Gallery 97 is run this year by six partners, Jaine and George Buse, Pat Huber, Wayne Power, Sharon Fitch and myself. Our goal is to support and promote Okanagan artists.
This year, we have works from 40 artists Vernon to Penticton, and we hope to have works even broader yet, if we are able to run the gallery once again next year. So keep April 2016 on your calendar for the Call to Artists, or send an email to email@example.com if you wish to be notified of the call, or come down and talk with one of us in person until October 12.
This is an anonymous public participation project.
I am calling this project Living in the Dash. This project for an exhibition, is ultimately about sharing, growth, compassion and understanding. This is a project that surrounds people and their lives, people sharing their story.
They can talk about it, they can write it. They can tell their story as they lived it, or as they wish to have lived it. It can be as long or short as they wish. It can be a person’s entire life, or it can be what happened yesterday. Any names will be changed to protect privacy.
This is about trust and integrity and I can promise to protect yours with mine.
To participate you can:
Send me a letter with your story. No return address as I will not be responding to Venus is Rising Box 32093 2151 Louie Drive Westbank BC V4T 3G2
Come to my gallery during Westside Culture Days and record your audio there in a private space.
Record an audio at home and during Westside Culture Days, drop that audio disk in my drop box at Julia Trops Gallery Westbank Shopping Centre. Outside of Westside Culture Days you can drop it at Westbank Blenz or send to the post box address above.
Send me one of your diaries, letters you’ve never sent, or anything you want.
You can include photographs or other visuals if you wish.
There is no sensorship. If you sent it, it means it is important to you and will be honoured.
It is entirely up to you.
The result of this process I hope will be a healing one, for you, for me and ultimately for our community and our lives. I hope you participate.
It is the journey between birth and death. It is the “and”. It is everything we experience for good or ill. It is what determines our beliefs and interactions. It is the pause between the start and the stop. It is what happens between each breath.
This is a project for an exhibition, ultimately about sharing, growth, compassion and understanding.
As a part time job, I transcribe statements for a public service agency. People telling their stories and besides the person in that agency, I am the first witness to their experience. As I listen to these people, describing their trust, their betrayals, their cynicism, their strength, their hopelessness, I think because I listen with compassion and empathy, some healing has occurred in my own life.
The one thing I can tell you for sure is never listen to anyone who says “oh get over it” or “stop living in the past”. Those kinds of statements are insensitive and ignorant. They indicate a lack of understanding of you and your experiences. Don’t listen to them.
This is a project that surrounds people and their lives. People sharing their story. You can tell whatever story you want. All anonymous. You can talk about it, you can write it. You can tell your story as you lived it, or as you wish to have lived it. It’s not all about the bad stuff you did, or such, it is whatever you want to talk about. Your biography, your hurts, your joys, whatever. It is open to your interpretation. It can be as long as you wish or as short as you wish. It can be your entire life, or it can be what happened yesterday. Whatever is important to you.
I will transcribe your story and become your second witness. The recording, whether audio or written, is the first and the act of recording validates whatever it is you say. When you record or write, consciously think about this as you go through the process.
If you choose to do an audio recording, I will be transcribing – writing the story for you. Your name is not important unless you choose it to be, but your story is. I feel that there is healing in this process and there will be a healing and compassion in the process of my transcribing. There is healing in telling the story and healing in writing the story. When I do any transcribing, I always say a little prayer for each person regardless of what was done or received.
The show itself would look like this. Part one would be the visual: Everyone’s story, printed out, papers, 8 1/2 x 11 would cover the walls of the art gallery, all through the art gallery, everywhere. You wouldn’t be able to get away from it. All of your stories. All double spaced stories. Part two would be the recorded audio: Stories would be told on continuous loop, all stories one after the other, different people talking, in various places throughout the gallery. Part three would be recordable audio: There would be places for people to record their own stories if they have not already or to add if they already have. Part four would be tactile: there would be a place for them to write their own stories. Part five, and the most important: the people who come in to the gallery become the witnesses, the validations of all these stories. That validation creates connection, understanding, empathy and compassion. There might be a part six, which would be people in the gallery telling their stories in person.
I believe that there are many in the community who share the same experiences. Maybe in others seeing and hearing what is said, there will be healing in them too.
This is all anonymous. No identification. You would need to give permission to have your stories used in a public setting, but this would be implied by the very fact of submitting it. I am thinking that a book could also come out of this, because there is something empowering by seeing your words in print. This I can tell you for sure.
It’s about healing, partnerships and compassion. We can do this together. I believe it is the only way.
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.
