Wine Capital Art Walk begins

It may only last an evening, but it is the vision of downtown Oliver that artists would like to see 365 days a year. The Wine Capital Art Walk converts the 6200 block of Main Street into a feast for the senses on Thursday May 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. A dozen businesses host two dozen artists in a variety of visual and performance media. Wine barrels come to colourful life on the Mesa Hotel lot, under the creative hands of several artists. Children from Sen Pok Chin proudly display their mural and join other youthful artists to paint the town – or at least its sidewalks.  Wine tastings and restaurant fare tempt the palate. All the excitement culminates at Medici’s Gelateria at 8:30 p.m. when winners of several draws are announced.

Art Walk organizers, a partnership between the Oliver Community Arts Council and the Oliver Tourism Association, want to help revitalize the downtown with their creative energy. “We know Oliver is a hub of artistic talent,” says Penelope Johnson of the arts council. “This is our dream of what could eventually become a typical evening in Oliver.” Tony Munday, OTA chair, agrees: “Our aim is to inspire residents and visitors: This event is a celebration of everything that makes Oliver a unique place to live and visit.”

In anticipation of the art walk, several artists will begin wine barrel painting on Monday May 8 and continue daily between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the lot between Amore’s Pizza and OK Photo Lab. Visitors to the downtown are invited to stroll through to view the barrels in progress, chat with the artists, and place “silent” bids each day. The finished barrels, which make attractive show pieces for gardens, patios, and homes, will be auctioned off at the conclusion of Thursday’s Art Walk. Minimum bid: $150. Marion Trimble, co-ordinating the wine barrel event, adds, “On May 11, we will have demonstrations by chainsaw carver Mary Kay Crawford on site.” Trimble also invites donations to Highway 2 Healing that evening: “The Main Street event is on the highway after all.” H2H volunteers will sell wine glasses and T-shirts.

Under the guidance of Arty Smarty teacher, Leza Macdonald, a group of elementary school children will be adding vibrant colours to the Town Hall rose garden. They will transform the drab sidewalks between the beds into a rainbow of chalk drawings. Sen Pok Chin students will display a mural created with their instructor, celebrated Cree artist Jerry Whitehead.

Each participating business between Fairview and Bank will host two artists. Media including photography, jewelry, wood carving, dance, encaustic (wax), fibre arts, paintings, quilts, digital art, poetry will be on display and for sale. Visit with all the artists on site. Three businesses are licensed to serve wine tastings: OK Photo Lab, Beyond Bliss Esthetics, and Baguette and Brioche, courtesy of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association (OOWA). To satisfy serious appetites, Gecko’s Grill, Amore’s Pizza, and Medici’s Gelateria will be open.

For a chance to win prizes, pick up an Art Walk passport, available now at any of the participating businesses on the 6200 block of Main Street between Fairview and Bank or at the wine barrel painting site. During the Thursday Art Walk, passports will also be available at the welcome table on the grounds of the Town Office. Take it with you as you visit each business to view art and do a little evening shopping. Have your passport stamped at each shop before you leave, then submit your passport to be entered in a draw for a gift basket.

Country rock duo Rebel Luv will pump out the tunes from the steps of the Town Hall starting at 6 p.m. Visit the welcome table on the municipal office grounds, not only to pick up an Art Walk passport, but also to learn about upcoming arts events. Sign up on site for the Canada 150 Mosaic Mural Project: choose a one-hour slot between May 30 and June 1 to paint your tile in a large mosaic artwork to be installed in the downtown later this year.

After the downtown closes at 8 p.m. a Wine’d Up Party continues at Medici’s Gelateria. Sip a latte and view an exhibit of artwork by the Oliver Sagebrushers while you wait for several winners to be announced. One lucky Art Walk passport holder will win a gift basket of art and wine. Winners of the wine barrel silent auction can roll on home with their prizes. The Uncork the Sun (OOWA) colouring contest winner will also be revealed, with a wine fridge as prize. A highly anticipated draw for a Robert E Wood painting, to benefit the new piano in the Venables Theatre atrium, will also be announced. Artwork co-ordinator Tara Hovanes sums it up best however: “When we join in the celebration of Oliver’s artistic talents, we’re all winners.”