Posts in Photography

She Says She Has Anxiety, They Say It’s Just A Phase

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It’s quarter to seven on a Friday. I sit listless in the passenger seat of my sisters 4 door sassy sedan, which we think in its past life was a basset hound; all stubbornness and no motivation. We clunk and sputter in silence to the Alternator Centre, where tonight, Pierre Leichner’s opening exhibition entitled “They Say She is Bipolar and He’s Got ADD: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Text Re-revised And Related Texts” opens to the public. It’s a mouthful to say, and I bet you all my pocket and couch change that you can’t say it five times fast, but we are both excited to attend, even though looking at the two of us, you wouldn’t be able to tell.

“How are you?” I ask Kelsi, my sister and co-contributor/photographer-extraordinaire/high-five expert. And while on this may seem a pretty simplistic, everyday run-of-the-mill question, so on-the-surface-mundane to the likes of something such as “pass the butter?”, to the two of us, it is a required question that is riddled with layers.

“I’m okay,” she says. They are two words, but they are deep and carry multiple and complex things. Much like the content that Leichner’s series of art sculpted from the DSM.

I don’t know anyone these days that isn’t touched by someone or some incident of mental health, though you really have to get to know a person, it seems, to find this out. Mental Illness carries a stigma that is literally like that large grey mammal with a trunk in the room; you know it’s there, you know it exists, but it’s swept under a living room rug along with dusty bunnies and spare bobby pins or pennies that you’re too lazy to pick up off the floor because it’s a subject that is touchy, taboo and just not talked about.

But why?

For my sister and I, mental illness is about as talked about as Justin Bieber’s relationship status between two LG’s. Kelsi has a Social Anxiety Disorder. It means she has an extremely difficult time in social situations, which often makes it tricky for her to leave the house, carry on a conventional minimum wage jobs that are in keeping with your early 20’s, and going to class at the college proves to be a constant, panic attack-y uphill struggle. So when I ask her how she is doing, I’m not just asking for shits and giggles. It’s a loaded question, and a necessity.

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Art has many functions, but for artist researcher, Pierre Leichner, it is a tool for change. Pierre has dedicated 30 years of his life to psychiatry, and spent the previous 10 attaining his BFA at Emily Carr, his MA at Concordia. He left his practice 3 years ago to work on an artistic expression that carries significant, social commentaries that cater to social justice issues. His exhibition is a compilation of various Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals (DSM) that seeks to create a commentary, a critique on the state of Mental Health these days that, he says, grew out of a dissatisfaction with the system itself.

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The Year of the Eagle?

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It’s a perfect Easter weekend! I’ve seen more bald eagles this spring than ever before!

Spotted! Under the Sea at Don’t Look Down

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Depending on the time of day and year I’ve been known to wander Kelowna’s back alley’s to get places quicker, or just with a different perspective. Finding great pieces of graffiti like this is exactly why.

Windmills/Wild Son/Van Damsel

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The day began with a blur, as I stared out towards the city and the oncoming hail storm.
Driving through this destructive force in a Nova. I arrived home, grabbed my gear and set out to Fernando’s Pub to catch the show.
Amidst the rumbling music from within, the line was hectic and filled with ever-growing impatience. I waited too, until my brief words caught me a break.

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Inside everywhere, a graphic blur of faces, colours and ambiance as the music droned on. I moved my way through the crowd, took root by the sidelines and snapped my camera in a wild frenzy of musical chaos. Weaving in between the audience capturing the night, Wild Son took the stage.

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Tonight was different, there was an energy that felt new and inspired, activating some uncontrollable force from the crowd. Everyone gyrating as if something unknown was possessing them to carry on such outbursts. It was beautiful, the bands played extremely well.

Windmills played first, then Van Damsel, finishing with Wild Son. A musical collection of vibrating rhythms, melodies and subtle tones that leave you wanting more.

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These bands are from the Okanagan area and I suggest to anyone reading that hasn’t heard of these bands—to go check them out, now. For more information on any of these bands, click their names above.

Okanagan Arts Awards 2013

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Last night I attended the prestigious Okanagan Arts Awards at the Kelowna Community Theatre; the Okanagan’s version of the Hollywood red carpet event. Forget about the Oscars; the true achievements and people we should be celebrating, are right here in our community. The doors to the event opened at 6pm, giving the guests and nominees an hour to mill around the lobby mingling over complimentary wine and appetizers provided by Summerhill Pyramid Winery and Chef Michael Lyon. At 7pm everybody filed into the theatre for the awards ceremony hosted by CBC’s Gillianne Richards & Chris Walker.

