Gallery Vertigo hosts event that can’t be duplicated

Gallery Vertigo celebrates 10 years as Vernon's artist-run centre and hosts its annual fundraiser, the Almost Famous Art Auction.

Judith Jurica's three-by-four-foot oil on canvas

Judith Jurica's three-by-four-foot oil on canvas

Gallery Vertigo celebrates its 10th year as a non-profit, artist-run gallery with its annual Almost Famous Art Exhibition and Auction on Saturday.

With this year’s theme “Gin and Sin,” the exhibition will feature reproductions of works by artists working from 1900-1955.

Established in 2002, the gallery and artists will also be celebrating all the successes of the last 10 years, as well as anticipating challenges inherent in any non-profit, community-run organization.

“The North Okanagan has an incredibly vibrant and diverse arts community, and an incredibly generous one,” said Vertigo director and visual artist Heidi Maddess. “There are just so many arts-related things to support in our area – it’s an embarrassment of riches, talent-wise, and sometimes a bit of a struggle, funding-wise.”

Gallery Vertigo grew out of a small group of local artists who began to meet in local coffee shops, restaurants and pubs in the late-1990s. The group quickly grew in size and in December, 2000, held a group exhibition in a vacant storefront in Vernon’s downtown district.

Encouraged by the overwhelming response from both local artists and the public, the association, which had grown to about 40 artists at the time, incorporated as North Okanagan Artists Alternative, a registered non-profit society in February of 2001.

In the spring of 2002, a core group of artists rented the second story of the historic Winnipeg Union Bank building on the corner of 30th Avenue and 31st Street, and renovated it at their own expense to launch Gallery Vertigo, the North Okanagan’s first and only artist-run gallery.

It houses studios for working artists, two exhibition spaces, and the society is more than 160 members strong. The gallery also hosts a weekly drop-in art program for youth called Smarties, every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

“The society and the gallery really are run on the energy, passion and generosity of our members and volunteers, many of whom are not only working artists, but who have one or more other jobs, families, and are involved in a number of community activities,” said Maddess. “It’s a labour of love for all of us, but well worth it.”

Vertigo artists hope that anyone interested in art will come out and celebrate with them on Saturday night.

“Not only will there be great works of art to be auctioned, it will just be a really fun atmosphere,” said Maddess, adding the evening will include martini cocktails, and music by 1950s and ‘60s crooners.

All patrons are also encouraged to come dressed in their finest garb of the era. (Think TV show Mad Men for some inspiration.)

“You don’t need to dress up to come but, by all means, we encourage creativity,” said Maddess.

Almost Famous takes place Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Bean Scene and Gallery Vertigo, which is located upstairs at #1-3001 31st St. For more information, call 250-503-2297.