Artist Bob Kingsmill works on one of his Business Birds at his Coldstream studio. His ceramic  pieces can now be viewed in an exhibition at Gallery Vertigo in downtown Vernon.

Artist Bob Kingsmill works on one of his Business Birds at his Coldstream studio. His ceramic pieces can now be viewed in an exhibition at Gallery Vertigo in downtown Vernon.

Vertigo flies into new exhibition season

Artist-run gallery features the abstract work of UBC Okanagan fine art grads and a bird’s eye view by Coldstream potter Bob Kingsmill.

The walls are not the only thing covered as Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo flies into the fall season.

The gallery is presenting the abstract paintings on canvas and paper by UBC Okanagan fine art grads Renae Roles and Josie Thiessen, as well as the whimsical avian-themed, three-dimensional works of celebrated Coldstream artist Bob Kingsmill.

In Navigating Skins – Painting the Unseen, guest curated by Katie Brennan, Thiessen and Roles use the process of creating a painting as a way to explore how objects, ideas and images can be transmuted into something more.

“The show of seductive paintings explores how abstraction can better represent those in-between, intangible ideas and moments than realistic representation, painting things exactly as you see them, can,” said Brennan. “For both of these artists, painting is an exploratory practice in which one is both a creator and discoverer, navigating new terrain and recording their personal experience of it in their paintings.”

Born in Richmond and now living in Kelowna, Thiessen explores the edge between realistic and abstract in her artwork.

“I like when the boundaries are pushed, so that it could go either way; where something is abstract but it’s also realistic,” she said.

In her painting, End Zone Play, Thiessen has mapped out an ultimate frisbee game against the backdrop of a brooding storm stained onto the canvas. The diagram lines and the storm, are a score of movement or moments that have yet to occur, like how air molecules actually move when you throw a frisbee through the air, she said.

“The lines of motion around the frisbee thrower are also a way for me to visually explore this movement of rhythm in to describe the tension of a dialogue within the heart,” added Thiessen.

Vernon raised artist Roles, who now lives in Lake Country, has also studied psychology and anatomy, which have had a strong influence on her work.

“Human perception shapes our relationship to what we see,” said Roles, adding that she chooses a colour palette of pink and orange skin-like tones to emphasize a visceral quality to the forms she creates, which are often abstractions of organs and other organic building blocks.

“Abstract forms open up your concept of things. They push the definition of what something is. They widen the associations.”

A more whimsical view of the world can be seen in Vertigo’s Gallery Two with the ceramic work of Kingsmill.

A sculptor and potter, who has studios at his home in Coldstream as well as on Granville Island in Vancouver, Kingsmill’s masks are widely collected and his wall murals hang in homes and public buildings in many countries around the world.

“With a new whimsical direction called Business Birds, Bob shows his mastery of clay and how to imbed a fantastic sense of humour into each and every piece,” said Heidi Maddess, Gallery Vertigo director.

Kingsmill began making ceramic objects in Winnipeg under the tutelage of Muriel Guest. In 1967, he moved to Kelowna and in the Okanagan Mission opened his first studio where he produced stoneware and raku-fired pieces.

He initiated the Mission Hall Sale, which in 2007 celebrated 40 years in existence, helping Okanagan potters gain recognition for their work.

In the ‘70s, Kingsmill moved to the coast and set up a studio on Bowen Island, where he put together his first book, A Catalogue of B.C. Potters. In 1979, he opened the studio on Granville Island, which he continues to maintain to this day while making his home in Coldstream.

During his career, Kingsmill has given workshops and taught classes at Capilano and Malaspina colleges, as well as for the outreach program at Emily Carr College of Art and Design.

Known locally for his three bronze masks that now rest on the facade of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, Kingsmill’s work can also be found at Vancouver Childrens’ Hospital, St. Andrew’s Theological College at the University of British Columbia, a professor’s retreat in Cambridge, England, two public buildings in Victoria, Kelowna’s Community Theatre, Vernon’s Hospice House, and private collections in Canada, the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, Korea, New Zealand and Africa, to name a few.

The public will have a chance to meet Thiessen, Roles and Kingsmill at a public reception at Gallery Vertigo Sept. 15 from 7 to 9 p.m. All exhibitions are now open for viewing at the gallery until Oct. 20.