Artist: James McDowell
Date: 2004

When a work of art depicts a real person or place, it becomes a record of a moment in time, in much the same way as a photograph. Art, however, lets the artist speak for him or herself in a way that photographs cannot.

In this painting of the Creston Museum, for example, James McDowell has combined many elements that could never be captured in a single photograph: artifacts from several exhibits in the Museum; the building itself; even the fact that the Museum is bursting with local history.

The twenty-two works of art in this exhibit all depict some part of the Creston Valley, at some point in its past. In some, the artists painted exactly what they saw; in others, art has altered history – or at least our perception of it.

This exhibit was first presented at the Creston Public Library in February 2011; we hope you enjoy this online version of it.

Indian Point, Wynndel

Indian point Artist: C. Ostrensky

Date: 1987

This painting was taken from a 1912 photograph of a Ktunaxa camp near West Creston.  Both the photo and the painting show the Valley in flood, with high water covering the entire flats. The artist, however, chose to move the scene several miles north, to Wynndel.

Despite this change, the painting is an accurate representation of local history: the Ktunaxa camped on the point at Wynndel for many years after the community had been established.

The artist is probably Charlie Ostrensky, a former Wynndel resident and mayor of Creston.

This is a reproduction of the original painting. The original still hangs in the house on the point in Wynndel, and has been sold with the house at least twice.

Anastasia Abel

Moore Anastasia

Artist: Margaret Moore

Date: 1957

Anastasia’s name in the Ktunaxa language was Kiuki, which means “Broken Back.” She was a tiny person, increasingly bent-over with age. In her later years, Anastasia was unable to walk, and crawled from one place to another to carry out her tasks.

Anastasia was 104 when this portrait was painted. When she was born, about 1850, the Ktunaxa way of life followed the same patterns it had for centuries.

The Ktunaxa lived in harmony with the world around them, following the seasonal rhythms of hunting, fishing and gathering, and governed by the rise and fall of the Kootenay River. By the time Anastasia died, that traditional way of life had been almost swept aside by the encroachments of white settlement, modern technologies, and bustling infrastructure.

Ktunaxa Family

Moore familyArtist: Margaret Moore

Date: Late 1950s

In this painting, Margaret Moore has beautifully captured the importance of children in the Ktunaxa society.

In the traditional society, women taught girls, and men taught boys, passing on the skills the children would need to fill their roles in the community. Grandparents also had a role in teaching children, caring for their grandchildren and passing on cultural traditions through storytelling.

Today, Yaqan Nuki School passes on the traditional Ktunaxa knowledge and language, preparing the students to become the teachers of future generations.