These People Are A-OK

For more reasons why we love the Okanagan all you need to do is take a look at these glimpses into the day-to-day life of some of our amazing and creative locals.

These People Are A-OK: Opal Michel

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Opal Michel has engaged in a decade long courtship with an art medium who has finally “put a ring on it”. Drawn to Opal like a farmer to a potluck, I am so excited that her skills are for sale! A Photographer, hairdresser, singer/songwriter, doula, a mother of two and a devoted wife: this Vancouver native set out on an adventure and has found her soul path, located in Chase, BC. Fascinated by light, human subjects, concepts of beauty, and defining life moments, Opal knows how to physically soothe a situation, hands on or blending in like a shadow, she has a comforting presence who naturally creates “soft places to land”.

Opal Michel Photography is your latest HOT TIP from me, Mrs. Fagervik, your CREATIVE MAVEN. Hire Opal to capture your life’s moments, and then let her loose and receive a one of a kind hand made memory. Opal Michel LIVES WITH MOXY.

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If photography were your boyfriend, what type of relationship would you have? How long have you been together? How did you meet? Give me the 411
It would probably be like an unrequited love story. Where things never really got of the ground, and then you met one day and it was kismet. And is now my life partner. It’s probably my gay life partner, because I feel like photography is a woman, not a man. It‘s very feminine work for me. My husband has competition; competition that he doesn’t mind.

You are the definition of a Creative Entrepreneur. What does that title mean to you?
That’s a really good question because I have been going through so much emotion about what it means to be a creative entrepreneur because it’s such a vulnerable position to be in. Asking for money for your vision and for the way you see the World: big and scary. It’s also really exciting. It feels really really right and good. And I love that I have complete control over everything. The thing about photography and art in general is that there are no rules. I can do whatever the heck I want. There are a lot of people saying that there should be rules, the Internet is full of them, bossy people telling me what to do. I am shutting them all out. I’m going to do what I want to do with it.

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Your photographs have a distinct sensibility. Can you walk me through your process when setting up a shot?
I consider all of the technical stuff second. First I make a decision that something is beautiful or worth capturing. Then I tap into that feeling of the moment. Then I take into consideration all of the camera settings, and the light quality, and composition. I always have a vision of what the final product will look like so that when I take it into post processing I know what I want from it. It’s so exciting when it works out. It’s a bunch of steps, not just a snapshot with a general intention. I always envision artistically which I want to achieve.

Do you prefer digital or analog photography?
Digital. (Opal answered right away). For sure. I can develop film in a darkroom and I did that in high school, and I wanted to love it because all of my friends loved it, and it seemed to be the cool thing to latch onto artistically at the time in the 90s, but I hated it. I always wanted someone else to make things happen for me. I love computers and I love doing things while sitting down in a chair.

How does technology come into play? You are clearly comfortable on a computer and advertise Creative photo shoot options for your customers, what happens for you creatively once you input your images into the computer?

I don’t want to leave. I can spend hours and hours and hours editing and doing fun creative stuff, pushing my own boundaries, learning. There’s so much to learn about digital photography and what you can do to manipulate the images gets me very excited. I guess you could say that my wife and I have a really good sex life. Yea, it’s just fun.

I have a hunch that you’re creative in many aspects of your life? Can you speak to your relationship with creativity?
I am a singer and I like to pretend to paint. And I love colour and try to inject it into every aspect of our life with my kids and our home. I feel really attracted to other creative people. I’ve never referred to myself as an artist. Growing up it was considered the A word, no one was allowed to call me that, especially my mother. When I was in the fourth grade my mom would say “oh you’re such a little artist Opal”, and I said “no! don’t call me an artist, artists suffer”. I wanted money and I didn’t know how to achieve that in art, until I went to hair school and so much creativity came out of me through that, and then I started to embrace being an artist. Now I’m proud of it. Now I’m proud to say that I’m a stay at home artist.

