Posts by Katie Brennan

Headbones Gallery is Back… and better than ever!

A brand new “old” gallery has returned to the Okanagan. Headbones Gallery, begun by Julie Oakes in 1995, which has since had other incarnations in both Toronto and New York, has returned to a brand new purpose built space on Old Kamloops Road just minutes north of Vernon. This newly constructed 3000 square foot building at 6700 Old Kamloops Rd, designed by artist, Julie Oakes was built with the  specific focus on the creation and presentation of visual art; visitors can expect three separate concurrent exhibitions. Gallery director, Richard Fogarty, plans to use the space to expand the awareness of contemporary art by hosting exhibitions that will include the region in a broader art context.

In late December, I had the good fortune of being invited to the space for an opening / dinner party. I’ve been to some great galleries and this one is right on par, easily as beautiful and spacious as the Kelowna or Penticton Art Gallery.

The Picture Gallery

The building is on the left hand side of Old Kamloops Road at 6700 Old Kamloops Rd – to be exact.  This puts it between the SPCA and the Stepping Stones subdivision turnoff. When the gallery is open, which is from Tuesday – Saturday from 11am – 6pm, there is a “Headbones Gallery” sign at the driveway to point you in the right direction. The driveway and walkway is a bit of a climb (bring sturdy shoes) but totally worth it!

As you enter, you are greeted by a pair of larger circular paintings created by Julie Oakes.

larger red circular painting by Julie Oakes

Painting by Julie Oakes

Directly to your right is the Drawers Room. The Drawers specializes in drawing and contemporary works on paper with a small component of sculpture. If there is workmanship with integrity and evidence of the hand in the work, Headbones gives that artist’s work a drawer. The Drawers manages the storage, exhibition, and sales of drawings and works on paper of more than one-hundred visual artists in the gallery. Each artist is featured in a catalogue produced by Rich Fog Micro Publishing with a written commentary by Julie Oakes.

Paper based galleries have become more popular over the years as it benefits all parties involved: galleries can offer a wider range of work at different price points and store it easily in a small amount of space; artists can have work in a larger variety of galleries as paper is much easier to ship than canvases and sculptures.

The "Drawers" and work by Scott P. Ellis

There are a total of three gallery spaces at Headbones:

The Picture Gallery – which is currently showing: Pass The Buddha – Julie Oakes with McEwan, McKinney, Dascalu, Bircher, Bartosik, Smith, McCloskey, Johnson, Bigelow, Thompson, Moraru, Meraji, Ellis, Feught, Singer

The Drawer’s Gallery Scott P. Ellis (see picture above)

R4 Gallery – Erik Jerezano

R4 Gallery – Tony Taylor

Plus a smattering of work all over the place by local, national and international artists.

In addition to a large gallery / studio space in the centre of the building, there are also two small bedrooms / galleries tucked away up on the second floor and a large loading bay, also used a gallery display area. Julie and Richard are hoping to offer residencies in the future where artists can come and stay and work in the space.

Welcome back Headbones Gallery! A great addition to the Okanagan art scene.

Work hung in stairwell up to one of the bedrooms / gallery spaces.

Work hung in bedroom / gallery space.

Loading bay wall. Work in lower left corner by local artist Briar Craig.

New exhibitions at Gallery Vertigo – fun & thought provoking

Two new exhibitions opened last night at Gallery Vertigo, a Vernon art scene main stay.

The first space you enter, the main gallery, is covered by a fun paint-along mural dreamt up by writers and artists Jake Kennedy and kevin mcpherson eckhoff. Kevin and Jake are both creative writing faculty at Okanagan College and general movers and shakers – when they’re not meeting at Denny’s in the middle of the night to commiserate about whatever catches their fancy at 4 in the morning. They both recently gave readings at Gallery Vertigo as part of the Vertigo Voices Series – Jason Dewinetz’s is up next this coming Wed, Nov 24th ( more info:

text mural being painted

Paint on the walls! Yes, the walls.

Kevin and Jake’s mural invites visitors to the gallery to help paint in the text written on the walls – yes, you get paint on the walls!  There are instructions though. Roll the rubik’s cube to decide your colour. Roll again to find out what letter you will be painting. And away you go.

In Gallery 2, is a thoughtful and poignant body of work by Judy Wasylesko called “Just Bones”.  This body of work came about through Judy making funeral arrangements for her father, who recently passed away. As she was discussing the cremation process with the funeral director, she was surprised to learn that the ashes given back are not the full remains of your loved one. When Judy and I first discussed this project and she told me she wanted to work with the larger remains left after cremation, I envisioned that we would be dealing with a full skeleton – a thought that made me, an already squeamish person, even more squeamish. But instead the resulting work has no trace of any kind of ick factor. It is a beautifully quiet and thoughtful show, one of the nicest ones I’ve seen installed in this space at Gallery Vertigo quite frankly.

The gallery is transformed into a gallery / funeral parlor / homage where viewers are asked to consider alternative ways of interning the dead. Judy’s work honours the full remains, transforming them into beautiful contemplative objects, not as the trash they are considered in the traditional cremation process – the larger remains are usually disposed of as medical waste or garbage; pacemakers and defibrillators are recycled. When you first enter space there is a large photo of the remains arranged in a circle.

This piece has been installed in a way that thoughtfully mimics its bookend at the other end of the gallery.

Along the left wall are close-ups of individual bones, that reveal a texture that is surprisingly delicate and fragile. It seems that if you were to touch them, they would crumble.

Both of these shows run until Saturday, December 11th.

Don’t live in Vernon? Make a day of it. There is a fabulous restaurant called Bamboo Beach Fusion Grill (a Japanese fusion restaurant, where under $11 will get you a beautiful lunch of items like ramen noodle soup, tempura set or their delicious daily quiche special).  After that, wander the other way down 30th Ave (Vernon’s mainstreet) to the Bean Scene Coffeehouse (the best coffee in Vernon). They’ve just started featuring gluten free muffins for sensitive folks out there.

Gallery Vertigo is located upstairs at 3001-31st Street in downtown Vernon, BC, (V1T 5H8) in the historical Winnipeg Union Bank. Our hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Please call the gallery at 250-503-2297 for more information.