Art at the Owl: A Review

by Marion Trimble

“Large talent for a small ‘burb like Oliver,” was a comment made by one of the attendees at the crowded opening reception of Art at the Owl on Saturday April 17 at the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery.   The show, diverse in media and subject matter, was a delightful mixed bag for all art lovers. Abstract oils to imaginative three-dimensional pieces, modernism and folk art, this no-jury, no-theme show pleased everyone’s taste. Whether the fantastic photo realism highlighted in John Salsnek’s large canvas Unannounced, the gaze of the observing Timber Wolf by Cameron Ogilvie, the contemporary abstraction superbly executed in Corinne Desampaio’s stunning work Gift in Contrast, or the charming whimsy produced by Caroline Alaric’s Tropical, the surprises and delights were everywhere in this amazing array of local talent.

Photo: Artists Linda Blaschuk and Corinne Desampaio admire the works on display during “Art at the Owl”, as well as the wine from Burrowing Owl Estate Winery.  Photo by Val Friesen

At the entrance, a three dimensional piece by Kurt Hutterli, The Magic Wine Tap, set the stage with its amusing faucet dripping wine coloured beads into a glass vessel. In the foyer, two “plein air” paintings of old and collapsing local structures were beautifully rendered by popular pioneer, Agnes Sutherland. Marilyn Marsel’s mixed media triptych indicated the depth of brilliant creativity. Both colour and black and white photography inspired an urge in the viewer to explore both the local and international settings of their subjects. The Burrowing Owl Estate Winery’s own tapestries, permanently hung in the gallery, perfectly complemented Val Friesen’s large captivating photograph, Berber Hospitality and Kurt Hutterli’s abstract painting, A Butterfly Kaleidoscope. Eye-catching and delicate, Roy McLean’s “butterflies” and jewellery by Deanna McCaghren were new additions to the local art scene. To complete this cornucopia of diversity, there were the traditional landscapes and floral tributes, such as Joan Burgess’ gorgeous azalea.

The Burrowing Owl Estate Winery venue provided as much surprise and enjoyment as the artwork. Set out as a flow of small, comfortable viewing areas, the journey provided a contemplative atmosphere to explore the art more intimately. Two floors of gallery space were utilized, with natural light from a large window illuminating the landscapes within while giving a panoramic view of the magnificent landscape outside the winery’s hospitality building. Inside, attendees were treated both to delectable refreshments provided jointly by the Winery and Oliver Community Arts Council, including, of course, samples of Burrowing Owl wines. During the reception, harpist Ingrid Schellenberg rendered a wide selection of beautiful music.

The week-long show—jointly sponsored by the Oliver Community Arts Council and the Oliver Sagebrushers art club—was presented as part of the provincial celebration of Arts & Culture Week. The show of more than 70 pieces of artwork were all for sale, displayed in the restaurant as well as the guest house. Judging by brisk early sales, the event looks promising for artists. As an example, two of Sally Franks’ watercolours sold early on opening day,as did three-dimensional lapidary pieces by Roy McLean. The show continued daily through Saturday, April 24. 

Missed out on this wonderful display of local talent? Plan to attend the Fall Art Show and Sale at the Oliver Community Centre on the first weekend of October!