Posts in These People Are A-OK

These People Are A-OK: Alexandra Tremblay

Alexandra Tremblay is a mixed media artist who has been living in Kelowna for the past 2 years.

Alexandra Tremblay

What drew you to start working with felts?
The thought of working with raw fibers and building a fabric that could be used for so many purposes, such as clothing, bags pillows and creations on canvasses inspired me, from the ground up.

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Did you grow up around artists?
I do come from a family of artists, my Mother is a mixed-media artist and was an art teacher for 15 years, Father a photographer, Step-Dad a wood turner/carver, Brother a graphic designer and a nice history of artists… Grandmother and others, it’s in my blood.

Which artists have inspired you or which would you say are your personal favorite?
I love a variety of artists… from Van Goh to Dali, Picasso, Alex Grey… the classics.

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Why did you move to Kelowna?
I got my diploma in fiber arts from the Kootenay School of arts in Nelson and thought that Kelowna would be more into the arts because of its size.

What’s your favorite drink?
A nice cold pint of Honey Sleeman’s sounds pretty good to me.

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You work with a variety of mediums – which are the hardest to work with and why?
Felting has sooo many steps, its quite the process… laying and building the fibers… working with boiling water; lots of physical work. It takes a lot of time and it changes a lot through the process so it can be a little surprise, the outcome.

Also it is very delicate for a long time until it becomes an actual fabric.

How does your artwork make you feel?
It drives me completely wild… like a mad woman… but it also seems to be one of the only things that keeps me balanced. I put all my fears, pains, dreams passions, visions from within my being and it transcends and explodes leaving me full, empty, ecstatic, crazed, strong. It can bring me such a joie de vivre… but it must be shared as it’s too much energy for me to keep around. I must share the beauty and the intensity with others.

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What do you want others to feel when they view your artwork?
I want to inspire others… its fantasy, to find their story within, to travel, to be in awe, to feel lost and confused maybe… to make people feel.

These People Are A-OK: Topher Edwards

I recently tracked down graphic artist Topher Edwards, a talented pixel-pusher I’ve known of (thanks to mutual friends at Mosaic Books) for a couple years. As is often the case with the internets, I soon realized I knew his work before I knew him personally (Topher, I even have one of your PMA Podcast images in my inspiration folder, so there). His is the kind of work I would expect to see on Grain Edit or some equally incredible blog. It’s tight. So tight that I’m practically foaming-at-the-mouth-excited to be able to pick his brain and share this interview with you.

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When did you first catch the design bug?
Around grade 6, back when the internet took 24 hours to download a single song, I was learning HTML and building websites to host my growing collection of skateboarding videos. It must have started around then. (I was much better at HTML in grade 6 then than I am now, unfortunately.) When I went in to high school I stopped coding and got into music, so I was learning Pro Tools instead but ended up going to school for coding in a roundabout way. It was there I learned about Shepard Fairey and Obey who ultimately inspired me to do graphic design. I saw the fun in it; making art with propose and message became an important tool to spread my own views, ideas and creativity whether it’s on the street, on paper or on the web.

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How long have you been doing it for now?
I started school in 2007 with no real skills other than bad Photoshop filters. Graduated in 2009 and have been working as a full time designer since then.

What’s your relationship to the Okanagan?
I moved to the Okanagan immediately after graduating and landed my first paid design gig in the Okanagan.

What types of local business have you worked with?
A month after moving to Kelowna, I was offered a full time design position at Vital Waters after meeting the owner at a print shop I was working at. After a few months I was offered a job at Think Marketing where I worked with all kinds of local businesses like, Lake City Casinos, PlayGolf Kelowna, BOSS Manufacturing, K963 and many others.

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What inspires your work?
I am a vintage and retro enthusiast. I love neon lights, hand-painted signs and the simplicity of a time I wasn’t even alive in. I see the world as a busy, complicated place with too much visual information overloading us in our day-to-day. I like to take a step back and keep things simple. Classic is classic for a reason; it’s simple, it’s strong, it has staying power. I want to design with staying power that generally means cutting back on the hokey shit like drop shadows, glows, and make it ‘pop’ mentality. I see good design as the strong, silent type that becomes a pleasant addition to our environment rather than and intrusive, attention grabber. When I see it working – it inspires me to work harder to be better at just that.

