A print of Shannon Johnston’s winning artwork will be auctioned to raised money for the Okanagan Pride Society’s bursary fund
“Together they are a whole and make up a statement of global love and unity.”
This is how Shannon Johnston describes the mixed media masterpiece being used to brand this year’s Okanagan Pride Festival on her Etsy account, where it will be sold for $140.
She didn’t know it was the winner of an open call for submissions issued by the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art until Saturday’s Pride Festival launch.
“When I was painting this, I just thought it would be a perfect fit for this call out because it was basically all about love and unity and the diversity of people,” she said, noting the triangles depicted represent the mix of individuals—difference races, genders, lifestyles and so forth—pride epitomizes.
With news Vancouver’s Pride celebration is now the biggest tourism draw of the year on the Coast, it is no surprise ticket sales are hopping for the Okanagan events this week as it creates a colourful buzz all over town.
Marissa Brown organized the visual art show at the Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art in which Johnston’s piece is hung; it opened the festival.
Now in its third year, she said their approach has matured enough to throw open the call for submissions to anyone in the LGTBQ community and allied artists—people working in solidarity and support for Pride—to garner a more representative taste of thoughts on their theme: Local Pride, Global Love.
“I like encouraging people who might not think they are artists or wouldn’t necessarily think that their stuff belongs in a gallery,” said Brown.
Submissions from across the Okanagan Valley, and Vancouver, were vetted by a jury and 10 were selected to hang in the gallery.
“This is kind of a different way to approach the festival,” said Brown. “You take the perspective of ten different people and your own perspective and mix them together…It’s a more intimate way of interacting with what could be a pretty political subject.”
Trained in Capilano University’s Studio Arts program, Johnston said she has always felt a little outside the norm herself and tries to live by a non-judgemental creed. The painting, titled Future Scapes, is a mixed media piece with newsprint from a collection of historic lady’s magazines in the background and a constellation-like shape floating over a sphere, “alluding to cosmic energy greater than us” in the foreground.
It was selected as the top submission and turned into postcards being distributed all over town this week because it captures the essence of the theme, representing the global perspective with a mosaic against a backdrop of news.
“There has been a lot of news lately about LGTB rights and human rights issues around the world. With the theme, we want to celebrate the equality and respect we have as an LGTB community locally, and bring attention to the issues in other countries that still need to be addressed,” said Wilbur Turner, president of the Okanagan Pride Society.
The Pride show is on display Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art and the festival is running all week.
Johnston said she is celebrating with tickets to Friday’s drag competition at Habitat and will take her three-year-old daughter to the rally and march Saturday morning, decked out in her rainbow finery.