February 3rd, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 5
So you want to be a starving artist? Come to the Pass. You’ll starve less.
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
CNP Creative Minds member Kristin Marie brainstorming arty ideas at a meeting last week.
Pass Herald Reporter
Seated in a circle of chairs, making introductions with a few dozen other creative types, Bruce Guy explained how he’d been traveling around North America looking for a place to hang his hat when he found the Pass.

“I’m home,” said Guy. “It’s a good fit. I feel places and there’s something spiritual here.”

But there may be another reason why Guy and a host of other artists seem to be flocking to the Pass: they’re starving, and the community offers a level of affordability you won’t find in many other mountain towns.

“Artists don’t have a lot of money,” said Guy. “And where else can you get a house for $80,000 in a place as beautiful as this? I’ve visited a lot of places where there have been creative people and I believe this could become a haven for artists. With the property values so low, it cannot fail.”

Guy, who does leatherwork and metalwork, purchased a house in the Pass in October. He found himself at the Artist Collective Studio for last week’s meeting of CNP Creative Minds. The group formed over Facebook a few short months ago and boasts almost 100 members.

John Redekopp, a realtor at MaxWell Canyon Creek, said that while other similar communities might have more recognizable brands, they cannot beat the Pass when it comes to the price of real estate.

He could not give exact figures but he said a starter home in the Pass would be substantially cheaper than a similar home in other similar communities.

“For a mountain community the competition would be Canmore, Golden, Revelstoke and Fernie,” said Redekopp. “Compared to any of those other ones that are fairly well known, [the Pass] is completely affordable.”

Speaking at the CNP Creative Minds meeting on Jan. 28, Redekopp said the profusion of empty commercial properties that dot the community could also be a magnet for artists.

“What’s attractive to most artists I know, is the funkier the building, the more excited they are,” said Redekopp. “Coleman has some great buildings and there are others all through the Pass that are sitting empty and doing nothing.”

“Its attractive and I think those guys get it,” he said of the gathered artists. “It’s groups like this that will change the Crowsnest Pass.”
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CNP Creative Minds co-founder Nichole Yanota said part of her decision to move the Pass from the small town in Arizona where she was born came down to dollars and cents.

“It was an attractive place to live for the reason we could afford to live here,” said Yanota. “There was more opportunity on less of a budget. And the idea I can have a studio in the Crowsnest Pass? My artist friends in Fernie are jealous.”

Yanota said the combination of affordability and beauty could make the Pass a perfect storm for artists but she said the community is still developing.

“It is budding and expanding,” she said. “But not organized.”

Her desire for a cohesive creative community, like the one she left in Arizona, led her to found the group with Crystal Leach, another local artist, a few months ago.

“Basically coming from a home town in Arizona, I’m trying to emulate the feeling I had there,” she said. “Our creative community was so interconnected and they did things as a group, they made things happen and they were an identifiable force in the community.”
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“When I moved here and saw artists not interacting as much as I thought they should, I decided to try and facilitate that,” she added. “Lets start mingling and get some energy flying between artists.”

And they have big plans for the community. They already committed a yarn bombing in Blairmore a few months ago. Initiatives discussed at last week’s meeting include little libraries spread around the Pass, concrete eggs, parks full of statues, public crow sculptures, beautification of buildings and crocheting.

“There’s a huge population of artistic people here,” said Creative Minds co-founder Crystal Leach. “And now that we’re actually getting together and organizing, there’s so much we can get done.”
February 3rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 5
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