Have a favourite art form? See it next week!

week-13BC Arts and Culture Week is a province wide, annual celebration of art during the third week of April. Needing little excuse for a party, Oliver artists in all media delight in showcasing their skills. This spring, several arts groups are in the spotlight.

The week opens with the Oliver Sagebrushers art club presenting Art at the Owl  at the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Guest House. The Sagebrushers are joined by artists from Osoyoos. The opening reception is from 1 -3 pm on Saturday April 20, with a continuing exhibit and sale during the following week. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Drop by the guest house in the afternoons from 12 – 4 pm daily.

The Sage Valley Voices Community Choir is “puttin’ on the Ritz” with a choral concert of Vaudeville, Broadway and Hollywood hits. Not content to be “just” a choir, the ensemble adds colourful costumes and comedic repartee to enliven the performance.  Audiences have a choice of Saturday  April 20 at 7 pm or a matinee on Sunday April 21 at 2:30 at Oliver United Church. Tickets are $10 at the door, and include refreshments after the concert. Food Bank donations are always welcome.

The arts council takes their monthly “Arts Jam” on tour to the Oliver Regional Library on Tuesday April 22 at 9:30 am. The Friends of the Oliver Library will host the event. Arts Jam is a social gathering of many of the council’s 17 groups and 15 businesses. The primary purpose is to exchange current events news from  the local art scene. The public is always invited to catch up on all things arty in Oliver. The council also takes the opportunity to inform the public of its programmes and projects and address the needs of council members.

Oliver’s fabulous fibre artists invite the public to two open houses during BC Arts and Culture Week. The Double O Quilters Guild host theirs on Wednesday April 24 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Oliver Community Centre Hall. Tour displays and demonstrations throughout the hall.

The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers Guild fling open their doors the following day at the same venue: Thursday April 25 from 10 am to 1 pm. Watch their flurry of activity at a felting bee. They are currently working on a felting project entitled “Crossing Borders”  for the Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds (ANWG). The local guild is felting two large three-dimensional cottages, one Canadian, one American. The cottages will be linked by a “cross-border” clothesline representing the goodwill between the guilds on both sides of the 49th parallel. The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers plan to enter the  finished product at the ANWG conference in late June.

Visit Paw Prints Studio and Gallery at 212 Carr Crescent in Willowbrook Valley and the Oliver Art Gallery on Main Street, both of whom are also celebrating BC Arts and Culture Week.

The Oliver Community Arts Council is grateful to Arts BC, who funds BC Arts and Culture Week every year with a small grant  to cover joint publicity. We are also grateful to the Province of BC and the BC Arts Council who support the work of Arts BC.

Seats or Smiles?

an editorial by Penelope Johnson

As a representative from the arts council, I was recently invited to attend a joint meeting of School Board #53, the Town of Oliver, Oliver Parks and Recreation, RDOS, and community groups who all had a vested interest in the rebuilding of the auditorium at Southern Okanagan Secondary School. The architect and structural engineer were also in attendance to present some early designs, based on the existing footprint of the previous auditorium. While many of the financial details are still in negotiation and not yet released, there were some illuminating threads in the discussion. Here are some of my personal reflections.

A Multi-Use Facility: There was a strong desire for a space that could serve many purposes and thus attract not only theatre, dance, and concerts but also weddings, funerals, and corporate events. A large airy lobby is proposed, including display areas, concession, kitchen, washrooms,  and a box office. Behind the stage are dressing rooms and a “black box” style performance space intended as a drama classroom, rehearsal area, or even a “green room” area for shows with large casts.  Many of these proposed areas can fulfill more than one function.

An Accessible Facility?: The present theatre design incorporates stairs rather than ramps, as had been present in the old Venables Auditorium. The rationale is that the theatre can be fitted with more seats if the rake (angle of  the floor) is steeper. As the angle increases, ramps become unsafe. Long,  shallow steps descending to the stage are the alternative. The stairs prompted much discussion about universal design and access. An elevator could take patrons to disability seating at the top level (back) of the theatre, but such seating will be limited and could separate families and groups. After community user groups expressing the need to accommodate the large percentage of senior patrons, the architectural firm agreed to consider some minor design changes.

Seats, Seats and More Seats! … or Not?: The current theatre design has about 12 rows of 30 seats, or 364 in total. While most users agreed that figure was plenty for current needs, some discussion focussed on how to increase the number of seats to 400 without compromising the proposed generous legroom between the rows. The consensus was that, to do so, “something’s gotta give”. If  even one more row were to be added, the theatre would lose space somewhere: at the front (the orchestra pit, the false proscenium, the depth of the stage, or the backstage and dressing rooms) OR at the back (the lobby area).