Where did you grow up? What brought you to Chase BC?
I grew up in East Vancouver, and my first time living outside of Vancouver was moving here to the Adams Lake Reserve in Chase. We moved for our son, so that he could go to Shuswap emersion Elementary School to learn his language. I didn’t know anybody here. No friends, no family, just sort of took a leap of faith. I really love my husband, and I trust him, and it was extremely important for his life and family and his spirit to be here on his land, so I did it for him. I’m so glad I did.

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If you were to trace your relationship with the arts throughout your life, how would it weave its way to this point, the Premiere of your official title as businesswoman?
I would say my mother used to teach me when I was younger that resistance comes before glory, and it was just a huge path of resistance and not wanting to be a professional or a business woman in an artistic field, from complete fear of failure and not having the skills to succeed. That really shifted for me about a year ago when regular work was just crippling my soul. Minimum wage was crippling my soul and doing nothing was crippling my soul. I decided to take my passion to the next level, and try to provide for my family. I was honest to goodness like 5 minutes away from applying for a job at the bank, because that seemed like the best option, and then I just realized that it really was not the best option at all.

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To be present and counted upon during people’s delicate life moments is a heavy agreement. What is it like to arrive with a camera and its lenses? What goes through your mind before hand and then during? How do you feel after?
I really love people so much and I have a natural tendency to want to be in peoples lives and witness their special moments all of the time, for everything: love, birth, any sort of celebration. Life growth, I love witnessing that. It’s a really natural leap, and people request that I have my camera, so that helps. It makes people so uncomfortable to interject photo documentation during vulnerable times, and that’s something that I take really seriously, to try to make people feel really truly comfortable. When working with little children, I like to have them hold the camera and take a picture, show them the buttons and make them play. I like to talk to people about what they’re feeling in the moment, and let them know that I can find these moments and I really do find them beautiful, I want them to know how much I really do LOVE these little details of real life. It’s amazing how many people are some of the most glowing, vibrant, physically beautiful people that you’ve ever seen, and all they can think about is that the pimple on their chin is so ugly and they’re so worried about how they’re going to look in that photo… it makes me want to cry. I can just take that pimple away!

Do you meet with your clients ahead of time, or do you nurture your relationship on site?
Both. Say for birth, I would absolutely meet the client ahead of time, stay in touch, get to know them. Weddings of course, sometimes I will just show up and meet them, but I wont bring the camera out until we’ve established a connection, just to help people feel comfortable. If they’re not, I wont take photos. I wont take a photo if someone doesn’t want their photo taken. I’m a doula as well, and doulas are very hands on, you actually physically comfort women through their pain and birth transition, and that’s always something that comes really naturally to me, to reach out and touch people. That’s something that we learned with hairdressing, and it’s very rare. Within a few moments you’ve met someone, and then you have your hands on their head right away. You’re an alien species who reaches out and puts their hands on their head and feels their skull. Doula is like that as well. You put your hands on a woman’s hips and you soothe her pain. A sisterhood connection with women. I love to take photos of women.

What type of client would make your pulse pound? Who is your dream subject?
I think my dream subjects are anybody who’s willing to take their clothes off, who normally would never take their clothes off. I really really love humans. One of my interests is photographing nudes, and especially women or men who are not your social typical norm or idea of picture perfect beauty, but really really should be the ideal of beauty.

How does it feel to own your own business?
Exhilarating. I really like attention. Now I get to plaster my name everywhere and talk about myself more than usual, so that’s pretty great. I’m not really very shy. I know how to direct people now. Everyone is expecting you to pose them and move them around. Don’t have any problem public speaking or raising my voice to direct a crowd. I also know how to slink into the background if I need too.

What makes OM unique?
I really want to capture people in their natural form and not sugar coat scenarios and families and appearances. So, if I’m used to seeing someone in a dirty shirt and jeans, and they show up in a crisp white ironed shirt and combed hair, that would not be what I want to capture. I’m interested in people as they are, in their lives, in their settings, in their natural environments. I also like to take creative photos that are not realistic at all. It’s important to me too, to do different things and not be rigid in my ideas and style. I like to be flexible.

