Ryan Robson’s Lady-like exhibit at the College – my take

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:


and here:


and here on CBC is the interview with Ryan about the show (7 minutes long):


From the infotel.ca link:

“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.

But they didn’t.



Okanagan Erotic Art Show update

Okanagan Erotic Art Show Love Story Julia Trops Oil painting on canvas

Many of you know I do my own webwork, and manage four websites: my own, my new art gallery, Livessence.com and OkanaganEroticArtShow.com.

Earlier this month, my web service provider GoDaddy rearranged a few things for me, and while everything is running much smoother, I have some work to do to get it all up and running as it should.  The transition was kind to Livessence, which is now completed, and thanks to Postie, it gets its updates with the emails that go out to the members.

The Okanagan Erotic Art Show is next on the list.  I expect it to be up and on its way in about a week or two.  In the meantime, I’d like to share what I am contemplating the theme will be for 2014.  Steamy, a play on the idea of the beautiful Wellness Spa Resort at Sparkling Hill, and a steampunk influence, is what I am leaning toward.  You all know I have some sort of byline so that the artist does not feel restricted in their creative process.  Once that is finalized, I will post it all on the Erotic Show website.

I am looking for jurors for the show, so if you have any ideas, do send them along!  The process for the jurying will be the same as last year:  blind (no names), image + title + artist statement.  Yes = 1 point, No = 0 points, and Maybe = .5 point.  Artworks with 2 points are automatically in.

I am also looking for sponsors for any amount.  If you would like to be involved in any way, let me know!

If you have any questions, I’ll see what I can do to answer them.  I expect the Call to Artists to come out Nov/Dec timeframe.  Some small changes have been incorporated, and as you know every year I try to make the show better.  We had a fabulous year this year, so the challenge has been set before me.

Check out the facebook page for updates as well:


Painting Plein Air at Silver Star Ski Resort Aug 9/10

This weekend, I will be at Silver Star Ski Resort, painting plein air for Gallery Odin and the Wine Festival there.  On Saturday, there will be a live auction of a work from each of the artists to benefit Jubilee Hospital in Vernon.  Thank you to Kal and Maria Molnar for making the live auction artist friendly.

If you see me paint there, this is what I am using.   I’ve ordered two so far, and know I will be ordering many more.  I can attest to the simplicity of set up, and how tight the canvas is.  I’m excited.  If you order any canvases from this link I’ve given you, I get a 5% commission – it’s a nice that the creator of the canvas system is appreciating his artist customers … no wonder as his sister Patty Baker is a well known artist in the States.  So thank you Mike Schwed!  By the way, the system is copyrighted in Canada and the US.  We artists are protective of those who help us out – I know I am, and I will report you. Nothing like loyalty! On a happier note, I am super excited for the weekend!

Gallery Odin Artists Village
Gallery Odin Artists Village Silver Star Ski Resort 9-10 August 2013

Vernon Art Gallery Exposes its membership


VPAG exposes its membership

The Sunbather, Mixed Media, 8x8, Julia Trops
Kelowna artist Julia Trops has submitted The Sunbather, 2007, mixed media, to the Vernon Public Art Gallery’s members show, Exposed!

By Staff Writer – Vernon Morning Star
Published: November 04, 2012 1:00 AM

The Vernon Public Art Gallery opens its annual members’ exhibition Thursday with a total of 76 works of art produced by 46 talented and creative artists.

This is an increase in submissions from 2011, perhaps due to the new title and theme, Exposed!

“We are happy with the response from our call to artists. The new theme gave the artists the chance to indulge in something new for 2012 and we have a number of figurative drawings and paintings included in the exhibition,” said VPAG executive director Dauna Kennedy Grant. “The quality of work is strong and we expect this exhibition to be popular and look forward to an increase in sales for our local artists.”

The annual exhibition not only provides members of the community the opportunity to exhibit their works in a public art gallery at no cost, it also provides a small source of revenue to the VPAG. Part proceeds of all art sales from Exposed! will support ongoing exhibitions and programming.

“We encourage the public to consider purchasing art as a gift this holiday season,” said Kennedy Grant. “All the artwork is original, and there is a variety of mediums and subject matters to choose from; everything from sculpture to printmaking, in all different sizes and price ranges.”

To celebrate the accomplishments of the artists in Exposed!, the VPAG is hosting an opening reception on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is open to members and guests are welcome by invitation.
Participation in the annual members’ exhibition is one of many benefits to becoming a gallery member, said Kennedy Grant.
Members receive discounts on gift shop merchandise, events, and workshops such as the new Live Model Drawing Series, which takes place at the gallery on Nov. 9, 23, and Dec. 7, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The members’ fee to take the course is only $10, half the cost of what non-members pay.

