This article first appeared in print in the December 2019 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

This year’s LUNA Festival may have come and gone, but one particular piece of the popular event remains: the Art Alleries. The works of local artist Rob Buchanan gracing the C3 and Selkirk Medical alleyways are the first iteration of this public art initiative, which aims to transform the alleyways of Revelstoke into open-air galleries.

The original inspiration for the project was to give LUNA artists a more permanent display space and to make better use of alleys around the city that are under-utilized. But as the first phase of the project came together, a new benefit came to light.

A detail of Rob Buchanan’s work, created from recycled skis and snowboards. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Since the artwork is lit with solar-powered LEDs, the alleyways instantly became safer and more inviting to pedestrians, providing the community not only with great local art to look at but walkways they feel comfortable using. In this way, Art Alleries has been carefully designed to take not only the art and its location into consideration, but the impact on the community as well.

Rob Buchanan pictured in his downtown studio space. Photo: Sarah j Spurr/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine file photo

As one of the founders of the project and its first artist, Rob Buchanan has a very specific vision for Art Alleries. He values green energy and recycled materials. In fact, the works in the pop art portion of this first exhibit, Marilyn Monroe’s “Begbie Smile” and “The Mona Skisa” by Leonardo da Vinski, were constructed with used skis and snowboards, drawing a clear connection between the art and an activity so beloved by the Revelstoke community.

Buchanan says the project has been very well received by businesses and law enforcement, who see the transformation of the alleyways, now brightly lit and well-trafficked, as having improved security.

A detail of an Art Alleries work by Rob Buchanan. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The goal of the project is to continue expanding and featuring more artists as more spaces are included. The works are manufactured in a way that’s durable and resistant to vandalism, meaning they’re essentially permanent exhibits.

“I’d say that everyone’s pretty stoked to see alleys transformed and used in a different way,” Buchanan says. “I’m pretty excited to do more.”

You can see Rob Buchanan’s work on Instagram at @buchananstudio3.

Cara Smith
Cara Smith is a freelance writer from Fredericton, New Brunswick. After studying English literature and fine arts at St. Thomas University, Cara began writing for the Telegraph-Journal, the provincial daily newspaper in New Brunswick, where she landed a silver Atlantic Journalism Award for arts and entertainment reporting in 2015. Cara went on to work as a staff writer for Huddle, an online news magazine, before going out on a limb to check out life in the West in early 2019. She's now focusing on feature stories and has a keen interest in arts and culture.