“Art Exposed” at the Old Courthouse
“I don’t just see art on the walls, I see windows into the community,” said Vaughn Warren, one of three judges in the “Art Exposed” community exhibition.
Throngs of viewers, artists and one sweaty arts reporter stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the Old Kamloops Courthouse, anxiously awaiting the results of the judging. Artwork in various mediums, 2D and 3D, covered any and all spare space on the walls, constructed room dividers, hallways, and platforms.
The unique aspect of this gallery opening is that it features local artists, all with varying skill levels.
“It’s nice to see this facility packed with art and full of people. It was an open exhibition, meaning it wasn’t juried to enter the competition. The idea was inclusivity,” Warren said.
“The ages and talent levels in this show couldn’t have been more diverse. In the juried selection, I think, the youngest artist was 15 and the woman who won was 77. As far as skill levels go, you’re seeing competent to expert,” he said.
The Kamloops Art Council’s “Art Exposed” exhibition opened on Friday, Feb. 27. It features paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, clothing and many other media.
Local artist Wendy Patrick took first place in 2D with a close-up drawing of a section of the Great Wall of China. Patrick describes her process as intricate and deliberate.
“It takes an hour per square inch to do my drawings. I’ve drawn all my life, it’s always been my medium and I love it,” she said.
Many artists have their work available for sale or rent, but Patrick opted against selling hers.
“When I brought them in, I said, ‘I feel like I’m delivering my babies!’ I couldn’t bring myself to sell this one,” Patrick said.
Patrick remains active with her practice and spends time teaching seniors the craft. Her medium of choice is coloured pencil and encourages others to try it, because she is confident that “anybody can do this.”
Shows like “Art Exposed” function as a networking and support tool for artists. Kirsten Atkins has been a working artist since 1988 and was awarded a honourable mention for one of her works.
“The Arts Council here has got to be the most supportive. I come from a town that is all art, the Klondike in the Yukon. Coming from there, where it’s really hard to break into a scene, they are very noses up. If you fit in, you fit in,” Atkins said.
“Here it’s not like that at all, it’s amazing. There’s no animosity, all artists are very supportive of one another.”
Atkins, and others, find support through their fellow artists and the arts community that time and time again echoes sentiments of inclusivity and collaboration.
“You’re always seeing new and upcoming artists. Young, or even older and just entering the art scene. Generally their art is well received, tonight’s show is proof of that,” gallery viewer Bonnie Bylsma said.
“We are known to be the tournament capital of Canada, [with] the whole sports scene and that’s wonderful. But I love this other piece that we have. We have the symphony, theatre productions of such high quality, and local visual artists,” she said.
If viewers are interested in checking out the work in a more laidback setting, away from the droves of viewers that were the hallmark of opening night, “Art Exposed” is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until March 8.
As with any other community, non-profit organization, the Kamloops Art Council is always in need of help, be it in the form of donations or volunteers.
The most pressing issue for local artists, according to Warren, is the lack of space to display work.
“[They need] venue space, to just show art. It’s tight in town. It crosses over to live music, too. It’s tough to find a venue space in town that works. There’s a selection, but it isn’t robust,” Warren said.
Getting exposure as an artist, be it a musician or otherwise, continues to be one of the biggest obstacles. With a community as large and supportive as Kamloops, local artists need business owners to come forward with venue space.
With a continued mindset and practice of collaboration and support, the future looks bright for the Kamloops art community.