Vernon Public Art Gallery executive director Dauna Kennedy Grant shows the glass and metal sculpture designed and made by David Montpetit and Doug Alcock

Vernon Public Art Gallery executive director Dauna Kennedy Grant shows the glass and metal sculpture designed and made by David Montpetit and Doug Alcock

Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts moves on up to winery

Vernon Public Art Gallery moves its annual fundraiser, Midsummer's Eve of the Art auction and garden party, to Turtle Mountain Winery.

Change is in the air as the Vernon Public Art Gallery gets ready for its main fundraiser of the year.

With an emphasis on introducing more Shakespearean elements to the art auction/garden party that is Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts, the biggest change to the 27th annual event is its location.

Taking place Wednesday, July 17, Midsummer’s has been moved from downtown Vernon’s Cenotaph Park, where it was held the last two years, to Turtle Mountain Winery.

Owned by Sid and Min Sidhu, the winery above Bella Vista Road offers incredible views of Vernon and its surrounding areas, said VPAG executive director Dauna Kennedy Grant.

“This is a more intimate setting,” she said. “We wanted to get back to the spirit of the event and put the emphasis of it being a fundraiser. We are excited to have it at such a nice location.”

The Midsummer’s move is part of the gallery’s long-term vision of establishing a new location for its operations.

“We are trying to progress and raise the visibility of the gallery by making changes in the community and targeting a new audience. It’s been nerve racking for us with lots of preparation going into it,” said Kennedy Grant, adding this year’s MEA committee chairperson Ruth Hoyte has been a big part of spearheading this year’s event.

“Because the organization is evolving, we are looking at ways the event can transform and evolve, but we want to keep the outdoor party feel of it. The gallery is growing up and the event needs to grow up with it.”

Organizers also want to gradually develop the event into a more Shakespearean-themed affair, and this year have welcomed artist Tanya Lipscomb to create face and body paintings inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“We want to pull in that element,” said Kennedy Grant. “It’s such a natural theme with the name of our event. We will put in more next year and if people want to take the full theme and dress in character, then they are welcome to do so.”

With change come the elements that work for Midsummer’s Eve, and the art is on the top of that list.

Approximately 80 pieces of original and diverse artworks, from paintings, ceramics, prints, sculpture, photography, and drawings, have so far been donated to the auctions.

The works have once again been juried to go to bid in the live auction, with this year’s juror being celebrated printmaker Briar Craig, a UBC Okanagan creative studies professor.

“We want fair prices, so we have made changes that way. The emphasis is on this being a fundraiser, and it’s nice to get a bargain on art, but also to respect the artist for donating. The last few years we have seen great support from the artists. This couldn’t happen without them,” said Kennedy Grant, adding the VPAG is holding a separate reception for the artists, sponsors and donors to MEA Thursday at the gallery as a way to thank them personally.

The live auction will once again be overseen by world champion auctioneers Don and Peter Raffan of Armstrong’s Valley Auction Ltd., who will also be accepting bids for gift certificates and packages for photo shoots, massages, mountain tours, hotel accommodations, a martini basket, and a dinner for six to the Grapevine Restaurant at Gray Monk Estate Winery in Lake Country.

And don’t forget the garden party element.

Returning to this year’s event is The Fig Catering, who will serve sumptuous appetizers and desserts, while Cobs Bread and Village Cheese will also have samples of their locally made products. Gray Monk and Okanagan Spring are once again supplying the wine and beer, respectively, while Okanagan Spirits will concoct a signature cocktail — a hit with the guests last year, said Kennedy Grant.

The sultry blues and jazz of local act Kath and the TomKats will also be performed while guests mingle.

The artwork for Midsummer’s is currently on display at the VPAG, and some pre-bids will be accepted for those unable to attend the event in person.

For those who wish to dress up and enjoy the views and everything that comes with it, tickets for this year’s MEA at Turtle Mountain Winery, July 17 at 7 p.m., are $50 and available at the gallery. Call 250-545-3173 for more information.