In April, I started writing newspaper articles for the Westside Weekly once again, focused on the arts council and activities, events and partnerships between westside artists, community groups and businesses.
These seem to be received in a positive light. There is so much to write about, it’s hard to choose the subjects for each week. I’m working on keeping up to listing images of the articles on line, and if you would like a closer read of any of them, please send me a note. There is a gallery of newspaper article images below.
A big heartfelt thank you to Doyle Pontenteau, my editor (it’s so cool to say that!) for his guidance and insight into the newspaper and editorial industry.
For the last four months since Westside Culture Days, this has been the focus of much of my time. I am proud to be part of an outstanding, motivated and active team who cares about our community and wants to make a positive impact here on the westside. I hope you join us and be part of this ground breaking organization that joins aboriginal and non aboriginal, business, artists and governments working together side by side. Come to our public launch, a luncheon during Heritage Week at the Cove Lakeside Resort, sponsored by the Greater Westside Board of Trade. More info follows below.
Suk’ʷtəmsqilxʷ (sook tem skayl hoo) West Kelowna Arts Council (SWAC) came into being after the inaugural Westside Culture Days 2014 weekend. In October 2014, after recognizing the enthusiasm of the attendees from both the businesses and the artists, a call went out to all Culture Days participants to see if forming an arts council on the west side of the bridge was relevant and timely. The response was highly favourable. This new arts council hopes to bring awareness to our diverse and rich cultural resources by working with interested and invested businesses.
The arts council connects two distinct governments through culture. The Okanagan word “Suk’ʷtəmsqilxʷ” means “half indigenous, half non-indigenous” and represents the connection between two worlds. Suk’ʷtəmsqilxʷ celebrates and demonstrates the council’s unique positioning. By utilizing a First Nation word in the name, the arts council recognizes West Kelowna is part of the traditional, unceded lands of the Syilx people.
The incorporation team solidified over the next two months. The inaugural board consists of westside businesses and artists: artist Julia Trops, WFN Heritage Officer Tracy Satin, artist Rebekah Wilkinson, business graduate Brenna Mackaay and business student Kimberleigh Trops, artist Matthew Brown, film maker Jason Woodford, Westbank Blenz owner Melissa Brown, artist Pat Raphael, artist Ralph Carlson, Dogwood Nursery representative Arlene Currie, and artist Pat Huber.
In December, the incorporation documents were filed with the BC Government and the public launch is scheduled for the Greater Westside Board of Trade’s luncheon on February 18 at the Cove during the Canada’s Heritage Week. During that luncheon, attendees will be treated to the first members of the arts council and learn how they can be part of the action. Tickets are $20 for this event and may be purchased from Karen Beaubier, 250.768.3378 or email@example.com.
SWAC’s vision is one of cooperation, inclusion aimed at enriching our community by developing a vibrant cultural landscape. Our Constitution emphasizes the focus on community and partnership of artists, businesses and community members in events, cultural programs and education.
To date, many local artists and cultural creators have looked outside of our two westside communities to take advantage of needed cultural services such as exhibition and programming opportunities. This has created a void on the westside and the local population has no comprehensive identity or little cohesive structure for cultural activities. Our citizens have acknowledged this as a concern that needs to be addressed. By creating and fostering cultural activities, SWAC hopes to help to enrich the community and provide an avenue for cultural tourism.
I hope the community comes out for that weekend. There is a People’s Choice as well quite generously sponsored by Blenz and Opus, $200 cash and a $50 Blenz card, and a $100 gift card from Opus Arts and Framing.
The last few months have been taken up with Westside Culture Days, as well as work for Comic-Con and Gallery Odin. What is Westside Culture Days do you ask? Well, sit right down and I am happy to tell you!
Westside Culture Days came about because I am a big believer in community and I have been trying to think of a way to get artists and businesses to work together under one umbrella. In my book Art & Money, I talk about the benefits of businesses and artists working together. In the spring, my friend and fellow artist Vera Peltonen posted up a poster for an event she was involved in in Michigan.
