The Vernon Public Art Gallery is starting the new year in style with four new exhibitions opening Thursday.
Of all the artists involved in the solo and collaborative exhibitions, the majority of them are from the Okanagan area, including Vernon.
Benny Hannya lives in Vernon, Rhonda Neufeld is from Armstrong and Stephen Lee Scott also calls the Okanagan his home.
“It is exciting to see the quality of art produced by the artists living and working in this area,” said VPAG curator Lubos Culen. “The gallery is pleased to create venues for emerging and established artists and highlight the importance of their contribution to the visual arts and culture in general.
“All four upcoming exhibitions carry a strong conceptual underpinning within the context of contemporary art practices that include artistic collaboration, urban art forms, drawing, and experimental printmaking.”
Neufeld joins Vancouver-based artist Rodney Konopaki in a talk at the gallery’s opening reception to discuss their co-exhibition of prints and mixed media drawings.
Titled Drawn Passages, the exhibition is a recent addition to the artists’ on-going collaboration, which first began in 2007.
The drawings and prints produced over that four-year span attest to the evolving mode of operation in which the artists have approached their given subject matter, said Culen.
“When viewing the works, one must ask the inevitable question as to what the purpose of the collaboration is, and why each artist is willing to abolish sole control of the process and in turn, authorship of a finished work of art,” he said. “The images exhibit disciplined sensibilities by both artists; the action of one artist is not contradicted by the action of the other. The result is found in the final product that reflects their intent, which is artistically and conceptually complementary.”
In turn, emerging Okanagan-based artist Scott has focused on the portrayal of dystopian subjects appropriated from popular culture and historical references in his exhibition, Beauty and Other Forms of Violence.
While Scott’s artistic interest and practice reference formal classical portraiture, his interpretation of the subjects is based on aesthetic features which often challenge the norms of acceptable social behavior, said Culen.
“The installation of portraiture drawings of historical and invented characters is also reminiscent of rogues gallery: a collection of photographed mug shot images of individuals of shady or questionable character,” he said.
“Scott’s incorporation of cryptic symbols that adorn the figures offers the viewers a glimpse into the lives and spectacles of these obscure personages within a broader context of plausible, yet incomplete and fragmented narratives.”
Another joint exhibit features the work of local artists Hannya and Cody Moyor, who have extensive experience in contemporary street art.
The work in While You Were Sleeping will be produced directly on the gallery walls using spray paint, together with an aesthetic and technical approach to urban graffiti, said Culen,
“The installation addresses important issues surrounding the discourse of the legitimacy of urban art and its function within a community,” he said. “Additional aspects of this project include the temporary nature of the work created specifically for the duration of this exhibition, which also challenges the notion of the commodification of an art object.”
Advance printmaking students at UBC Okanagan are also returning to the VPAG with their second annual Proof Positive show.
Organized by associate professor of printmaking Briar Craig, with the help of fourth year UBCO fine arts student Heather Leier, who curated the exhibition, Proof Positive II is the result of numerous entries submitted by students.
Leier made a selection of 17 works produced by 11 students, and the prints in the exhibition are a comprehensive sample of a variety of printmaking techniques taught and practiced in the UBCO fine arts program, including forms of intaglio, lithography, relief printing, and UV screen printing.
Participating artists in the exhibition include Jon Corbett, Angela Duclos, Lauren Gemmell, Ursula Kabis, Malcolm McCormick, Jason Negreiff, Camille Selhorst, Lacia Vogel, Victoria Wan, Tony Wang, and Laura Widmer.
The VPAG welcomes guests to attend the opening reception for all exhibitions on Thursday, Jan. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. Konopaki and Neufeld will discuss their work in Drawn Passages that night at 6 p.m. Special musical guest Windmills will perform following the artist talk.
All exhibitions continue at the gallery until March 22. For more information, visit www.vernonpublicartgallery.com or call 250-545-3173.