Josee-Anne Desmarais experiments with watercolour paints at a previous Vernon Public Art Gallery’s Art After Dark. Now in its fourth year, Art After Dark sweeps through the gallery Feb. 23. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

VPAG gets verbose with Art After Dark

Now in its fourth year, Art After Dark takes the Vernon Public Art Gallery Feb. 23

The art world can be intimidating. Luckily, the Vernon Public Art Gallery works hard to make art accessible for everyone.

That’s a partial inspiration behind the gallery’s Art After Dark soirée-style art party Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

Now in its fourth year, Art After Dark coincides with Briar Craig’s Words on Paper (and other things), Kevin Spetifore’s What’s Around the Corner?, Sage Sidley’s Planes of View and Pat Raphael Derrickson, Michelle Jack, Dean Louis and Sheldon Pierre Louis of Kama? Aboriginal Art Collective’s Appropriation.

“We always try to base Art After Dark on the exhibitions we have,” said VPAG executive director Dauna Kennedy Grant. “What will be different (this time) is the interaction around the exhibitions.”

As crowds peruse the fine arts on display at the gallery, glass of wine or beer in one hand and appetizers in the other, they have the opportunity to connect with a large magnetic wall, as part of Craig’s Words on Paper (and other things) exhibition. Words and letter groupings, reminiscent of newspaper cutouts, splatter the Goliath black board, like a Wassily Kandinsky piece that utilizes words rather than watercolours.

Participants can jumble the words found in the interactive piece to craft sentences, stories, or visual masterpieces.

“That will be an interesting activity,” Kennedy Grant said of Craig’s exhibition, noting that gallery visitors have had fun with the board since it took up residence on the wall in January. “It’s always interesting to see what they come up with.”

VPAG marketing and programming coordinator Laura Ashton agreed.

“It’s been great that the last two Art After Darks have been during interactive exhibitions.”

Also on offer will be a community-crafted colour swatch collage inspired by Spetifore’s What’s Around the Corner.

“We envision having all the swatches on the table, stepping back to see how it comes together,” Ashton said.

Everyone at Art After Dark can participate in the collage by using colour swatches provided by the gallery to craft a 4×8 piece of art, which will be documented by VPAG and posted on their social media channels.

With tunes by DJ Chris Spin, it’s a cocktail-chic party VPAG has cultivated over the event’s four-year history.

“The old favourites will be back,” Kennedy Grant said, highlighting the ever-popular photo booth complete with props.

Like the Art After Darks of yore, the VPAG event seeks to bring fresh faces into the gallery.

“It’s an opportunity to put on something a little special,” Kennedy Grant said. “It’s an excuse to get dressed up and kind of change the environment for everyone.”

And the timing couldn’t have been better, Kennedy Grant said.

“If people want to buy their significant other tickets for Valentine’s Day, they can give them the tickets that day and come (for Art After Dark) soon.”

Sponsored by longtime VPAG supporters Woolley & Co., tickets for Art After Dark are available online through www.vernonpublicartgallery.com and at the gallery for $20 or $15 for members. Suggested attire is cocktail party chic.

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