Zuzana Riha to walks me through the Art in The Park exhibit at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre. She introduces me to each of her paintings in the November show. She shares narrative about her four-day retreat spent sketching in situ in the Glacier National Park landscape.
In August, a dozen artists came together to celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of the mountain park by producing artworks. The program is designed to inspire an emotional connection and deeper understanding of Canada’s national parks.
Riha has helped with this program before; she works for Parks Canada as a product development officer in their visitor experience office. But this year she contributed as one of the visual artists.
Her vibrant painting of Mount Sir Donald beside the Illecillewaet Glacier is the first we meet. A cool wave dips down from a pocket of night sky over an illuminated valley of rocky figures. She’s brought life to her studies using acrylic on canvas.
Her series borrows inspiration from famous Canadian artist Lawren Harris. Riha’s kind-eyed portraits of watchful bears carry the same moving brush strokes through their shaggy coats as she’s applied to create glacier etched landscapes.
Riha’s gallery works are just one part of her expanding portfolio. Her current darling has been the children’s bike park at the Nels Nelsen recreation area at Mt. Revelstoke national park.
The bike park — which has been a team effort involving others — is designed to build foundational skills in youth. She has consulted with professionals to help meet design standards and is the creative force behind the interactive ‘creature features’ there.
Her life-like sculptures, including an educational animal scat gallery, are created using concrete and epoxy. The project will be completed in time to celebrate with Parks Canada, for the 150th anniversary of Canadian federation in 2017.
At the end of the day, Zuzana brings her passion for outdoor spaces inside. Artistic expression is at the core of her home. It’s in her use of locally milled wood and with her careful application of carvings and inlays of trees, bears, and leaves.
She’s a trained sculptor and illustrated the children’s book Radar the Rescue Dog, a story about an avalanche rescue dog. (Riha has volunteered as an avalanche rescue dog handler.)
Zuzana exemplifies a culture of wild creativity that is found in resourceful Revelstoke. Creativity finds its place out in our community with strong messages about our treasured environment and passion for recreation.
Contact Zuzana to inquire about her work: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit parkscanada.ca to learn about Art in the Park program and the upcoming local Parks Canada celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Canadian federation.
This article first appeared in the December issue of the free Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.