Whimsical creatures are popping up all around the Kootenay region that they’re named for. This is why. Story by Louis Bockner.

Around the West Kootenay, a new species is emerging: large humanoids with steel skeletons and bark-like skin that wear expressions of kindness and playful invitation. You may see them rising from the Earth’s crust alongside highways or growing from boulders in quiet hemlock forests. One even cradles a sapling outside an RCMP detachment.  

Above: Two of the Koots that can be found on the Kaslo River Trail as photographed by Peter Moynes. For more about biking that trail, visit our Slaycation story here: https://kootenaymountainculture.com/new-mountain-bike-trails-and-breweries-in-the-west-kootenay-british-columbia/ Top: Louis Bockner photo.

These sculptures are the creation of Yvonne Boyd, Spring Shine, and Chris Petersen, a trio of artists from the small community of Argenta, British Columbia, who make up the Koots Artist Collective. What started with “The Keeper,” a winning entry in the 2018 Castlegar Sculpturewalkan annual exhibition featuring work by local and international artistshas grown into a series of sculptures that are waiting to be found.  

Kaslo River Trail. Photo by Vince Hempsall.

Castlegar, Meadow Creek, and Kaslo all have installations, while Slocan City is slated to receive the next one in 2021. Aside from the Castlegar piece, which was purchased by the city after winning Sculpturewalk’s People’s Choice Award, the rest have been funded through a combination of grants and GoFundMe campaigns. In the future, the artists hope to use a combination of geocaching and promotion to help people discover these interactive, high-spirited, and occasionally mischievous pieces of permanent art.