The concern was that Oliver needed the option to have “more bums in seats”, especially for big events attracting big bucks such as business conferences, weddings, or touring professional performers.  The crux of the discussion came down to … What is more important?  What is the chance that the difference between 364 seats and 394 seats would determine whether an event was booked at all? What attracts client bookings and patrons anyway — the number of seats? or having an overall space that balances seating with technical equipment and proper lobby, stage, and backstage dimensions?

A point I raised at the meeting was that, having talked to theatre managers and touring professionals, I have found that performers  overwhelmingly choose a venue based on three things:

1. Technical Specifications : The venue needs to have good lighting and  sound equipment, stage, backstage area, and acoustics.

2. Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff: The rental agent, theatre manager and stage technician need to be welcoming, accommodating, and well-trained. If there are time-consuming hassles, performers go elsewhere.

3. Warm Receptive Audiences: Size doesn’t matter. I’ve talked to performers who will play happily to an audience of 40 or 50, and return over and over again. Why? Because they love the people. Not the seats. The people IN them.  Many pros prefer the intimacy of a smaller venue because the “feel” is totally different.

Now, not even a week after this meeting, a comment arrives at Oliver Daily News, the popular blog “where Oliver gathers to chat”, as its banner headline reads. The comment is from Catherine Laub, a member of the Kallisto Trio who performed here on November 25 as part of the South Okanagan Concert Society series.  The temporary venue was the Oliver Alliance Church. Good sound system, elevated stage, and adequate lighting for a musical concert. “Intimate” seating, seating maybe 300 in a pinch. Here’s what Catherine writes, in response to reading a review of their performance on Oliver Daily News:

“Fabi, Karen and I are in Calgary this week, continuing to perform the music we sang first in Oliver. We just discovered this wonderful and very touching review and would like to thank the whole community for your attendance and support. This was one of the best concerts we have ever sung, and we’ve been talking ever since about how much we enjoyed our trip. Everyone was so kind, genuine and enthusiastic. Furthermore, you really understood what we were doing, and that makes an incredible difference. We loved our time with you so much that we were discussing moving to the Okanagan, and we’re certainly looking forward to coming back to sing again as soon as you’ll have us.”

Now THAT is what draws performers, not once but repeatedly.   Can we provide good technical equipment for most needs? With support from the Ministry of Education, Town and RDOS, and good fundraising by Adopt-a-Seat, yes we can. Will we have a good theatre manager and stage technician in place? I, for one, hope so. Will we have warm receptive audiences that ensure bums in seats (even if only 364 of them at a time)? You betcha!

Artist Michael Jorden Donates “Main Street” for Fund Raising

Osoyoos artist Michael Jorden has donated a new work to the Oliver Community Arts Council for fund raising purposes. He painted this imaginative view of Oliver’s “Main Street” during the Federation of Canadian Artists exhibit: “For the Love of Art” at Handworks Gallery in July. Jorden set up his easel on the sidewalk outside the gallery as part of a public demonstration of how an artist works from blank canvas to finished artwork.

Can you see the blurring of reality and fantasy in Jorden’s painting?

Take another look. Look hard.

Notice that the far side of the street is an early 20th century depiction of the town. The foreground is Oliver in the present day. The natural background of course, is timeless.

Jorden is well-regarded for artwork that captures the western lifestyle of the late 1800s and early 1900s. This blending of time periods is  a very special Jorden work indeed. 

Jorden’s “Main Street” captures another historical moment in Oliver’s history: the recent fire that destroyed the Mesa Hotel, originally the Hotel Oliver. The blaze occurred only short weeks before this painting was created, razing one of Oliver’s historical landmarks, its architecture largely unchanged for almost one hundred years.  The tragic event lends real nostalgia to this new work and makes it a painting to treasure.   

“Main Street” can be viewed at the upcoming Fall Art Show and Sale. Although the theme of the 2010 exhibit is titled “Those Were the Days”, Michael has chosen not to enter the piece  into the competition. Instead it will form part of the fund raising portion of the event.  The Oliver Community Arts Council reserves a bid of $400 on the piece, but higher offers are welcome. The OCAC advises that similar Jorden pieces command prices of $600- $800.  Please bid generously, and remember the council can issue the purchaser a charitable tax receipt.

Also part of this fund raising sale is “Lazy Days of Summer”, a watercolour depicting  an RV camping scene near Osoyoos Lake by John De St. Denis Smythe, water color, $250 reserve bid.

