielsen, Teresa Walker, Dewey Smith, Melissa Nasty , Doris Bonneau and other well known Aboriginal artists when they showcase their talents at the First Annual Aboriginal Arts Festival.
The two-day event will include a live auction and fashion show; the profits will be donated to the Shuswap Nation’s Aboriginal Youth Art Scholarship Fund.
“We are really looking forward to participating in this first-ever event,” assured Charters, whose beautiful artwork, Turtle Dance, highlights the cover of the March issue of Alberta Native News. “My husband (Bill Lowe) and I really enjoy these types of events. They not only open up new sources of revenue, they also give us the opportunity to meet new people and see what both new and accomplished artists are creating today.”
The Quaaout Lodge at Talking Rock Golf Course, which houses the famous Jack Sam’s Restaurant, is located on the north shore of Little Shuswap Lake. The resort is referred to by the Shuswap First Nation as “the pride of the Little Shuswap Indian Band.”
“It’s the perfect place to host the inaugural event,” noted Charters. “It’s a beautiful part of the province in April and the atmosphere is always inviting. If you have a few extra days you’ll also discover that there are lots of things to do and many places to visit.”
Born in Merritt, B.C., Charters is a Thompson/Shuswap First Nation artist who currently makes her home in Mission. Her love of art and her desire to create it came as a young child.
“My sister and my uncle are both good artists and their work inspired me at a young age,” she explained. “The first time I picked up a brush and put paint on a canvas, I knew that this was what I really wanted to do.”
An alumni from the Kootenay School of the Arts (1975-78), now referred to as The Arts School, Charters continues to practice, to learn and to achieve. Through sheer determination, natural talent and an ability to tell a story with each piece of art she creates, Riley Charters has opened new ground and sought new challenges. Inspired by the stories of her family and her observations both within the Aboriginal community and throughout the world, Charters has always been interested in Aboriginal culture and tradition. She spent a lot of time researching the province’s First Nations before transferring her knowledge and visions to canvas.
“I’m always looking for new galleries willing to showcase and exhibit my work,” noted Charters, who first started participating in Native art shows in the 1980s. “Some of my work is included in the Thompson River University’s permanent collection.”
Riley’s art has also been exhibited at the Path Gallery in Whistler, in the About Canada Gallery in Banff and at the popular Eagle Feather Gallery in Victoria. She was recently nominated for a local award from the Abbotsford Arts Council’s 11th Annual Arty Awards in the Outstanding Artist category for 2 dimensional visual art. Riley said that the award recipients will be announced on April 11 and it was certainly an honour to be nominated.
Riley’s art can be viewed on two websites. The first, which dates back to the 1970s and up to 2005, includes a collection of her beautiful art categorized by the year in which the art was completed. Each piece is accompanied by a description, interpretation or explanation of the message behind the art. To view the work of this creative artist and understand the messages delivered in her art, be sure to check out the website.
Click here to see the work created by Charters during the past four years. These paintings are presented without comment or explanation and are left up to the viewer to interpret.
During the last 32 years Riley Charters has created a great deal of art. She is multi-talented and her artistic flair has enabled her to produce everything from beautiful beadwork and gemstone jewelry to hand-pulled lithographic prints, water colours, pastels and colourfully unique one-of-a-kind oil paintings. Her strong use of colour brings every subject in her paintings to life; her vision of future days and the messages she delivers in each piece of work she creates are indicative of her culture, community and country. Charters’ love of the outdoors, the wildlife, the natural habitat and the flora and fauna of the wild is evident in almost every piece she creates.
“I love the outdoors; I enjoy the scenery, the travel, the everyday experiences that Bill and I share as we travel to various venues or to the wilderness to create art,” she explained. “I also enjoy my work as a facilitator for the Mission School District and particularly the days when I teach workshops to students from Grades 1 through 7. Art is a great motivator and I find it very enjoyable to teach children the basics and to let them know that you don’t always need words to make a statement, sometimes you can use art as your voice.”
Riley’s husband, Bill Lowe is an electrical apprenticeship instructor and sales person and his wife’s greatest supporter. He frequently accompanies her to artistic events and exhibits and to the remote locations where she seeks out new ideas, happens upon new vistas and utilizes her findings to create new work.
“I’d encourage anyone interested in learning more about Riley and the work she does as an artist and communicator to join us in mid-April at the inaugural Aboriginal Art Festival at the Quaaout Lodge,” encouraged Lowe. “In the meantime, if you can’t make it, but are interested in exhibiting Riley’s art, please contact us by emailing: [email protected].
by John Copley