Preserves is a community exhibition project exploring the development of Kelowna and the history and memories of the people who have shaped it. As Kelowna becomes a high-tech hub, and as the wine industry flourishes, the region’s multicultural history is at risk of becoming eradicated. Our aim in this exhibition is to use art to create a bridge among generations and ethnicities to explore community members’ memories.
I am pleased to be working with the Kelowna Art Gallery , particularly Renee Burgess who was instrumental in initiating the project. Preserves will consist of various personal artifacts belonging to numerous individuals, which have been preserved in coloured gelatin inside regular preserving jars. These jars are on display on shelves in the gallery’s windows for the duration of the exhibition. Each jar is personal and tells a local story that strengthens its makers as they have declared publicly what is important to them.
The exhibition include the mason jars from the workshops, video interviews with some of the participants, as well as works of art in various media based on ten local artists’ interpretations of the theme of preserves. Their submissions are impressive. Kelowna-based photographer Fern Hefland took a series of portraits of workers at the former BC Fruit Packing House on Cawston Avenue before it closed. The Cool Arts Society created a collaborative painting of Kelowna from Knox Mountain. From his experience working on the 2008-9 construction of the W.R. Bennett bridge, Dylan Ranney created an artistic response consisting of a series of notes and sketches. Zev Tiefenbach has captured a slice of Kelowna’s story in the form of light boxes illustrating the evolution of the Upper Mission from burned remnants of the 2003 fire to new housing developments. Susan Burnham Neilson’s painting is a response to staying in Kelowna’s Woodhaven Regional District Park. Don Makela’s interpretation of historical places in Kelowna recalls the artistic style of the Italian Futurists of the early twentieth century. Judith Mueller has collected shed animal hair from the local area to create a unique felt sculpture. Similarly, photographer Megan Bowers has created portraits of native flora. Lucas Glenn Co contrasts earlier nomadic perspectives of place with a period from the 1960s to the 80s when the Okanagan, and especially Kelowna, began marketing and branding itself internationally. Syilx artist Janine Lott reclaims traditional indigenous practices with gourds as her canvases.