I was immediately captivated by the possibilities here. The complaints normally heard on this side of the lake is that it is so spread out being about 20 square km, there are so many strip malls, so many business, so many failing because of the high cost of rent. Artists and creatives have no recourse for renting because of that rent and are pretty much invisible. Not only that but there are two governments on this side, both the Westbank First Nation (WFN) and District of West Kelowna (DWK) who don’t really get along. People live on WFN land and work on DWK land, and vice versa.
I thought wouldn’t it be great if this type of event could happen on this side of the lake? Wouldn’t it be great for the artists and cultural entities work together with businesses to go beyond the governmental problems? So it got me thinking …. Culture Days is coming up in September, it is May …. there is tons of time.
I approached my friend Melissa Brown who owns the Blenz here on the Westside. We talked about it, and she said that even if it just happens in her coffee shop, she is happy to participate. Then I went to talk to my friend Tracy Satin who is the Cultural Manager for the Westbank First Nation Sncəwips Heritage Museum. She was excited for the possibilities too. So we all made a plan. I went and talked to Bob Kusch with DWK who supported the idea, as well as Karen from Greater Westside Board of Trade. Tracy assigned Coralee Miller within the WFN Sncəwips Heritage Museum to work specifically on this project. Melissa talked to her many customers, also local business people, who got excited and many were able to grasp the vision and the passion.
Now, our locations for Westside Culture Days are WFN Sncəwips Heritage Museum, Westbank Shopping Centre, Dogwood Nursery, Main Street Westbank, Snya?tan Shopping Centre, Okanagan Landing Shopping Centre, Volcanic Winery, and more being added as businesses hear about it and artists talk about it. The landlord for Westbank Shopping Centre gave all the empty spaces and the use of the parking lots for free, we just have to get insurance for those three days to be able to use the empty spaces. I hope other landlords join in on that principle! Way to support your tenants Bentall-Kennedy!
We called it Westside Culture Days so that there is no differentiation between governments of WFN and DWK but included Westbank and West Kelowna as entities. We are a community and that is the focus. Below is a snapshot from the Westside Culture Days website, but you will probably hear more about this as time goes on. Small updates not yet published on that website are the inclusion of the Food Bank and the local Hockey teams.
The first press article… don’t you just love that sublimal and serendipitous ad … “Just got better” at the bottom?
Culture Days is a cross Canada cultural fair on Sep 26, 27 & 28. http://www.culturedays.ca. This event encourages creatives of all types and the public to interact in various ways some of them inventive and unusual. If you can think it, you can do it!
The Westside is a mix of very impersonal strip malls with many businesses scattered throughout the area and many spaces are empty. For this one weekend it could be very exciting to see the businesses cross the line of culture to participate in a very active way on this weekend. Some already are involved, and this could be a way for them to highlight it in a very visible way.
FOSTER appreciation and support of the artistic and cultural life that is lived, created and expressed across the country in urban, suburban and rural areas alike;
PROMOTE direct interaction between creators and citizens, as a key to increasing understanding and appreciation of art and culture; and
AFFIRM that every citizen is the guardian of the cultural life of his or her community.
Culture Days believes that every individual — regardless of age, location or experience — has the right to access and participate actively in arts and culture.
Culture Days also believes that the arts and cultural sector makes a vital contribution to the economic and social development of Canada and contributes to the overall health of the country.
People who had never participated in the arts before found it exciting and rewarding, finding a side of themselves they did not think existed. To us, that is what Culture Days is all about.
-Pam MacKenzie, Consolidated Artist Group of 7s (North Bay, ON)
I tend to work in series and projects almost like writing paragraphs that create chapters that creates a book. This particular series of works has to do with some soul searching, planting seeds, growing within and going beyond boundaries, and of course, the process of self-discovery. I feel these works are gentler than my past bold bright colours and to me, I can almost hear water lapping at the shore on a calm day. Each one has it’s own message, it’s own story to tell. I’ve labeled them as I see them but it is very possible when you look, you will see your own. I believe that what we see is a projection of what is inside, so please don’t let my titles hold you back.
All of these mixed media works started out from a life drawing in charcoal and progressed through acrylic to oil and throughout, some graphite. There was no direct expectation of expressing a specific thought, they evolved as they wished with me acting as conductor. Where I directed the flow was in the formal elements only.
