The fairy godmother of Nelson theatre

Long-time volunteer Jane Merks has been indispensable to local Capitol productions.

Jane Merks has long volunteered in the Nelson theatre scene and plans to stay in the Kootenays.

To those who know her, she’s the fairy godmother of Nelson theatre.

Retired graphic designer Jane Merks doesn’t have any real official capacity at the Capitol she doesn’t want one but likes to swoop in and take care of idiosyncratic requests.

So, when the Star swung by the theatre’s costume dungeon last week to inform her she would be the latest volunteer recognized in our Above and Beyond series, she was constructing a pair of black leather wings for the upcoming musical Rock of Ages.

“I get a lot of strange requests,” Merks said, noting they primarily come from Capitol designer Kyla Hurst. “I’ve been sewing since I was 10, so I’ve been at it for 50-odd years, and I’m a graphic designer. I can come in and make just about anything.”

Merks came to town as a graphic design professor 15 years ago, and continued to do design work locally. Last year she made a decision: “I didn’t want to work for money anymore.

“Instead I work totally for fun. If I don’t like it, I don’t do it.”

That means she recently designed a book for poet Margaret Hornby just because she felt like it. And she’s been creating costumes for the Capitol’s Christmas pantomime for the past four years.

She’s helped conjure a number of fun characters onstage including Humpty Dumpty, Puss in Boots and Stacee Jaxx. She was also called in to complete 12 avian-themed costumes for Jorinda.

“Coming up with unusual, innovative stuff is kind of my thing,” she said. Another example would be the latex semi-permanent tattoos she’s offered people at the annual Womaginarium fundraiser.

She’s also become involved with Learning in Retirement.

“I’m always part of a team. I no longer want to be in charge of anything. I’ve been there, done that.”

Merks now is devoting a lot of time to her own mixed media projects. A few years ago she dressed all the Lakeside Park trees in corsets, a move that put her in the parks department’s bad books.

“When you do guerrilla art sometimes you lose what you’ve made,” she said, with a shrug. When asked if she’s thinking about doing any more guerrilla art, she laughed: “I wouldn’t tell you if I was!”

Currently Merks has been crocheting circles, and so far has produced 4,000. She’s coy about what she ultimately plans to do with them, though she recently hung them up on Vernon St. to take pictures and then promptly took them back down again.

“They may show up again,” she said.

On Merks’ Facebook page, she lists Nelson as her hometown.

“This is my spiritual home. I’ve lived in 32 places in my life, throughout the United States and Canada. And when I moved here with my husband Peter Bartl, we knew we were home, simple as that.”

 

Just Posted

RDCK to purchase lands around Cottonwood Lake

21.6 hectares will be purchased for $450,000

COLUMN: Helping my father keep his dignity as he was dying

Nelson teacher Robyn Sheppard reflects on the life and death of her father

Nelson presents proposed 2019 budget with undecided tax increase

Further details will be available after a council meeting in April.

Nelson to get legal opinion on right-to-life street banner

Does the Nelson Right to Life banner violate the Charter of Rights?

Celebrate World Water Day in Crescent Valley

The event is organized by the Perry Ridge Watershed Association

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Most Read