Also, with the holiday season approaching, the gallery is hosting its second annual members’ appreciation event, Get into the Spirit, Nov. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Sponsored by Okanagan Spirits, members and guests are invited to celebrate another memorable year at the VPAG. The event provides guests with signature drinks from Okanagan Spirits, live vocal and guitar music by Kelowna’s Harley David, and 20 per cent off purchases in the gift shop, and the chance to win fabulous door prizes.

Tickets for Get into the Spirit are needed (members are free and guests are $10 each.) They are  available at the VPAG or by calling 250-545-3173.

Gallery Vertigo’s Almost Famous Auction

Gallery Vertigo in Vernon is an artist run centre that does an auction every year for their gallery.

The goal is to raise funds, support their programs and to get their artists involved in their community, and at the same time provide some education to Joe Public and other artists about various works in Art History. While Vernon is a bit of a distance as I live in West Kelowna, I enjoy contributing to this fundraiser because it gets me back in to the history books, to re-look at art, it gives a new way in, it involves my brain, my ability and skills and my awareness, which only enhances my work further. I look at how I can re-interpret a work that maybe I did not necessarily appreciate before, or how I can show how a work was impactful either on me or on the artworld itself. It is a win-win for all of us!

You know, I wish this was an assignment that would be incorporated in to the Art History programs at the university and the college. There is nothing that can help with the understanding of an artist quite like getting involved in their methodology, and their work.

Some of the things I consider when choosing a work to ‘re-create” for Almost Famous:

Try to do an artist, and or subject, I know nothing about. ie Wolf Kahn from 2008- I never paint with orange and yellow, and thought this would be a good opportunity to do so. I also never painted trees, but two years later, in my own work, the tree influence made itself felt:

Wolf Kahn 30×22 oil on canvas for Almost Famous Artist Run Centre Gallery 2008






Try to do a work that is not in the same medium ie I did a Tiffany Stained Glass in acrylic and oil from 2011:

Tiffany Stained Glass re-created to Acrylic Oil Pen and Ink 8×8 2011








Try to do the same dimensions and medium as done originally,  for example the Emily Carr from 2007:

Emily Carr Oil Painting Skidegate Pole Gallery Vertigo Almost Famous 2007









Or I will try to do the same dimensions but smaller, such as the Renoir from 2010:

Woman Reading Renoir Oil Painting Almost Famous Gallery Vertigo 2010









I also try to add my own twist, so that the work is not an exact copy but has my own personality, ie if done originally in pencil, I will do in ink, or I will change the surface as I did in the Renoir above. The Matisse below was originally done in willow Charcoal:


Matisse Conte, Pencil and watercolour pencil Drawing Gallery Vertigo Almost Famous 2011









One word of caution though – changing the colours is a tricky, because if the original work depends on colours for its substance, and is based in colour theory, it may be more difficult, but not impossible.  Changes like these are where I, as an artist, become challenged and really enjoy. Here is an Ingres from 2009:

Ingres Oil Painting The Bather Gallery Vertigo 2009











I have noticed some trends in bidding – the average price is between 50 and 70 dollars, with very few works going over $100 . and even fewer works going over $150.

If you are looking at maximizing the amount for your artwork consider the following:

  • works of some periods tend to go for more ie art deco, art nouveau, impressionism, expressionism, der Blaue Reiter
  • abstract work of certain periods tends to go for less ie abstract expressionism, deStijl
  • if you are going to do realistic work in a realistic expression, then be meticulous in the reproduction
  • some specific artists do very well ie (not limited to) Matisse, Klimt, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, Monet, Carr and Group of Seven
  • some specific artists don’t do very well ie Bacon, Mondrian
  • colour always does well
  • size matters ie
  •     small works always do well
  •     large works (over 30×20) have challenges because of space
  • include a short writeup for the work – why did you choose it, how does your rendition change it from the original (if applicable)
  • include a picture and include a short bio (about 250 words max).
  • FINISH the work! it does not mean it has to be framed, but include a varnish of some sort, to make the colours pop – spray, or gloss medium to unify the surface, that sort of thing.

Just because I include the above as cautions, does not mean that the artists, periods and expressions listed will never do very well, it just means that the public (perhaps) is not all that educated in the value of those expressions. If YOU are drawn to those artists, there is a reason, and perhaps you can use this opportunity to show others what you see as important and impactful. Use this opportunity to educate. With understanding comes appreciation and that is what this exhibition is all about.