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You recently moved to Vancouver but are still working on projects in the Okanagan. What are some of these and what are you doing for them?
Though I am juggling a few big design jobs right now, Okanagan Home Magazine took me on as Creative Director last year allowing me to work with all the advertisers in the magazine. In a way, I am working with 50+ Okanagan businesses at any given time now on ads for the magazine as well as the editorial layouts.

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Do you have any favourite Okanagan musicians/designers?
I’m a huge fan of Jon-Rae Fletcher and loved his music long before I even moved to the Okanagan. As far as designers, I really respect the work of Tara Simpson, a freelancer and friend in Kelowna. We worked together at Think and find her professional style truly inspiring. I also worked alongside Sean Shepard who pushed my abilities outside of the walls I usually put up. He puts a lot of personality and brilliance into his work – also great at spinning vinyl while we’re talking about musicians.

These People Are A-OK: James Mullan

Always striving for fun and environmentally conscience adventures, I’ve come to be a huge fan of the good ‘ol farmers market. Kelowna should be proud of such a thing as the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market is glorious. Loads of artwork, jewellery, food and of course, jolly farmers!

I’ve got to know a few of the vendors and one of which is my friend James Mullan who is the Owner/Chef at The Allergic Chef food allergy consulting services. He specializes in gluten-free and lactose-free living which I believe is extremely valuable as I am learning more and more people are relating stomach issues, etc, back to their diet. I know I have had indigestion problems for awhile but only recently have I discovered that gluten and dairy are most likely the causes. Luckily, there is James close by to help!

The man himself Mr. James Mullan at his booth at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market.

So I encourage you all to check out the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am-1pm until October 31 then the schedule will change as it will be moved indoors. And don’t forget to visit the friendly James Mullan and have yourself a tasty cookie, slice of banana bread or get a mouthful of information about your diet and health from the Allergic Chef.

Cheers for now!

These People Are A-OK: Tanja Woloshen

If you have spent much time at the RCA this week, you have probably seen a nymph dancing around the Alternator gallery, or someone drawing precariously from the top of a ladder. Those two women are Tanja Woloshen and me – Brit Bachmann – installing for Tanja’s performance piece, Room for the Underdog happening this Friday.

Tanja is a live artist, dancer, choreographer and teacher from Winnipeg, currently based in the Okanagan. She is a UBCO MFA candidate, and Room for the Underdog marks the end of her degree. Although this weekend’s performance encompasses many themes, it is primarily an exploration of queer and gender studies. Tanja, being one of the most manically difficult women to pin down, agreed to an email interview:

It is impossible to discuss your art without mentioning rhizome. For those who don’t know, rhizome is a botany term that refers to the lateral growth of roots. It is a contemporary remodelling of the word, rhizousthai, which means to take root. How is rhizome interpreted in your performance practice?
Yes! The rhizome! Thanks for bringing this up. It was near the beginning of my MFA program where I was feeling a bit like my head was lost in dense theory clouds, and my body felt very ungrounded. As a dancer, this feeling was quite unsettling to my practice to say the least, scary even. It was during a session in the dance studio, as I was improvising and preparing for a show, that the notion of rooting came through my movement and lyrical writing. I became very interested in how through the body we can connect new, past, and present experiences, and how they are / we are growing sideways, intertwining as part of a larger cosmology. It was from that curiosity that I structured a piece called lady rhizome. I can say that this way of being and perceiving – rhizomatics – has influenced my entire body of work, far more than any vertical, hegemonic or capitalist system The rhizome in my art lends to feminist, queer, and maybe  even ecological perspectives.

One fact that people may not know about you is your insatiable fascination with hmmm… objects. A few weeks ago you were kind enough to give me a tour of your studio, which features many of these object. I got to witness you dance through these props with a playfulness that I haven’t experienced myself since I was a child. Are these meant to channel your inner child, or do they serve another purpose?
Haha! Yes- I am working with many ‘objects’ in Room for the Underdog, and I appreciate your discretion keeping them surprises for the show! The early research stages of this work focused on recognizing queerness; I was stumbling with how I wanted to explore this, without say, creating a queer wedding- which has been done before and is very politically complex. As I broadened my perspective, I thought of children, of how/when/why we teach them about ‘normal’ and how children are queer. By that, I mean that children are queer in time and space with their imaginations and perceptions of the world. I started to introduce my ‘objects’ to create a space loaded with memories of celebrations, anniversaries and rituals. I also like using them as metaphors of containers. They’re also suynthetic and fragile and fascinating… I could go on!

