The magazine Canadian Art recently ran an article on a new place to keep an eye open for art – the Okanagan.
Here in the Valley, there are artists whose reputations go beyond the local populace and their work is attracting an international eye, says Headbones Gallery owner Julie Oakes.
Headbones is about to bring some of those artists to Vernon with its new group exhibition, Shhh, Good Art Up and Down the Okanagan.
“This valley is rich but it is not necessary to keep it under wraps for art itself is generous,” said Oakes. “It’s made to be shared. Up and down the Okanagan, there is a cultural treasure and we don’t have to go to New York to see it, though in the end it may be where it is eventually exhibited.”
A celebrated artist in her own right, Oakes is presenting her latest painting, Totem: Cat by the Tail and Swinging, which measures 21-feet tall, as part of the Headbones show before her blue glass bird installation, Blue Tornado Redux, based on an exhibition she had at the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery in Waterloo, opens at the Vernon Public Art Gallery July 28.
Also showing at Headbones are paintings by Patricia Kushner and Amy Modahl, both of whom have had recent solo exhibitions at public art galleries in Penticton and Kelowna, respectively.
“This year we will be welcoming Herald Nix, who is also an accomplished musician, and Samuel Adhi, who has chosen to present his work by another name (AKA) in order to allow the impact of the work to stand on its own steam,” said Oakes.
Joice and John Hall, the latter whose work is currently exhibited at the Kelowna Art Gallery, are showing their colourful paintings known for their vivid realism.
Diane Feught is creating a new piece specifically for the exhibition, while Penticton’s Glenn Clark, whose hockey exhibition, Wackem-Sackem, brought in a whole new audience to Headbones, has turned his brush to the automotive with his painting of a car rusting its way into the past.
Abstraction comes in the form of new works by Robert Dmytruk and Heidi Thompson, along with landscape references by David Alexander, Carin Covin, Anne Kipling, Mary Smith McCulloch, Rhonda Neufeld, Rodney Konopaki and David Wilson, whose work is also informed by his indigenous roots, and the whimsical ceramic sculptures of Leonhard Epp.
“Expressionist paper works by Gary Pearson bring city grit to the Okanagan, while Briar Craig’s prints keep the urban beat going. Steven Lee Scott’s ink coloured drawings have the tint of tattoos, and photographer Fern Helfand sophisticates her subjects with her practised lens,” said Oakes. “Jen Dyck riffs on anything zany with her signature fractured social scenes, while Steve Mennie and Johann Feught keep viewers guessing with their disciplined realism, or is it manipulated abstraction?”
Outside in Headbones’ Skulpture Garden, visitors can enjoy the gigantic chair, far too high for anyone to sit on, created by Byron Johnson. The Chair for a Town Councillor sits more than 30-feet tall and is surrounded by metal creations by Doug Alcock, AJ Jaeger and Crystal Przybille.
“Rather than going away to find art we can use it to bring people here,” said Oakes. “The viewing audience brings people, often internationals, to locations outside of the big city centers and they come because the word has spread that there is something to see that makes it worth taking the trip.”
The opening reception for Headbones’ Shhh, Good Art Up and Down the Okanagan is July 22 from 6 to 8 p.m., with artists in attendance (please note that parking is limited). The show continues to Sept. 10. Headbones is located at 6700 Old Kamloops Rd.