The Vernon Public Art Gallery has added to its permanent collection with 12 sand landscapes by local artist Paul Jones. One of the works (above) will go to auction at the gallery’s main fundraiser of the year

The Vernon Public Art Gallery has added to its permanent collection with 12 sand landscapes by local artist Paul Jones. One of the works (above) will go to auction at the gallery’s main fundraiser of the year

Sand painting to be part of Midsummer’s auction

Vernon Public Art Gallery adds to its permanent collection with sand landscapes donated by local artist Paul Jones.

To look at the paintings of Paul Jones is to absorb the salty sea and mountainous landscape of this grand province we call home.

For the 92-year-old, the grains of sand that work as paint on his canvasses represent a lifetime immersed in the arts.

Jones has just donated 12 of his sand paintings to the Vernon Public Art Gallery (VPAG) to be a part of its permanent collection. One of the paintings will go on auction at this Wednesday’s 26th annual Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts fundraiser, being held for a second year at Cenotaph Park in downtown Vernon.

Asked why he made the donation, Jones replied, “That’s where I think they should be. I wanted them to live on, and this was the best place for them to be.”

Having Jones’ work as part of the VPAG collection, which includes more than 500 pieces including those by Allan Brooks, Sveva Caetani, Jessie Topham Brown and Axel Ebring, is a way to preserve some of the local history, said VPAG curator Lubos Culen.

“Part of our mandate is to preserve local foremost as part of a time capsule,” he said. “We already had a piece by Paul, but to acquire a body of work is important as it attains to local history and preserves it for the future.”

Jones’ artwork symbolizes the B.C. landscape in more ways than one. The sand was actually collected from local beaches and from other locations around the province.

“I would have ice cream buckets filled from everywhere I went, ”said Jones, adding he fabricated his own tools to create the paintings. “It is an organic medium and represents what I was trying to say.”

Also a published author and a founding director of the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Society, Jones’ history as both an artist and arts supporter goes back more than 50 years to the time he met Vernon-born artist Janet “Holly” Middleton.

Jones, like Middleton, would end up in Banff, where he studied at the Banff school of arts for three summers.

“Holly stayed there,” he said. “She was a real spark plug in my era. She lifted the art movement in Vernon. She had a studio and was one of the great teachers who inspired me to go to Banff.”

Jones’ history with the VPAG goes as far back to when he first showed his work at the United Church Hall, then on 27th Street.

He worked for the gallery when it was built in 1967 in what is now the B.C. Access Centre, and then joined its board of directors, serving as both president and secretary.

“I recruited many for the board over the years,” he said.

When the gallery moved to its current space below the city parkade, Jones hung shows as the preparator.

“He is a lifetime member and has seen the evolution of the gallery,” said VPAG executive director Dauna Kennedy Grant. “Having his work at Midsummer’s is also important as it will highlight the gallery’s permanent collection and the importance of it. To present a work by one of our permanent artists brings excitement to the event.”

The gallery has already received more than 80 pieces donated by Okanagan artists for the annual live and silent auctions. Title sponsor for the event is once again Predator Ridge Golf Resort.

This year, works were juried to go into the live auction, which will once again be put on the block by world champion cattle auctioneers Peter Raffan and Rod Burnett of Armstrong’s Valley Auction.

Most of the works, including paintings, sculpture and pottery, are currently on display in the gallery as well as at some local businesses downtown, said Kennedy Grant.

“We are also taking pre-bids this year and the minimum offer will go to the live auction,” she said.

Those who purchase a ticket to Midsummer’s can also enjoy food served by the Sprouted Fig and Itty Bitty Catering as well as a featured drink provided by Okanagan Spirits. A cash bar will serve both Okanagan Spring ale and Gray Monk wines. Dr. Sharon McCoubrey, a professor at UBC Okanagan and chair of the Lake Country Art Walk, will emcee the event, while local musical group Zentangle will perform.

Wednesday’s event at Cenotaph Park starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and include appetizers and a complimentary beverage. They are available from the Vernon Public Art Gallery, 250-545-3173, vernonpublicartgallery.com, or the Ticket Seller at 250-549-SHOW (7469), ticketseller.ca.