I am going to digress to a little self-flattery now- what attracts you to my continuous line drawings? Although we specialize in different mediums, our styles complement each other quite well. Why do you think that is?
Brit Bachmann, yes! You deserve some flattery, absolutely. It’s a bit magnificent that I found you! I feel so very lucky. In a very early stage of Room for the Underdog, I had taped some drawings to my studio wall, thinking I would expand them for my show. I wanted to intuitively create a space that was like a queer paracosm. However, creating drawings would have been a huge stretch for my practice. Rewind six months to when I attended a show in the FINA Gallery at UBCO- I saw an unfolded, almost accordion-like booklet of line drawings that completely intrigued me. So much so, that I took a picture of the work and made a mental note to find the artist. Fast forward to a couple months ago- I was asking around for artist recommendations and Amy Modahl suggested you! I love when connections happen like this. You and I were a collaboration waiting to bloom! And to answer your question, your work appeals to me because it branches off the same energy that I dance to; it seems that we both speak rhizome.

One of our first conversations was about how you practice butoh as an expression of your studies in gender. Can you elaborate?
Butoh, like the rhizome philosophy I mentioned earlier, is about dancing inter-connectively with the universe. The dancing body in butoh isn’t so concerned with gender, it is itself a queer practice in a way. The dance of butoh is a practice of transformation, fluid identities, experiences and shapeshifting perceptions. This may sound overly thoughtful, but it is actually quite freeing. To dance, and allow your body to be like a channel or a conduit is both empowering and humbling. In butoh dance, both feminine and masculine qualities ebb and flow. Although its energy can be very sexual at times, it is a non-gender specific practice, which is refreshing to experience.

Although they can be meditative, practices such an butoh still require an incredible amount of physical and mental endurance. How do you keep your body and mind in sync? Are there certain ways you prepare for your performances?
Definitely. Oftentimes people see butoh onstage or in film, and see it as slow or boring. Still curious, these people take a workshop and KABAM! Hooked. Because the work is largely guided by internal images – which could be anything from wrestling ghosts, having ants overcome your body, or having flowers blossom from your pores – the bodymind need to be both strong and relaxed. Butoh practices for me includes an immense amount of cardiovascular exercise, visualization of movement, and meditation. When I am sourcing a new work, I can spend hours in the studio. I rely on a responsive relationship with my bodymind as I create.

Friday’s performance at the Alternator is the culmination of over a decade’s worth of university study in performance and art history. Now that you will have your Master’s degree, what comes next?
Thank you. It’s nice to see the light and the end of the tunnel! I have been extremely fortunate to keep up my teaching practice and develop my pedagogy in addition to my studies. At UBCO I have had the delightful fortune of teaching movement classes in the performance stream, and (hopefully) inspiring students to discover themselves in their bodies. After my time at UBCO I will be continuing to teach. Fingers crossed! I also have a few dance projects in the cooker: a collaboration with Paris to Kyiv and Balanced Records, a group work about Temple Grandin, and the next shard to a series called Doctrine of Signatures: i Bloodroot, a project I began a few years ago that documents my time in British Columbia. If any botanists out there would like to suggest an indigenous Okanagan plant as this signature, I would be thrilled to hear about it this weekend.

Where: Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art (421 Cawston Ave, Unit 103, Kelowna)
When: Friday, May 25, 2012 — 3:00pm—6:00pm
Artist Reception: Saturday, May 26, 2012 — 5:00pm—7:00pm
How Much: Free
For: Everyone

These People Are A-OK: Leslie Zednai, Penticton Difference Maker

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Leslie Zednai, a Difference Maker in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay

Tomorrow, May 3rd the Rick Hansen 25thAnniversary Relay will be rolling through Penticton and more than 30 local athletes have been chosen to take part in the relay celebration.  One such athlete is Leslie Zednai who was chosen as a Difference Maker in our community through her advocacy for women’s rights.

