Artists from the Okanagan Artists of Canada Society will have their masterpieces shown for the month of March at the old Bentley store in the Village Green Shopping Centre starting March 2, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Art breathes new life in empty store in Vernon

Mall and non-profit artists society team up for temporary gallery opportunity

A vacant storefront at the Village Green Shopping Centre was given a temporary facelift as members of the Okanagan Artists of Canada Society (OACS) hung their paintings along the display wall for the month of March.

The former Bentley store will serve as a temporary art gallery for the non-profit society for the next four weeks.

“The Village Green is a really community-centred mall,” organizer Sharon Bettesworth said.

That community-focused mindset aligns well with the organization’s own motto: “Artists helping artists,” she noted.

Showcasing the works of art at the mall is a new endeavour for the society, which is celebrating their 75th anniversary, and the mall has already guaranteed space for another showcase to be held in June.

The OACS is comprised of 75 talented artists from Vernon and surrounding areas, and another 20 waiting patiently on the waitlist. It is one of the oldest art associations in the province and many of its alumni have become well known across the country.

Formed in 1945 as the Vernon Artist Association, the organization was registered under the Societies Act in 1968. After a few more name changes, it became the Okanagan Artists of Canada Society in 2017.

The society’s president, Sharon Isaaks said it’s a great group of artists.

“We have five directors,” she said. “It’s a fun group.”

Artists will be available to speak to potential buyers and art aficionados at the mall Fridays, between 6-8 p.m., and weekends from 12-2 p.m.

Media spokeswoman Diana Gritten said this isn’t the only show in the works for the society.

To mark the important anniversary, a show will be held at the Gallery Vertigo for the month of May.

Artists will showcase their works celebrating “the place where we live,” at the Three Cheers for 75 Years show. The opening reception is slated for May 9, from 6-8 p.m.

OACS is also preparing for its artist’s retreat in Sorrento this fall. There, artists will take in a three-day workshop learning from some of the best, including Roberta Combs, Louise Decharime and Gale Woodhouse.

OACS is also planning ahead to its popular annual art show and sale, which takes place in October at Paddlewheel Park.

“It’s a really popular event,” Gritten said. “Last year, we had to hire a parking attendant.”

Isaaks said last year saw more than 800 people visit and more than $13,000 worth of paintings sold. Food donations were also collected on behalf of the food bank.

For more information on the society visit

READ MORE: Overwhelming support for new Okanagan Indian Band school: Survey

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