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Ten large glass sculpture awards, created by Lake Country artist Bruce Taiji entitled, “Okanagan Refractured”, were given out in 10 categories. A link to the complete list of nominees can be found at the bottom of this article. There were 44 nominees in total. The winners of each category were:

David Mcilvride, from Kelowna, in Media Arts

Craig Thompson, from Kelowna, in Music

Sterling Haynes, from Westbank, in Literary Arts

Vicki View, from Kelowna, in Dance

Crystal Kay Przybille, from Kelowna, in Visual Arts

Trevor Butler, from Kelowna, in Design

Matt Brown, from Vernon, in Theatre

Robert MacDonald, from Kelowna, for Supporter of the Arts

Michelle Loughery, from Vernon, for Arts Educator

Creator’s Arts Centre, from Kelowna, for Central Okanagan Foundation Arts Association Award

Robert Dow Reid, from Kelowna, for Lifetime Achievement Award

The award presentations were interspersed with performances including dance, music, theatre, acrobatics, opera, and literary reading. The official after show after party was held at Hanna’s Lounge and Grill on the waterfront. The party was exclusive to Okanagan Arts Awards Show ticket holders and included free snack platters and live music.

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View the 2013 nominees here.

Interview with Calgary Musician Matt Blais

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On Wednesday night I had the great privilege and honor of conducting my very first interview with Calgary rock musician Matt Blais outside of Fernando’s pub. Having been born and raised in Alberta myself, and having spent some time living in Calgary, I felt a strong connection to this friendly, outgoing musician. Together we made slight banter and jest of my small hometown which many have never even heard of, and I made connections to names and places he spoke about.

The rest of Matt’s band was equally friendly and open. His back up members for this leg of the tour consisted of: Joel Fraser on guitar, Sean Peters on Bass, and Kyle Kobylka on drums. When I arrived at the venue I nabbed Matt alone for the interview and we went outside to talk about his new album which was just released the day before. Alone on the sidewalk, beside the torn up street, our conversation was accompanied by the cool ambient combination of purring construction and the music coming from Fernando’s outside speakers. I opened up my notebook and the interview began:

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Are the supporting members an ever changing line up?
Depending on the show, the size of the venue, we change it up. For the most part I use a core group of guys. For this part of the tour we don’t have a saxophone player. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we have a keyboard player, sometimes we don’t. Some shows are acoustic and we tell the drummer to stay home. It’s always changing which is good for us and good for the audience because I get to switch up what I want to play and I don’t want to get bored playing the same stuff all the time.

How is your new album different from the other two?
I wanted to capture what we were doing on stage. My last album, “Let it Out”, was more studio orientated. All the parts were created in the studio, it was like a Beatles album where we experimented with which sounds we could create.  With the new album I wanted to capture what we’ve been doing live all across the country in front of an audience. It was about trying to get all that living, breathing entity onto the record, and that’s why we called it “The Heartbeat”, because we wanted it to in every possible way be, and feel alive.

How would you describe your writing process, and what is your favorite setting to write in?
I keep a bunch of guitars out and around my apartment for when that moment of creativity hits. I’ve written songs in my sleep before where I woke up and had to get it down. I write based on emotions, I don’t read the papers and write songs about that, for me it’s more I’m frustrated as hell and I want to get it out. It doesn’t have to be my experiences either, I’ve seen my friends go through some problems and I’ve written about that.

How did you come up with your signature raspy voice?
I never did it on purpose, that’s just how I sing. It is what it is, it’s definitely not a choice. Sometimes it would be nice to not have a little rasp. But it’s definitely suited to the blues, I think.

If you could sound like any other singer who would you want to sound like?
Nat King Cole. I think he has the best voice ever. I got a couple of his records that I love to spin, and not just the Christmas stuff.

What about rock n roll speaks to you over any other genre?
It’s the energy, the spirit and the substance. There’s that pop side that pulls you in. It’s a lifestyle, and an art style, and I find that it’s very inclusive for everybody. Everybody wants to be a rock star. I may be biased, but I find it hard to believe there’s anybody out there who doesn’t love the beatles.