“I support those individuals who choose empowerment because I believe in walking that fine line where one can maintain integrity and dignity while taking a stand for oneself and for others. When women are empowered a new leadership style is implemented, affecting both genders. Results are in increased economic stability and improved relationships; whether professional, personal, or intimate. It’s time to rise above the gender power struggle and come to a place to really see and value each other. That is a world that I want to live in – it’s one worth working towards.” -Leslie Zednai

The only previous running experience Leslie had prior to her start in 2010 was back in ’95 when she took part in the Vancouver Sun Run 10k, at that time also discovering she had exercise induced asthma, but that’s not holding her back now.

Leslie, Zednai, Rick, Hansen, 25th, Anniversary, Relay, Difference, Maker, Penticton

Leslie getting warmed up for a run along Skaha Lake.

Fast forward 15 years and she’s picked up her running shoes again, just to get that old feeling back. Shocking even herself she was running longer and with more ease than she ever had which motivated her to sign up for the Scorched Sole Ultra 50k in Kelowna the following June.

Having been on crews for various Ultra runners has been a great influence on Leslie, and as so she began training for her first Ultra Marathon in February 2011. Her goals for 2012 are to complete a 100 kilometer, as well as a 100 mile endurance run.

You can catch Leslie and the other 30 Difference Makers in Penticton tomorrow for the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay. Her portion of the relay will be from behind City Hall on Martin and then along Westminster Ave ending just in front of the Bike Barn, watch for her medal bearer number MB254-032.

You can also find Leslie on Twitter @UltraRHighness, or by email at l.zednai@gmail.com

Come down and cheer on your local Difference Makers!

These People Are A-OK: Lisa Brown

Lisa and I met on a boat. Too saccharine to be true, right? What actually happened was she had won tickets to see Greg Sczebel on a boat with her sister/friends and I was there filming our first A-OK Rooftop Sessions with Greg. Lisa and I have very similar attitudes, and by that I mean we’re loud. It didn’t take long for us to meet each other and strike-up a witty rapport. I explained A-OKs mission to showcase all the positive, creative energy and culture in the region and she dug it. Cut to a few months later when I got a call from Lisa. She finally told me what she does and it seemed like a perfect fit for the A-OK. So ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Lisa ‘Expressionate’ Brown.

What do you do here Lisa?
I am primarily a silversmith, I create on-site which is great.  I have my studio in my shop so people can come in and pick what they’d like, I can alter it, I can do repairs and of course I sell my things as well. It’s wonderful to be able to sell it and make it in the same place, it’s something I’ve wanted for a long time.

So what brought you to this particular line of work?
I’ve made jewelry most of my life, right from the time I got out of high school I figured it was a good way to make some money in the summer. Then in ’93 in a random meeting with someone they asked me, “did you know in Kelowna you can sell jewelry right on the beach?” I thought that job was made for me so I moved to Kelowna from Ontario. Got in a van, drove out west. The engine blew up in the Okanagan, on Halloween night, on Westside Road, as the sun was going down.

That sounds like the beginning of a teen slasher flick.
I thought, “Hmmm… apparently I’m supposed to live here.” So I stayed. And I did that for 15 years, I worked out of City Park, re-wrote the program with the City, got people on board, got it a little more functional.

So it’s safe to say this is a passion for you.
Absolutely.

Where can fine folks find your work?
Right now I’m in the Penticton Art Gallery, the Vernon Art Gallery, but primarily I’m here, on-site. In my very first store. I find my biggest challenge right now actually, getting my old clientele to even know where I am. This happened so quickly, like it just it BAM! “Do you want a studio shop?” “Uhhhhhh, ok.” Now I’m a year in and there’s still people looking for me.

Well, you can find Lisa at 2170 Harvey Avenue inside the Ramada Hotel Lobby in Kelowna. Find out more on her Facebook page.

These People Are A-OK: Kelly Shepherd

I have had the pleasure of working with Kelly Shepherd time and again in the Okanagan for multiple events. It’s a small-ish region, so it’s not unusual to cross paths with other like-minded individuals in the area. We had a few free minutes to sit down and chat a bit about what she does.