Look upon the Gallery Vertigo Almost Famous exhibition as a way to help your fellow artists and the general public understand about various times in Art History. If you could visually express something about a specific work, what would it be? How can you incorporate what you learned about these works in to your own work, or your outlook…? For me, it is interesting to see how these works, whether I painted them, or viewed them, affect my own work later on down the road, whether in subject, or colour or expression or all of the above. Any education is never wasted.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Gallery Vertigo Almost Famous Auction, mark your calendar for June, as the call usually comes out then, with a deadline of delivery of mid to end July. The actual auction happens about the second/third week in August. Why not do an artwork or two or three during the year, and then you will have something ready for when the call comes out.

Any questions on the blog post, please do let me know – and on Gallery Vertigo’s Almost Famous, please contact Gallery Vertigo info@galleryvertigo.com.

All the best! Julia

Almost Famous Art Auction – Gallery Vertigo

I participate in Gallery Vertigo’s Almost Famous every year.

It is a great deal of fun, and I appreciate challenging myself by trying to find a new way in to works that have been previously seen and enjoyed. This exhibition also allows me to go in to Art History to periods I really enjoyed, and to refresh my memory on the exploits and accomplishments of my favourite artists, as well as discover “new” ones that quickly become favourites. I try to do different artists every year. This year I think is year 4 or 5.

I also like to help out the non profit galleries when I can. If I believe they are trying to make a difference and are not exclusionary, I am happy to donate. For Gallery Vertigo, I also try to give them framed works, because they go for more, and are taken a little bit more seriously than unframed works.

Here are my three submissions for this year, and my Almost Famous artworks:

The original Tiffany Peacock, Stained Glass
The original Tiffany Peacock, Stained Glass
From the Art Nouveau period, one of my favourite artistic times, this work is a detail of a stained glass peacock originally done by Tiffany & co. Peacocks and opulence, feathers and roses, are back in mainstream fashion, but confidence and luxury never goes out of style.
From the Art Nouveau period, one of my favourite artistic times, this work is a detail of a stained glass peacock originally done by Tiffany & co. Peacocks and opulence, feathers and roses, are back in mainstream fashion, but confidence and luxury never goes out of style.
The Matisse Charcoal original drawing
The Matisse Charcoal original drawing
The original work done by Henri Matisse in 1938 and the Art Deco period, was with willow charcoal. My philosophy to not use erasers comes from his example, with the belief that there are no mistakes in drawing. The work is re-expressed in ink, conte and pencil crayon.
The original work done by Henri Matisse in 1938 and the Art Deco period, was with willow charcoal. My philosophy to not use erasers comes from his example, with the belief that there are no mistakes in drawing. The work is re-expressed in ink, conte and pencil crayon.
This work of Gustav Klimt, originally done in 1910 in pencil and blue crayon, during the Art Nouveau period, has been recreated in freehand ink. I love his economy of line, and chose to redo the work in ink to increase the drama effect as well as to challenge my own ability to drawn with the brush.
The original Klimt drawing
This work of Gustav Klimt, originally done in 1910 in pencil and blue crayon, during the Art Nouveau period, has been recreated in freehand ink. I love his economy of line, and chose to redo the work in ink to increase the drama effect as well as to challenge my own ability to drawn with the brush.
This work of Gustav Klimt, originally done in 1910 in pencil and blue crayon, during the Art Nouveau period, has been recreated in freehand ink. I love his economy of line, and chose to redo the work in ink to increase the drama effect as well as to challenge my own ability to drawn with the brush.

Okanagan Arts Awards Visual Artist Showcase

I am on the Okanagan Arts Awards committee, working on getting the awards underway with fellow volunteer board members Sharon McCoubrey, Sharon Lancaster, Daneen Agecoutay, Angela Bonten, James Avery, Sarah Parsons and Janet Anderson.

One of my chief duties was to put together the Art Awards Sculpture competition, and now that the sculpture has been chosen, I help out with other activities. The next main activity I am involved in is the representation of the Visual Arts in Okanagan. This is called the Visual Artist Showcase, and is a slideshow presentation representing all the visual artists in the North South and Central Okanagan. Daneen Agecoutay is masterminding the slideshow based on the entries by the submitting Okanagan visual artists.

The first call I put out for the Okanagan Visual Arts Showcase resulted in nine visual artists responding. Nine? Yes, nine, from the entire Okanagan, North, South and Central. I am not sure why it is like pulling teeth to get these visual artists to respond, but it is. Maybe because there is no cost for entering their images? Maybe if we put a $10 charge on each image submitted, there would be more people submitting? I am not sure.

The goal is to have minimum 50 artists, and currently I think we are halfway there.

Some notes regarding the Okanagan Arts Awards Artist Showcase.