Who were you influenced by?
I was definitely a child of the sixties. I grew up with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, all those classics. I recently really got into blues artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sam Roberts, Bruce Springsteen, Ben Kweller and the Heavy from England.

I was mainly influenced, especially song writing wise, by early Bob Dylan and Kat Stevens and some of those guys. So the acoustic singer-songwriter in the lone spotlight has always been intriguing to me.

I’ve always been a fan of Roots, whether it be folk, blues, maybe a little bit of country. So that has made it into my music. My slant towards blues has definitely increased lately, I’ve been really focusing on my harmonica playing.

What do you think of BC?
It’s different. It’s a little laid back, people aren’t afraid to get up and dance. They’re  free spirited and don’t care who’s watching. BC is beautiful and we don’t have to dress as warm, if the van breaks down we won’t freeze to death. And Kelowna’s a wonderful town, lots of beautiful people live in this town.

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I had a lot of fun interviewing Matt Blais, very cool guy. The show was a nice change from the shows I’m used to seeing in Kelowna, not a lot of classic/modern rock artists come through here. It was the first time in a while I left a venue with my ears ringing. I’m excited for them to return in the summer when the construction is complete, these guys deserve a full house.

http://mattblaismusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-heartbeat

Festival in a Box

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Is nothing happening at your favorite venues? Do you take walks through public parks by yourself and sit down on their benches just because there’s nothing better to do? Why not make the party happen where you are by livening up those desolate parks and distinguish them from the solemn cemeteries across the street? This is exactly what local artist Corie Waugh did this Saturday at Knowles Heritage Park on the corner of Bernard and Ethel. What started out as a course project suddenly grew into something much more ambitious and involved.

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An experiment in the use of public space and community, the event involved what could be described as a portable venue. Unpacked from the back of her vehicle and set up by hand was the shell of a shelter that would soon be transformed into a vibrant hub for all kinds of creativity and talent. What was this foldable haven you may be wondering? It was a cardboard “house” complete with a door and a window. The ceiling consisted of a tarp that was set up during the short hail and rain that befell the party twice that day, and though the weather may have dampened the cardboard it did not dampen the spirits of the attendees.

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The interior walls of the structure were decorated with art pieces submitted by a dozen artists, sound equipment was set up on one side, and a piece of cardboard lying on the grass acted as the stage. When the sun was shining and the hail had ceased the rooftop was simply retracted to create that sensation of being at an open air performance while simultaneously being indoors.

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Performances were all voluntary, put on in a sort of open mic fashion. There were almost a dozen of them ranging across many varied disciplines. A performance art piece put on outside of the box (figuratively and literally) by performance artists Scott Mendonca and Kevin Jesuino (award nominee at the Okanagan Arts Awards being held March 2nd) involved them walking conspicuously around the park while having a conversation over cell phones.  At the end it was revealed to the somewhat bemused onlookers that the performance was in fact a critique on private conversations in public spaces. Acts inside the box (literally, not figuratively) involved many musical and spoken word performances.

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The parks tenebrous silence was lifted with zesty music put on by:

  • Liam Park
  • Jeff Ellum
  • Joshua Theobold
  • Sami Al-Khalili
  • Andrew Edwards
  • Colin Shand

Intoxicating spoken word performed by:

  • Nathan Hare
  • Nygel Metcalfe
  • Minka Wolanski
  • Cherie Hanson

And delicate visual morsels provided by:

  • Jeff Ellum
  • Heather Leier
  • Hanss Lujan
  • Julia Prudhomme
  • Anthony Ross
  • Jena Stillwell
  • Kristoff Steinruk
  • Dean Krawchuk
  • Abbey Cipes
  • Kelsi Barkved
  • Sylvia Miranda
  • Corie Waugh

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The line-up was all local and can be found around town being active in their pursuits at places like the Rotary Center for the Arts and events such as Inspired Word Café (which I intend to cover in the future!).

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If you’re wondering how you missed such an interesting convention it’s because it was not widely advertised except mostly through word of mouth. Hopefully this article will motivate you to get more involved in your local art community or start making some waves yourself. Next time you feel like complaining that “nothing ever happens around here”, just remember to think outside the box!

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Lois Lane

If you are bored with low cloud blues go snoop at Lois Lane in Kelowna interesting treasures to be found!