April 30 to September 11, 2005

In one short century, Kelowna has grown from a small village with a handful of pioneers to an international tourist destination with award-winning wineries and multi-million dollar lakeside properties. Throughout its history, the Okaganan landscape has enticed people to visit, live and retire in the Valley. Artists from across the country have also been lured by this landscape, its beauty and contours, the light and the lake – the seduction of an oasis.

This exhibition, entitled Oasis, is curated in response to the City of Kelowna’s 100th centennial celebration. In part, it explores Kelowna, a burgeoning city in a semi-desert landscape that encompasses a very large lake, as an oasis or place of refuge and retreat for those who live and visit here. How the local landscape, Lake Okanagan, and surrounding orchards and vineyards have inspired and been portrayed by artists over the years is featured. In addition to celebrating the landscape, Oasis includes works by artists who turn a more critical eye to Kelowna’s growing urban presence, to the pressures growth and development impose on the landscape, and to the very idea of “oasis”. After all, even an oasis can have a dark side.

Oasis includes a range of historical and contemporary paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, and various objects of visual culture. Many works are representational, others are conceptual; some are light and whimsical; some nostalgic, and a few, a little daring. While it is not an encyclopedia of every artist who ever worked or visited here, Oasis does span a century of art and artists.

It is hoped that Oasis will be a genesis for further exhibitions and much needed study and documentation of the breadth and depth of the history of artistic practice in Kelowna and area. It is also hoped that visitors to Oasis will allow themselves the time to enjoy our unique visual heritage and to contemplate the many ways this landscape has been portrayed over the past one hundred years.

The Kelowna Art Gallery is grateful to the City of Kelowna for a Centennial Event Development Grant, the many artists and private individuals who loaned works from their collections to this exhibition, and public institutions that loaned collection works, namely the Kamloops Art Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Glenbow Museum, the Medicine Hat Museum and Art Gallery, the Kelowna Museum and City of Kelowna. I would also like to thank Carolyn MacHardy, Claudette and Eain Lamont, Joan Needham, Ursula Surtees, and from the Kelowna Museum, Tracy Satin and Wayne Wilson, for sharing with me over this past year their time and their knowledge of Kelowna’s rich art history.

Linda Sawchyn

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