Some people in the Okanagan may know the artist Jim Kalnin from the time he lived in Stock’s Meadow, the communal settlement between Fintry and Bear Creek.
Long before Okanagan Resort came to be a holiday destination, Westside Road was still gravel in parts.
“Around Nahun, it was a one-way, one-cart track where you had to toot to warn on-comers that you were in the advance mode,” remembered Vernon artist Julie Oakes, also a former Westside resident.
Oakes is about to welcome Kalnin to her current neck of the woods, and a soon-to-be newly paved road at that, hosting a solo exhibition of his artwork called Intrinsic Habitat at her Headbones Gallery on Old Kamloops Road.
Oakes describes Kalnin’s paintings and works on paper as a “poignant butterfly kiss with sincere, concerned humility at man’s place within the cosmos.”
“He doesn’t slap us towards consciousness, he eases us towards it,” she said. “He is not, nor has been, heavy handed in his approach to the issues of global sustainability… He has managed to find an intrinsic compromise between man and his environment both virtually and creatively.”
Those subtle messages reflect in Kalnin’s paintings.
In All Inclusive, a fish is shown flopped on top of a glassy high-rise building –– the windows of the structure reflecting the airy sky.
“It puts the size of man in direct relationship to the dilemma of man’s dominion over the other species,” said Oakes. “The inhabitants of this building would not measure up to a fish tail-bone. Kalnin has placed within the painting’s modest frame a reverberating image.”
Oakes also points to a painting Kalnin did in 2005, of a bear roaming upright through a cityscape.
“There was more stature and presence in that bear than in the sophisticated landscape it traversed through. But there was also something lost in Mr. Bear’s walk through the cement city,” she said.
After teaching fine art at Okanagan (University) College, Kalnin moved on to become a professor at UBC Okanagan, retiring in 2010.
“In his wake, he has left a successive generation of young visual artists who continue to address the influence of modernity on the natural environment,” said Oakes, adding Kalnin has retired to an intrinsic environment himself.
“When he moved away from Stock’s Meadow and into Kelowna, he and his partner, Lois, purchased an old church in Lake Country where he has lived and worked for many years. Artwork now graces the interior and creative landscaping, including a waterfall, compliment the spiritually intended building.”
Headbones opens Kalnin’s Intrinsic Habitat on Thursday with a public reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Musical guest will be another Westside resident, Dale Zeitch, an organic gardener and co-founder of Little Creek Dressing. He will be performing the songs of Bob Dylan.
The exhibition runs at Headbones Gallery, located at 6700 Old Kamloops Rd., to Nov. 3. Hours are 12 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday or call 250-542-8987 for an appointment.