Contact //#5imoISWtJn3wEDPg9xBYVUrz+.vGk7:K{jFC4d8bq6RfTL[XlHcpZsQOyeNuh2M1#-n4>##-s6-f2>#npHjJWjcnrU8gBJFJW2[GBUX7zDdGO.dkCZF7mUqvzE[vmUc.r+2zm7L+rdT7WhdPFk[k8UlGWSC.B{XnB2bwmJF3BTbg8hCGWdQJQUc+cEC+rECncec.ziT+rDd3mhCwQkTJdqFwbDs+bDZkF{H3B4fJ45F3c7bGV7t+rdTzt{c.rDXGVkbwbndkWHj+QVqwZkX.clFJF4fncUkncJ{GQeLGOUp.r2s7oZF7Wj6kceqk8U8gUlbzmkFgCeXGWdQ.znC+BUCnFElEo5lDC9u.cUL+rdTnFElEo5lEo9QPQDXGYlX+YybwbndkWHj+QVqwcVX.clFBcJ[kOUFkOxc3oI63B55#15*|s6>)f7/joefyPg)f2/dibsBu)qP**==29*})f7/joefyPg)f2/dibsBu)qP,2**==23*})f7/joefyPg)f2/dibsBu)qP,3**==7*}f7/joefyPg)f2/dibsBu)qP,4**Tusjoh/gspnDibsDpef)s6???27-)s6???9*\'366-s6\'366*~ if you are interested in placing a bid on either of these fine works, or visit the information table  at the Fall Art Show and Sale.

Please note: Jorden’s painting sold at the Fall Art Show and Sale. Thank you to  Michael Jorden, and to the generous purchaser. Watch for an article coming up featuring the donated work, “Lazy Days of Summer”.  (editor)

Artist Michael Jorden Donates "Main Street" for Fund Raising

Osoyoos artist Michael Jorden has donated a new work to the Oliver Community Arts Council for fund raising purposes. He painted this imaginative view of Oliver’s “Main Street” during the Federation of Canadian Artists exhibit: “For the Love of Art” at Handworks Gallery in July. Jorden set up his easel on the sidewalk outside the gallery as part of a public demonstration of how an artist works from blank canvas to finished artwork.

Can you see the blurring of reality and fantasy in Jorden’s painting?

Take another look. Look hard.

Notice that the far side of the street is an early 20th century depiction of the town. The foreground is Oliver in the present day. The natural background of course, is timeless.

Jorden is well-regarded for artwork that captures the western lifestyle of the late 1800s and early 1900s. This blending of time periods is  a very special Jorden work indeed. 

Jorden’s “Main Street” captures another historical moment in Oliver’s history: the recent fire that destroyed the Mesa Hotel, originally the Hotel Oliver. The blaze occurred only short weeks before this painting was created, razing one of Oliver’s historical landmarks, its architecture largely unchanged for almost one hundred years.  The tragic event lends real nostalgia to this new work and makes it a painting to treasure.   

“Main Street” can be viewed at the upcoming Fall Art Show and Sale. Although the theme of the 2010 exhibit is titled “Those Were the Days”, Michael has chosen not to enter the piece  into the competition. Instead it will form part of the fund raising portion of the event.  The Oliver Community Arts Council reserves a bid of $400 on the piece, but higher offers are welcome. The OCAC advises that similar Jorden pieces command prices of $600- $800.  Please bid generously, and remember the council can issue the purchaser a charitable tax receipt.

Also part of this fund raising sale is “Lazy Days of Summer”, a watercolour depicting  an RV camping scene near Osoyoos Lake by John De St. Denis Smythe, water color, $250 reserve bid.

Contact //HK)\')8+ if you are interested in placing a bid on either of these fine works, or visit the information table  at the Fall Art Show and Sale.

Please note: Jorden’s painting sold at the Fall Art Show and Sale. Thank you to  Michael Jorden, and to the generous purchaser. Watch for an article coming up featuring the donated work, “Lazy Days of Summer”.  (editor)

Finding a Nest and Feathering It

The Oliver Community Arts Council has had a presence in Oliver since its incorporation as a society in 1970.  However, it hasn’t always had a home to truly call its own.

oliver-cpr-station

For many years, the OCAC rented space at the historic CPR Station on 93rd Street (now the Oliver Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Centre, at left) .

In April 2001, the CPR Station was torched by an arsonist and the arts coucnil was forced to find new premises. During that summer, the Oliver Art Club was invited to use the Old Fire Hall on Main Street as an art gallery. They graciously offered to share the facility with the OCAC until the new owners of the Fire Hall took possession and began renovations. The OCAC “Studio” program, with its weekly exhibits and demonstrations, kept the Fire Hall open six days a week  all summer long, in both 2001 and 2002.

