Over 500 years ago, Hieronymus Bosch created the painting he would become most famous for, “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Even though surrealism didn’t exist in the late 1400s, the painting became the inspiration for the surrealism movement 350 years later. But its story doesn’t end there.

“The Garden of Earthly Delights” has become the inspiration for The Reach Gallery’s next big event, CreatiValley, to take place during Culture Days, a three-day, Canada-wide movement to host events that take audiences behind the scenes of artistic practice.

“Our mandate is to encourage artistic education and appreciation; and what better way than to structure a big cultural event than around a historic painting? Particularly one that inspired a movement about 350 years later,” said the Reach’s curator and executive director, Laura Schneider. It is the second year that CreatiValley will take place, and is taking on an exciting new life.
CreatiValley kicks off Thursday, September 29 with an opening reception and exhibitions.

On Friday, September 30, from 7 to 9 p.m., attendees will be given the opportunity to participate in a Surrealist Art Party for adults.

“We’re inviting folks to come and create surrealist inspired art, with the help of facilitators. They’re going to have a bit of guidance, and have about five or six tables. And each table will be a guided activity,” says Schneider. There will also be a bar in order to lubricate the creative mind. “And we’ll have a signature drink that surrealism inspired.”

The aim of the activities is to create something surreal, yet usable. “There’s a work of art called “Object” by artist Méret Oppenheim, and she took fur and covered a tea cup and saucer and spoon. So we’re going to create some custom glassware, not using real fur, and not covering the inside of the glasses. But we’re going to have some really interesting, like a signature drink in a signature glass that people will be able to take home with them,” says Schneider. This is only one example of a style of craft to expect. Schneider also hopes that people will create something that is wearable for a party the following evening.

“We want people to drop in. It’s free to the public. It’s cash bar. Come and have a drink. DJ Waxkilla is going to be dropping the sick beats. And people are going to be making crafts.”
As Saturday, October 1 takes hold, the surrealism will begin to grow. The day begins with a Surrealist Art Party for Kids that in many ways reflects the one that took place on Friday but for the family. The crafts will also be wearable.

“[We] hope parents bring their kids and make similar crafts that are inspired by surrealism and learn a little bit about what surrealism is,” says Schneider.
To close the three day event, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, The Reach will be hosting The Garden of Earthly Delights Bacchanal.

“On that night the gallery is going to be transformed into a Hieronymus Bosch party. We’ve invited food producers and vendors from across the valley to come and serve samples of whatever it is they make,” Schneider says excitedly. Though it is not a costume party, it is also hoped that attendees will come wearing the surreal artistic creations they made the night before. “Again, DJ Waxkilla is going to be rocking out for us,” she says. “And we’re going to have some really exciting performances, involving an aerial artist, a belly dancer, a hair artist, [and] a tattoo artist.” The tattoo artist, she explains, will be tattooing “The Garden of Earthly Delights” live onto the thigh of a client. In addition, there will be a flower wall with models body painted to disguise themselves into the wall. “It’s going to be piles of fun and probably something that’s never been seen before in Abbotsford,” says Schneider.

Even though the weekend is based Upon the idea of a painting, Scheider insists, “It’s not just an event about this painting. We’re trying to use it as a bit of a catalyst to bring together a bunch of creative types in our community and tap into a certain aesthetic.” She wants the event to bring a demographic to the Reach that doesn’t often go to art galleries, but at the same time, show appreciation for their long-time attendees and visitors “by showing them things that are taking place in their community that they may not know about, but are no less valid as art forms.”

“We’re hoping to attract an audience that’s open to the experience,” says Schneider, “and maybe let go of some of their inhibitions and just enjoy the night. So, there’s going to be opportunities to say, have some body paint done on you, our hair artist is going to bring some head pieces that people can try on.”

It’s clear from just a brief talk with Laura Schneider that there is a great amount of passion put into this year’s festivities. “[The artists involved] are so talented, they’re so committed, they’re so giving of themselves,” says Schneider in praise.

With a strong artistic team and a very committed and excited staff, this year’s creatiValley may be one of the most exciting and surreal experiences of the year. Be ready for a lot of exciting and strange art, and a lot of fun.

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