Local artist is talk of another town

  • Oct. 30, 2006 9:00 a.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Port Clements artist Manzanita Snow is the talk of Tumbler Ridge, where a new dinosaur gallery adorned with her artwork is opening this week.
Ms Snow spent almost the entire month of August in Tumbler Ridge, in northeastern BC near Dawson Creek, working on two enormous murals for the front and side of the local museum’s new Dinosaur Discovery Gallery.
Many dinosaur bones and footprints have been found in the Tumbler Ridge area, and the town is turning these finds into a tourist draw. The new gallery will give visitors a chance to see the fossils and other evidence of dinosaurs up close.
Ms Snow said the front façade of the gallery is about 60 feet long by 17 feet high, and features five dinosaurs painted in brown on a cream background. The dinosaur drawings were prepared by a scientific illustrator, and Ms Snow and another artist then painted them onto the wall.
Their work attracted many Tumbler Ridge residents, who came by every day to see how the mural was developing, Ms Snow said.
“It was their favourite thing to come and see how it was going,” she said. “The people just couldn’t stay away.”
The sheer size of the wall was a challenge, she said. The largest mural she had painted previously was 7 feet by 20 feet. Another challenge was working on a scaffold. Ms Snow said she is “not a heights person” but the wall was so high she had no choice but to use the scaffold.
The side wall was even bigger, about 80 feet long by 14 feet high, and made of ridged siding which Ms Snow described as “extremely challenging” to paint on.
This wall now features a 30-foot-long Allosaurus, one of the types of dinosaur which has been discovered in the area. Ms Snow said the Allosaurus was a treacherous meat-eater, and much more aggressive than the more celebrated Tyrannosaurus Rex.
“It’s a dynamic piece and it’s done in lifelike colours,” Ms Snow said. “This has given me a ton of experience.”
The long-time islands resident is now starting up a painting business, and plans to specialize in murals and other outdoor art. Murals are a great way for small towns to give themselves a unique character and attract tourists, she said.
“They are really very arresting and create interest,” she said.