Like many others, I have been the recipient of physical, mental and emotional bullying all my life. So many times I wished those watching would stand up for me and say “hey, wait a minute…”, but no one ever did. Even now, in the Okanagan, I have first hand experience of how loyalty to one’s friends supersedes what is morally right, or kindness to another. Over the years, through processing my own experiences and exploring my identity, I became aware of patterns of behavior, not only in myself as victim, but others, both the aggressors and the bystanders. In becoming aware of my own personal triggers of perceiving myself as a victim, I have developed thought processes to re-route my
previously traditional response. I re-vision scenarios where I am no longer the just recipient, but instead, I am a witness trying to understand the source of anger or sadness or lack of education that provoked that aggressor’s hate. Hate is an expression of pain or anger or being threatened, and I understand now that hate directed outwards is not personal, but symbolic. This understanding has made me aware of what a gift it is to both myself and to that aggressor, in witnessing and acknowledging their pain along with my own, and this act of witnessing is transformative and powerful.
In any action, positive or negative, there are two types of people: the bystander, who witnesses, and the participants. Witnessing can occur before, during or after a situation. Even those bystanders who choose not to participate cannot avoid becoming part of the scenario. By making that choice, bystanders become the witness, and they stand by and share in what they see and hear. I believe that bystanders can choose to be the people who say “no more”, and these are the people who become heroes, who stand up and effect change for both the aggressor and the victim. I don’t think anyone is determined to be a hero. I believe heroes are reluctantly so.
What if Charron, the ferryman across the River Styx, said “No more”? What if he, the bystander, decided he was not going to participate in his traditional role of taking those condemned over to Hades over the river of hate?
I have always had sympathy for Charron. I’ve always imagined Charron takes up the mantle of pain for each person who uses his ferry, and that he can see through to their pain, the pain and anger that caused these people to be evil, but can do nothing about it.
He is a witness to both their crime and their past. Instead of traveling the river of hate, what if he were to examine it? What if he employed empathy and he, as a witness, was the cause of their transformation? The ferryman Charron, a bystander, a witness, previously thought to be powerless, a victim in and of his role, becomes the most powerful of all.
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 will be at Margot Artist in Residence Studio on Saturday October 12th, from 1-3 pm for an Art & Money book signing. If you would like to reserve your book, to ensure there is a copy for you, please send me a note. My email is juliatrops at gmail dot com.
The address is:
9533 Main Street
Parking for Margot’s studio is easy and it’s free. The Summerland Art Gallery is located right across from the high school, and you can park directly in front of the gallery. Or you can come around back of the gallery and park in the big parking lot right across the street.
I teamed up with Margot to create a partnership that is mutually beneficial, and promotes the premise of cooperation between artists. Margot has just launched her new Artist in Residence studio at the Summerland Art Gallery, and I have launched the book.
Margot has this to say:
“I believe we each have a unique gift to contribute to society, mine happens to be the way I see the world and how interpret it through my ART. Most artists work in isolation in their studios and rarely come out to share their vision with the exception of exhibitions and even then the interaction of the artist with fellow artists and the community are somewhat brief and limited. Thus I welcome any opportunity to share my vision with other artists and the greater community. Such opportunities however, don’t just appear magically…someone (I, you, we) have to create them and make them happen. That’s why I applaud Julia Trops efforts in writing this book and giving artists an insight on how to make this happen. Thanks Julia and cheers for creating the Okanagan Erotic Art Show event and all the opportunities of networking it provides“.
Thanks Margot, I appreciate that! It is true, we can think and dream all we wish, but it comes right down to doing, and making the magic happen ourselves. The possibilities are endless, and my belief is if we can dream it, we can do it.
I will be at Gallery Vertigo on Saturday October 19th, from 1-3 pm for an Art & Money book signing. If you would like to reserve your book, to ensure there is a copy for you, please send me a note. My email is juliatrops at gmail dot com.
The address is:
3001 31 St. #1 upstairs
Vernon BC V1T 5H8 Canada
(250) 503 – 2297
I am a long time supporter of Gallery Vertigo, and believe in their mission, which is artists helping artists at a very grassroots level. They have an event coming up called Almost Famous which is one of my favourite events in the Okanagan valley. The Call to Artists has just been announced, and interested artists can get the submission form here: online form.
Almost Famous has original artworks created by local artists up in a silent auction, but these artworks have a unique twist in that the artist “copies” or “reinvents” a masterpiece from the past. Considering that Picasso created 58 works based on Las Meninas from Diego Velázquez and these 58 works are all on display at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona (which I saw this spring), these Almost Famous works should not be under appreciated. You really don’t know where our local artists are going to be in fifty years, and if you are lucky enough to be the successful bidder, you might just happen to have a winner in your hands. I contribute two or three each year. These are fun for me, and I always learn something new about the artist on whom I am focusing. It’s a win/win.
I hope to see you there! All the book signings are set up to show the benefits of cooperation and partnering with your fellow artist, or your favourite business.