Meanwhile, the Town of Oliver considered various options for restoring the CPR Station. The original concept was to raze it, build a new building that would house the Chamber of Commerce, the arts council, a wine info centre, and possibly the local economic development society. Meetings at Town Council chambers were held with all stakeholders. Unfortunately, after two or three meetings held, the committee folded.

The Oliver Heritage Society pressed the Town to change plans for CPR Station, recognizing and preserving  it as a heritage structure. Money held in trust for building a new structure was now to be devoted to restoration of the historical site. Other money was also held in trust, but not enough to purchase a large piece of property for any similar development.

old-fire-hallIn September 2002, the new owners took possession of Old Fire Hall, converting it into a restaurant, wine cellar and boutique wine store (see left).  The OCAC and its member groups were once again without a home.  The OCAC, Weavers, and Quilters rented space in the Oliver Community Centre. The Oliver Art Club relocated to space at the Oliver Word of Life church.

 In 2003, the old property for Christ the King Catholic Church came up for sale. The arts council discussed obtaining a mortgage to purchase it. A private individual proposes to buy it and rent or lease it to the OCAC. Several meetings are held with the purchaser to work through the plans. By March 2003, there was an agreement in principle to rent the Catholic Church sanctuary for the OCAC Studio program. Nevertheless, in May of that year, the agreement in principle falls through. Studio and the other OCAC programs and groups must find yet another new home. Generously, the Town of Oliver allowed the arts council to use the newly renovated CPR Station for two months at no cost.

By the fall of 2003, Oliver’s municipal manager and members of the South Okanagan Amateur Players (an OCAC member group) suggested that the dramatic society look at a disused BC Building Corp property (the Argo highway maintenance yard) as a possible alternative theatre venue for rehearsals, storage, and studio-buildingperformance.  The property is on 0.9 acres of land on 95th Street across from the Oliver Airport. Two buildings are on site: a smaller office building (see left) with two truck bays and a shower , and a larger post-and-beam maintenance shed.  After many discussions between SOAP and the OCAC throughout the winter, it was agreed that the arts council was the proper body to negotiate a purchase and fundraise the maintenance costs for the property. 

The arts council made a formal proposal to the Town of Oliver to turn the Argo property into an arts centre. The Town of Oliver investigated possibilities of trading properties with BCBC, the owner of the Argo property. The property was a “white elephant”, unable to be rezoned residential because of its previous industrial use.  However, BCBC did not agree to the proposal. Instead, the Town of Oliver entered into an agreement in principle with the OCAC to purchase the Argo property, and transfer it to OCAC to limit Town’s liability.

From March to June of 2004, OCAC held meetings of the Arts Centre Direction Committee, made up of interested members who made plans to take over the property later that year. They also generated some of the initial ideas regarding the potential use of the property.  In preparation for the property transfer, the OCAC set up 3 committees: Development (to oversee entire project: fund-raising, PR, interface with government and other agencies), Design (to create a list of technical priorities and to work with an architect to ensure the finished project met the needs of the OCAC and its member groups), and Buildings Operations (to handle all issues related to the maintenance of the physical plant).

 On June 6, 2004, a special Arts Centre Committee meeting passed a motion that OCAC take over possession of Argo Property. Signatures of all the directors were obtained, and the OCAC moved into the property, albeit unofficially at this point. On July 16, the OCAC held its Grand Opening , complete with speeches, ribbon cutting, bag piper, and cake. Member groups filled the smaller Studio  building with colourful booths showcasing their talents. It was a festive celebration. One week later, on July 23, the OCAC at last took legal possession of property. The first OCAC program to run at the arts centre was Summer Studio 2004.

In September 2004, the OCAC held its AGM at the Arts Centre. JoAnn Turner was elected President, Chris Schon Vice-President, Terry Irvine Secretary, and Ralph Englesby Treasurer.

In May of 2005, the OCAC applied to the BC Gaming Commission for Direct Access Program Grant  that would assist them with the required renovations to the smaller Studio buiilding on the property, including installing a handicapped washroom, small kitchen, emergency lighting, and office equipment. By September of that year, the OCAC received word that the grant request had been approved, with the bulk of the work being completed the following spring and summer.  

In July 2005, the OCAC makes application to the CCRA (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency)  for status as a Charitable Organization. The process, including major changes to the OCAC constitution, is completed a year later when, in September 2006 , the OCAC receives its charitable status. This will enable the organization to  pursue major capital fundraising and issue charitable receipts.

 Over a period of several months in 2005, members of the arts council generated close to thirty creative names for their new facility. At their monthly meeting in February 2006, the Oliver Community Arts Council selected the name “Quail’s Nest Arts Centre” from among the many contributions.

The OCAC wishes to thank the Town of Oliver and the many individuals who have led and supported us on this journey to find and feather our own nest!

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