So what DO you do?
I deal mostly as an entertainment and production director for different events.

Where in the Okanagan do you do these events?
I work at Prospera Place, the Kelowna Community Theatre (KCT), Kelowna City Park.

What kind of events do you put on?
I work for any event. When I get work at Prospera Place it can be anything from Michael Bublé to Tiësto shows we’ll produce ourselves. So really kind of a mixed bag at that venue, and same with the KCT. When there are events we’re putting on we do mostly entertainment and sport and music geared towards the 15-25 age demographic.

What is it about the event industry that draws you to it. Why is it your passion?
It started as an up and coming singer/songwriter and I wanted to get closer to the stage. I was working at Flashback’s and seeing a lot of bands like Nickelback and Jim Cuddy and saw a way to get to the stage from the inside out, which was through production. So I started roading at Prospera Place, and pushing boxes and seeing how everyone else set up their stages and from there I got head-hunted and worked for SW Audio which gave me a lot of experience with the Parks Alive! program. Then I went to school for audio engineering so it’s nice to have a bit of a technical background, but it all kinda started when I was playing music by myself and it’s a really competitive market and I wanted to get closer to some of the bigger stages.

That was a much more well-rounded history than I was even expecting. What can we look forward to seeing from you in the next year?
Well, Center of Gravity is obviously our biggest project. It’s 7 Pro sports, 3 stages and 3 days with over 24,000 people in those days so it takes a bit to put together. I also do little events like FlowRider competitions at H2O with my not-for-profit and then there’s also a partnership with my neighbor where we do this downhill skateboarding event at Skylands. That’s one of the coolest events, six skateboarders in full leather, full helmets racing down Wilden [Road], ripping around these corners and doing big power-slides with hay bales lining the areas that they might crash or wipe out at. It’s just really high-adrenaline and really, really cool to see. I hopefully will do something at Big White this year, hopefully as well… and just building on our current projects.

Awesome. Speaking of awkward segues, what’s the most Awesome thing about the Okanagan?
Oh! There’s some great outdoors venues, I think that we have a lot to offer. Even when I’m driving around high-profile artists performing at Prospera Place I always have people commenting on how beautiful it is with the lake and the mountains and we get a lot of sun. I couldn’t even count how many positive remarks I’ve had from some really large entertainment groups coming through on just how beautiful it is or how beautiful the people are here. The cool thing about Kelowna is it’s kinda like a puddle and when you’re making splashes its a bit more like a wave. If we were all in Vancouver, which is a bit more of an ocean, we’d be competing with a lot more promoters and event producers, people doing the same things we’re doing. Who knows, maybe we’d do well and maybe it would be more challenging, but we’re kind of building the scene here which is kind of nice. I was born and raised here and it’s nice to see the area evolving.

These People Are A-OK: Chantal Couture

Chantal is warm, charming, creative, super funny, and has a bit of a spicy edge. She laughs with ease, cries at commercials and stands strong in the face of adversity. She only knows one line to every song, but sings it with wanton abandon. She is an air band rock star, a dancer with moves like you have never seen, and a catapult to excitement and fun. Her clever mix of the organic with the industrial, the hand picked with the hand made, the whimsy with the essential, has turned her store Funktional into an icon of Kelowna shopping. She is a business woman, an artist, a designer, an inspiration and a lover.

Why We Love It Here

1. EVERY day I’m in Funktional… accessories for you and your friends. I heart this new space like CRAZY!
2. Exterior of the wickedest shop on BERNARD.
3. I love to cook…new favorite, Risotto with oyster mushrooms and pistachios.
4. My favorite human being on the planet, my wife, Taryn.
5. Favorite place to play at home, in the POOL!
6. Favorite lunch, brushcetta & beer.
7. One of my favorite views, out of the airplane window towards an adventure with my love.
8. My other favorite view, our back yard, the greenway.

Why They Love It Here

What neighbourhood do you live in?
Right on the border of South Rutland and South East Kelowna, a river runs through it, orchards and wineries watch over us!

What do you do and where?
I create, buy and sell all things Funktional at 447 Bernard Avenue, downtown Kelowna.

What are you working on?
Living an extraordinary life!

Where can we find your work
Want cool stuff? Come to Funktional!