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Working with an art medium, photography, in this commercial output can be a sticky space for many artists. How do you negotiate your ‘art’ while working for a client?
I want to make sure that my clients have seen what I’ve already done and understand my capabilities and price points, and that they know what they’re getting into. I find that people who love what I do really love what I do, and they want to work with me just based on my portfolio. I had a person recently who wanted to work with me before she saw my photos, and that felt nice: she could tell what I do without meeting me.

1040310_10151728582100336_394198792_oWhat is your vision for OM?

I really want to travel and eventually work in editorial photography and my BIG life goal would be to be working entirely on creative projects and to be published in a major publication. Fashion photography. Avante garde stuff is the direction that I’d like to head in. Yes, I’d like to work in New York city and be a very special person.

What does the word freedom mean to you?
I think that freedom for me is living without fear. Following your heart and your soul path.

Opal Michel Photography
(250) 434-4422
Chase BC
Find her on Facebook
opal@opalmichel.com

These People Are A-OK: Kate Csak

Meet Habitat‘s fourth artist in residence, Kate Csak, a full time artist/illustrator who specializes in photo-realistic work in a range of subjects and mediums. Born in Calgary, Alberta, she lived and grew up always creating images, drawing her surroundings- people, animals, and still life. She is self taught, always experimenting with different mediums and techniques to achieve different results. Much of her inspiration comes from simple objects and things in nature.

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One of the pieces Csak has created for Habitat

“Art is my therapy. The drawing process and practice is a constant discovery, providing a place to explore and process my emotions and thoughts that arise from past, and present experiences. I choose to draw mostly people and animals because I experience life as one and can therefore connect intimately to my work. Their physical beauty symbolises the beauty and depth of emotion the souls on earth are capable of. After 10 years of part time practice, I now made the move to full time art making starting my artist career in 2013.”

I had a moment to chat with Kate about her inspirations and experiences:

What drew you to start creating art?
The enthusiasm started when my Mom first gave me a crayon. Drawing my favourite Disney characters was more important than math homework. My passion for visual exploration has motivated me to nurture my skills through consistent practice. I create art because…It feels good!

Did you grow up around Artists?
My Dad was creative, but my Mom wasn’t  No one ever taught me to draw and it was never encouraged, so when I drew, it just sorta happened. My parents deserve credit for where I am now, but I believe the inherent creative right brain is only part of it. It was my obsession with drawing and drive to practice that led me to improve over time.

Which artists have inspired you or which would you say are your personal favourite?
Surrealist artist Vladimir Kush
Fantasy artists Jim Warren and Josephine Wall
Realism artist Robert bateman

Why did you move to Kelowna?
I felt an intuitive nudge to step out of comfort zone and explore a new place and new people.
Mountains, lake, vegetables, fruit, sun, wine, art… I find Kelowna inspiring! So I moved here :)

What is your favourite drink?
Vanilla stoli and water splash of ginger ale
Grey goose and coconut water
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You work with a variety of mediums — which are the hardest to work with and why?
They all have their challenges, but since oil paintings requires very specific techniques, preparation process, and has an extremely slow drying time, there is no way to get a painting done in  few days, making this medium quite challenging. Also,  it’s very smelly, messy, stains and is hard to clean up…but with its flexibility, texture, and prestige value, is well work it!

How does your artwork make you feel?
Doing art rejuvenates and energizes my system as a whole, bringing me total satisfaction. incorporating my emotions into my drawings and paintings allows me to express what’s true. Creating art work from photographs brings a new degree of life to the subject, through richness and depth of colour overlooked by our minds eye. I feel like I’m attending to people and animals when I draw them, understanding them deeply more and more as I continue to draw them so up close and detailed.

What do you want others to feel when they view your artwork?
Since I like expressing emotions, I want others to feel what it is I’m feeling- appreciation, admiration and curiosity for all living walks of life. Combining realism with dynamic uses of colour I want to convey deeper emotions but in a way that resonates with the audience as being imaginative and truthful at the same time.


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.

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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

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

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.