Headbones is back and refreshed

It’s been several years since Headbones Gallery graced Vernon’s 30th Avenue with its avant garde collection, revolving exhibitions, and exotic events.

Coldstream artist Heidi Thompson

Coldstream artist Heidi Thompson

It’s been several years since Headbones Gallery graced Vernon’s 30th Avenue with its avant garde collection, revolving exhibitions, and exotic events.

Closed in 2001, when owner/artist Julie Oakes moved to New York City, the gallery was later reestablished in Toronto, and has since made a name for itself on the contemporary art scene.

And now Oakes and Headbones are back to give both local and international artists, and those who appreciate art, a new home right here in Vernon.

“My family is here, mom and dad in Victoria, and my children right here in the valley, and the time was right,” said Oakes about returning to Vernon. “Everything fell into place –– we found the perfect piece of land, were able to buy it, had already been designing the space to accommodate art…, and we felt we could contribute to the cultural fabric.”

Designed by Oakes, and built by her partner Richard Fogerty, with help from her son, the newly-constructed 3,000 square-foot building is located on Old Kamloops Road, and has a number of exhibition spaces, including a 60-foot long picture gallery, 24-foot tall ceilings in the studio, and two residences for visiting artists.

“As it happens, I have never had a more copacetic atmosphere. I love working here in my eyrie, overlooking Swan Lake –– a bird sanctuary as I work on my porcelain birds,” said Oakes. “And since I have a solo show at The Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in April with a large gallery to fill, I have to be concentrated on my practice and produce.”

Fogerty (the former owner of The Electric Paper printing company in Vernon) is serving as the gallery’s director and curator, and will continue to promote the artists he worked with out east, while managing the exhibitions at the gallery’s new locale.

He has published and produced a number of catalogues featuring artists in the Headbones’ collection, which can be viewed at the gallery.

As in Toronto, Headbones continues to devote space to The Drawers, a project initiated by in 2005, consisting of hundreds of unframed original drawings and works on paper by artists from around the world. Now located in Vernon, collectors, curators and interested visitors are welcome to access this diverse selection of paper works, and the works are also viewable online and in printed catalogue form.

The Drawers will be open at three new exhibitions, under the title Refresh, opening at Headbones next week.

In the Picture Gallery is The Color Experience, which features large colour field paintings by Coldstream-based artist Heidi Thompson.

“Heidi Thompson is the perfect artist to begin within our Picture Gallery,” said Oakes, adding Headbones presented Thompson’s smaller works on paper in an exhibition in Toronto a few years ago, as well as her work in Vernon back in 2000.

“To be able to show her big paintings is a privilege and, believe me, she will make our Picture Gallery shine.”

Thompson’s recent paintings have been shown around North America, with solo exhibitions in Atlanta, Ga., San Diego, Calif., and Grand Forks.

Her paintings are also in tune with her personal spiritual practice of Vipassana meditation, and breathing techniques, which she will share in a demonstration at the gallery, Feb. 13.

An introduction to the meditation will conclude with a 45 minute practice session. Anyone interested is welcome to attend. (Wear comfortable clothing and bring a cushion, blanket or shawl.)

Also opening at Headbones is Tweener, a recent body of neo-psychedelic works by London, Ont.-based artist and wrestler Scott McEwan, on display in the Drawers Gallery.

McEwan’s work comes via his solo exhibition in Berlin, Germany.

No stranger to Headbones, the artist was included in the exhibitions NeoPRIEST and A Weird Queer Freaky Christmas, where the studio hosted a live wrestling performance equipped with a regulation wrestling ring and five participating wrestlers.

His artwork has also been previously selected for the catalogue cover to promote the Toronto Alternative Art Fair International.

The Paper Gallery features a selection of works on paper from The Drawers’ collection with work by three artists, Vancouver’s Robert Bigelow, Toronto’s Steve Rockwell, and New York’s Katia Santibanez.

 Visitors will also be able to view several design works by Vernon-based artist Carl St. Jean, as well as Oakes’ working studio.

An opening reception for all the exhibitions takes place Thursday, Feb. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. (Due to recent weather and the steepness of Headbones’ driveway, visitors are asked to park at the Kin Race Track, where a shuttle will ferry them to the gallery and back.) The exhibitions continue to March 20.

Regular gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, phone 250-542-8987 or visit www.headbonesgallery.com.