Arts community honours its own

Joyce Balestra recognized for contributions over the years

The year 1986 was one of significance for arts and culture in Sicamous.

It was the year the former Eagle Valley Museum opened its doors and the year Dorothy Aberbcrombie’s book, Sicamous, Mara to Three Valley: Gateway to the Okanagan, Land of Shimmering Sunset Waters was released.

It was also the year local arts groups pulled together to apply for and receive provincial grant money to help in the purchase of the Red Barn from Walter and Betty Derkaz to use as a community facility.

The Eagle Valley Arts Council led the successful bid for building – constructed in 1926 and named the Red Barn after the grant was approved in June 1986. The council was supported in the purchase by its various member arts groups including the Eagle Valley Brush and Palette Club. Joyce Balestra, who helped found the arts council, was president of the brush and palette club at the time.

In February 1986, Balestra presented Carol-Lyn Davidson with the club’s life membership honour in recognition of her work being displayed in Vancouver during Expo.

Thirty-one years later, Balestra received the same honour for her contributions to the club and community, including her help in the acquisition of the Red Barn.

“It’s a great privilege, but then it’s been a great privilege to help develop and see the development of the brush and palette club over all these years,” said Balestra while surrounded by club members, including fellow lifetime honour recipients Amy Boutwell, Betty Hill and Juanita Etson, in the Red Barn on Friday, Nov. 24.

Before her foray into the art world, Balestra was a trained physiotherapist in England. After working in several hospitals, she spent three years working in Africa. Balestra moved to Canada in 1957. She lived in Vernon and worked with the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society, then at a hospital in Enderby. Balestra moved to Swansea Point in 1977 and became actively involved in the development of local arts groups, the Swansea Point Communit Association and the preservation of Turtle Bay.

Reflecting on the club’s early years, Balestra said they used to meet in the community’s former firehall before it was condemned.

“All the fuses used to blow… So then we went to the bottom of the municipal office for a while,” explained Balestra. “And then, of course, Expo came up and the people who were running a bingo hall wanted to sell this building.”

Eagle Valley Brush and Palette Club president Terry Sinton refers to Balestra as someone who makes things happen.

“We just wanted to honour her for the contributions she made starting the arts council and starting the brush and palette club and really giving us a legacy in this town for the arts,” said Sinton. “Joyce a force to be reckoned with. In my opinion, it’s people like Joyce who made this happen because they don’t know how to do anything other than make things happen.”

At 91 years, Balestra is still painting, or “playing” as she calls it.

“I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and I’ll still come here – as long as I’m around. I’m not sure how long that’s going to be,” joked Balestra. “You’re a lot of fun, you’re all great and everybody has advanced so much over the years.”

The Eagle Valley Brush and Palette Club meets Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Red Barn, and Sinton welcomes everyone to stop by.

“We would also like people who are here know that the brush and palette club isn’t some kind of exclusive society where you have to have some kind of magical artistic talent,” said Sinton. “It’s a place to come and experiment and play and sort of learn what you can do and can’t do and what you want to do. It’s really open to anybody.”


@SalmonArm
lachlan@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A tow truck was stolen from Armstrong-based Eagle Rock Towing at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (Erin Elder photo)
‘Right in front of my eyes’: Tow truck stolen from Armstrong company

The white 2011 Ford was stolen from Eagle Rock Towing early Saturday morning

Kelowna residents got creative in celebrating Halloween amid COVID-19, taking a haunted house on the road for nearby residents to enjoy. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Gallery: Central Okanagan residents celebrate Halloween creatively

Grenfell Road Haunted House didn’t open this year, instead found creative way to celebrate the season

Grey Canal Trail: Turtle Mountain. (Contributed)
Vernon trails society celebrates 20 years

The Ribbons of Green Trails Society has contributed to a growing network of local trails since 2000

Vernon’s Swan Lake Nurseryland is switching to seasonal operations for the second straight year. The longstanding business on Highland Road will close for the winter at the end of the day Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Last day of the year for Vernon’s Swan Lake Nurseryland

Business going seasonal for second straight year, will close for the winter end of day Saturday

Nick Kent had three assists to lead the Vernon Vipers over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-1 Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
New additions push Vernon Vipers past Salmon Arm Silverbacks

Freshly signed WHL talents Josh Prokop and Tyler Carpendale both had goals in Friday night’s tilt

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A rock slide is blocking one lane off the Trans-Canada Highway west of Sicamous. (Cindy Schedlosky/Facebook)
Rock slide near Sicamous cleared from highway

Single-lane alternating traffic had been in effect.

(DiStefano Jaud Architecture)
Proposed development on Kelowna farmland raises red flags

Developer proposes gas station, car wash, liquor store, commercial buildings, in agricultural area

Hiawatha RV Park will be demolished starting in February, to make room for a new condo development. Residents have four months to leave. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘I don’t know what to do’; Kelowna RV park resident pleas for eviction extension

Hiawatha RV Park residents have four months to leave the neighbourhood

Titled “Dutch Underground - Laren 1944,” Mineke Spencer’s parents Johanna and Albert Jan Koeslag (centre) sit with their 13 children, who ranged in age from seven (Minike) to 28. Mineke is the little girl with the big white bow in the front, left, beside sister Marie, also with a white bow. (Contributed)
Fearless allies: Shuswap woman reflects on childhood in Dutch Resistance

Mineke Spencer was three-years-old when Germany invaded her home in the Netherlands

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

A fundraising initiative has been set up to help Mirjana Komljenovic, who has been diagnosed with Hermansky Pudlak Syndome and requires $2,000 a month to cover the costs of her medication. (gofundme.com)
Fundraiser created to help Summerland woman with rare condition

Mirjana Komljenovic requires costly medication to treat Hermansky Pudlak Syndome

Most Read