If you would like to see the rest of the collection please visit www.juliatropsart.com. They are located in the Painting/Mixed Media section of the gallery. To purchase one of these works, please contact me. 20% of the purchase price will be donated to Canadian Blood Services. Below are a glimpse of works available at the Blood Donor Clinic. You may go and see them in person if you wish.
Excerpted from Word for Word: A Prairie Voice, 1996:
Venerated Prairie author W.O. Mitchell, 82, left a hospital bed in Calgary, where he is being treated for prostate cancer, and traveled to Winnipeg last week to address the annual meeting of the Writer’s Union of Canada. Some highlights:
“Death and solitude justify art, which draws human aliens together in a mortal family, uniting them against the heart of darkness. Humans must comfort each other, defend each other against the terror of being human.”
“All artists make or create, and the result is an important ingredient in the receipe for culture, for they are the bridges and patterns which connect us, which create human solidarity.”
“Artists, philosophers, historians know that man is a finite, warm sack of vulnerability and because of this knowledge they do have an unfair advantage over politicians and generals and quarterbacks.”
I was given these quotes from a gentleman who came to the Summerland Art Gallery Philosopher’s Cafe, where I was presenting with David Korinetz and Linda Lovisa. It struck some amazing chords within and it says everything about arts and the humanities and being human. Those who are in business should take note that they can not fail by championing the humanities, because it is what makes us who we are.
I get the feeling that artists are finally willing to stand up for themselves and not be bullied or “shamed” (you expect to be paid? but this is for charity!) in to donating their art, and I think that they would almost jump at any effort from non profits and businesses actually respecting their work as a valuable commodity… obviously it is valuable enough that their work is constantly requested for a silent auction or other fundraising project.
This is a problem that I feel personally invested in, and I’m trying to establish a win win scenario for all involved. I think I have found a way it can be done
It’s been a common goal of many businesses that they become more involved and invested in their local arts and culture. At the same time, I am suggesting that the non profit approach the idea of art in silent auctions or art in their fundraising schemes, in a different way. Here it is: they ask their favourite business to choose their favourite artist(s) and buy an artwork from them, then donating that work to their charity.
What would be the benefit to the business and the charity? Bragging rights of donating, bragging rights of supporting (really supporting as in $$) the local art scene, being able to pinpoint a favourite artist, plus they get their tax receipt for their purchase price from the organization supported by the receipt from the artist (why this is important will be explained in a minute). Because they are invested, they share this with their business partners and customers, boosting the event’s promotion, and the charity gains the exposure it so desperately needs. The artist and the artwork is respected. It becomes important for that business’ donated work to get a higher bid. I can’t see how this would fail. It just needs to be championed and done!
Better than nothing, you say?
There is a misconception that perhaps the artwork was originally purchased by someone and then donated to the charity for auctioning off. Nine point nine times out of ten, this is not the case. Charities who ask for work from artists expect it to be given for free, and we artists are expected to be honoured to be asked. (We aren’t.) Oh, but there is a reserve, and the artist gets paid 50 or 60 or 70% of the money coming in. What does that work out to, really? 50% of 30% of an artwork’s value… you tell me. It’s better than nothing, some people say. I say, artists, hold out for the brass ring, and keep a reserve all right … reserve your work for those who really respect it. There is no one strong arming you, and they came to you. Be the apple at the top of the tree.
Remember the point about a receipt? Canada Revenue also recently changed the guidelines for cultural donations. Quite frankly, it does not do artists or investors any favours. Normally, for cultural institutions such as public galleries, art is not purchased from the artist, it is donated by the artist, and or donated by the patron. The quick and dirty on that new CRA guideline is that artworks considered Cultural Property donated to Art Galleries and such, may be given a taxation receipt, but that receipt must be the value of what that patron paid for it, regardless of how many years ago. So that means is if an Emily Carr, for example, bought by Mr Z in 1960 for 20,000$ is donated to the local gallery, Mr Z will get a receipt for 20,000$, regardless if that Emily Carr was worth 2.5 million today.
Changes such as what CRA did for 2014 really highlights the necessity of creating clean donations. I would not be surprised to see CRA do audits on non profits, and really question why they are giving receipts to artists for their donation of artwork, when their artwork is getting less than 30% of the market value. I might be naive, but I really think there are businesses out there who don’t want to do what was always done, and who are looking at a way to become personally invested in the local art scene, and perhaps support some local organizations at the same time. I’d be interested in connecting with these businesses, so if you are one of them, send me a note.
