The Penticton Art Gallery is opening four new exhibits Friday, sharing stories from around the globe

Exhibits spark conversation

Casey Richardson

Four new exhibitions launch at the Penticton Art Gallery on Friday, shifting from the easy-going painting styles of Bob Ross to a more serious tone.

“I hope the people that came to Bob Ross will come see these shows too,” said Paul Crawford, curator for the Penticton Art Gallery. 

“As Bob Ross was a nice break from the world that we’re living in, these shows really certainly are about that common shared experience of where we are today." 

You Are Not Alone invited artists from around the world to submit works that resonated with them about humanity during these unprecedented times.The gallery had 182 people submit art, sculptures and installations for the project to talk about their COVID experience. The exhibit will also be touring through cities in Europe in 2021. 

“It's going to be amazing to see the whole gallery filled floor to ceiling of all these peoples' stories,” Crawford said. 

Over 200 works were submitted, including an installation from the Penticton branch of the Okanagan Historical Society, featuring a collage of COVID-19 images: The Mask of COVID-19 in the Penticton Area.

Suzanne Schmiddem, an editor for the Penticton branch, couldn’t believe it when their chapter’s creation was invited to be in the exhibit.

“I couldn't believe my ears! I was overwhelmed! To be in a travelling exhibit with international artists,”  Schmiddem said.  

For anyone wanting a permanent copy of these COVID-19 images from Penticton, the art gallery is selling copies of the 2020 version of Okanagan History at the opening night and for the duration of the exhibit.  

“We are proud to participate in this timely and mutually supportive exhibit - a sign of the times,” Schmiddem said. 

To Talk With Others is an exhibit about a meeting back in 1977 between Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and five Yukon First Nations leaders regarding the then-approved Mackenzie Pipeline. The curator of the exhibit found a document detailing the minutes of that meeting and then invited Indigenous artists to create the collective.

“Our initiator of this process found this document while she was working with the archives up in Dawson,” Scott Price, the exhibit preparator for the show said. “It took ten years before they found the funding.”

Price was in attendance in White Horse when the Indigenous artists spoke of their feelings and process.

“Listening to them talk about the struggle that they had… that resonates a lot with me. Knowing their feelings about it and the work they created about it.” 

A big collection of comics will also be showcased in the main hall. 181 days and Counting features cartoons from Dirk Van Stralen, starting from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and sharing his observation of the current world.  

“A comic a day since the middle of March ... We’ll have a digital carousel so you can see them all,” Crawford said. The gallery will also be posting the new ones that Stralen produces daily.  

Lastly, Edward Mapplethorpe’s new installation piece is a video of two American flags being washed, a single channel video filmed on an iPhone that runs for 35 minutes.

“His sort of view of the chaos in America today. It’s basically two American flags intertwined in a washing machine, running through an entire cycle,” Crawford said.

The exhibitions will be running at the gallery until Nov. 7, inviting viewers to think, connect and have discussions over the pieces. 

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