1. There is nothing online about the Visual Arts Showcase because we (the Arts Awards Committee) have no direct access to the website – this is why you see me posting this on my own blog and on my facebook page and the other various facebook pages such as The Okanagan Artists Group, and the Arts Council for the Central Okanagan.  The Okanagan Arts Awards is http://www.okanaganartsawards.com and you can go there to see info on the event itself, including nominations and sponsorships. The event itself will take place  Feb 23 2011 at KCT. Tickets are on sale NOW, available from SelectYourTickets at the RCA.

2. The Artists Showcase will be a slideshow presentation (hard to have art dancing on stage or singing) to represent the Visual Arts in the Okanagan. You do not need to be Arts Council members to be included. If you are interested in having your work included, please send two images to info@artsco.ca.

3. Please do not send me images or ask me to choose for you.

4. Please do not confuse this with the actual nomination process for an award – that you would ask friends to do for you, or they would think of it themselves. Nomination Plug: If you know someone who should receive an award (in whatever category!) Why not nominate them as their Christmas gift? Deadline Jan 15.

5. 2D and 3D are acceptable! just two images, so if 3D be creative and maybe include many sides in one image.

6. If you don’t know how to do the images, get someone to help you. Just make sure they are 2000 px wide. Web images will not do. Make sure they are clear! Blurry images will not be shown.

7. This would be a great Christmas gift for your loved one who is an artist – put a note in their stocking that you have done this for them! The gift of love and respect always brings joy and tears, right?

That’s pretty much all I can tell you about the Visual Arts Showcase – two images, good quality, art only, to Elke at info@artsco.ca. Questions? Post here, likely if you have them, others do too.
All the best!

ps – all sculptors, think about submitting a design for next year’s Call to Artists, it ALWAYS COMES OUT IN JUNE, WITH A DEADLINE OF AUGUST> lol.

In my perfect world –

There is always one Watercolour Painting on board 3"x5"
There is always one Watercolour Painting on board 3"x5"

Everyone does not need to get along.

I would rather that they didn’t, actually, because some of this friction is the fodder of growth and enlightenment.

But what I would like to see is that people support each other –

for example, as a person out in the community, whether an artist or a traditional business person, I would like to see people advertise each other’s events and businesses. I don’t see that happening right now.

I would like to see people on Facebook and Twitter share each other’s events and sales, or each artist share another’s exhibition. I don’t see that happening right now.

I used to do that, but I do not any longer….why is that you ask? I stopped because out of many of my friends, it seemed I was the only one doing it. I stopped because I could count on one hand the other artists doing it – and I can count on two fingers the number of traditional businesses who do it for others, especially their competition. I stopped because people came to expect it. I stopped because I was focusing on everyone else’s shows rather than my own work. So I stopped. No one else was doing it…. and I came to wonder …. why?

On one level, why can’t this be a mutual admiration society?

Are people so afraid to point “their” public in another’s direction? Are people so worried that their own income will be sacrificed if someone else is promoted? It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and dogs run in packs. Eventually there will only be a lone dog… and the lone dog will die….

I would like to see the local community support the local community. If you are on Facebook, what would it cost you to hit the SHARE button on local Okanagan events and happenings and press enter? Would it REALLY hurt you to hit the RT button on Twitter?

This is the season of giving, no matter what your faith. Give the gift of recognition – of the “I see you” to another person, or another person’s business. Remember The Miracle on 34th Street, the department store that helped people find gifts by promoting the competition?

Ignoring instructions to steer parents to goods that Macy’s wants to sell, Kris tells one shopper (Thelma Ritter) to go to another store for a fire engine for her son that Macy’s doesn’t have. She is so impressed, she tells Julian Shellhammer (Philip Tonge), head of the toy department, that she will become a loyal customer. Kris later informs another mother that archrival Gimbels has better skates for her daughter.” Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_on_34th_Street

Why not?

In the case of artists – I would like to see locals buy from locals. Why on earth would you go to HomeSense when you can buy original art for much less, and the quality is much higher?

Case in point, Studio 113, of which I am a member, has original artworks in the form of Christmas cards which can then be custom FRAMED! The cost for these? Under $15 and many are under $10 and $5. Get your framing done for about $30-$50 and there you go!! ORIGINAL art that will likely only APPRECIATE as we artists get older and the bonus?

Watch it skyrocket when we die.

Just kidding… kinda….

There are a ton of local stores, born and bred in the Okanagan, who need your business – who probably have terrific sales on – WHY NOT share them out on Facebook, or on Twitter?

Share share SHARE. Pass the info on, everyone is always looking to do better for himself as a buyer, so help out your fellow man, who may be a buyer AND a seller. Imagine if we did this the whole year long…. why not?