Recently, a number of people asked me to comment on Ryan Robson’s “Lady-Like” exhibit and what happened in those subsequent weeks. I’ve taken some time to think about the events and the subject and for what it is worth, here are my thoughts.
If you aren’t familiar with it, the story is documented here:
“After receiving a number of concerns, we thought the time frame for this exhibit maybe should be left at two weeks. During that time almost all of our college community would have had time to experience the art,” Lister says.
So here are the facts as I see them:
Ryan Robson is a local Vernon artist.
Gallery Vertigo, an artist run gallery, has an agreement with the Kalamalka Okanagan College satellite campus in Vernon to have artworks on display for one month, so by my math, that is four weeks.
There was no financial cost to display the art.
Robson creates sincere and genuine works with the intention of helping herself, and helping others by opening a dialogue on a very distressing and confrontational subject.
The artworks are on display for a very, very short period of time (days?) before complaints come in to the Okanagan College administrators.
The artworks are no longer able to be up for the agreed amount time with the administrator citing the “complaints”.
Based on the actions of the administrators of Kalamalka – Okanagan College, my take is the following:
The Okanagan College failed in its role as a centre for expanded learning.
They don’t understand the value of art as a vehicle for education and understanding, compassion and empathy.
They see art as “conditional” rather than a “necessary”.
They should have stood up to the complainers and stood up for the art.
I believe that as long as the art is landscapes and flowers and fairies or objective abstracts then art is welcome on their walls.
Ryan Robson is a local artist.
Local artists are not taken seriously or their genuine work is seen as valid.
If this was an outside exhibit that they had to pay to display then the artworks would have been up for the agreed amount of time.
The College had an opportunity to expand consciousness and understanding of such a highly charged area of human life, and I am certain sexual molestation happens to more children and people than we know. I am sure they could have taken advantage of this artist’s sharing by having her come and speak to the psychology classes, or other subjects they teach. Speaking from the experience of someone who is coming to terms with my own identity and exploring the same in my work, the actions of the College are reprehensible considering that this area purports itself to be so culturally aware.
Instead, they shut her down and gave the message “we don’t want to see that”, or “we don’t care about what you went through, it isn’t valid art”. Regardless of what was said, actions speak louder than words, and that was the message, very clear to all. And again, I think it is because she was a local artist. If this was an artist from Toronto, or Vancouver, or if they had to pay for the exhibit, then this outcome would be very different.
Too bad the College succumbed to squeaky wheels and whiners instead of telling them to stuff it. They could have made themselves the example of strength and leadership by standing up for the principle and needs of art.
I was asked the other day, who is the artist who should read Art & Money?
Well, I answered, that’s a tricky question. There is no one group who “should” read it, whether beginning, mid or late career. I believe that we can all benefit from many streams of information, and that having read something is superior to not having read it.
The book talks about a lot of areas, and would be good for those who are beginning, as it gathers the information that I wish I knew about when I was first starting out.
This book would have a long shelf life because there are a great many things in the book that take years to develop, and by this I mean items on the cv, and renewed perspective on the biography, as time goes by, and you are active in your career and your community.
The book touches on the media, and how I believe they are interested in their community too, in helping it grow, and expand. It touches on the city – or at least my city – on how those in the cultural departments are interested in helping their city grow, and how the artist can be and is a valuable resource. It describes ways that you as an artist, or a believer in culture, can encourage this kind of investment of your city. This book would help the patron understand what goes on behind the easel.
The book also describes how the beginning, mid or late career artist can interact with charities, giving a number of points of view to do with supporting non profits. The charities would benefit from reading this information to see how they could change or adapt their policies to be more artist friendly. The patrons who frequent charities would benefit because they, as patrons, are interested in the success of their charity, and I believe they wish to see everyone successful. This book would help the patron or supporter understand what goes on behind the easel, and how they could help.
Am I an expert? No, I don’t say that I am. I am just an interested party, and believe in the growth for the good of all. I care enough to say something, and I care enough to believe that artists can take control of their career. This book is for those who believe in culture, who believe in their community.