A sparkling aura glows from the gold-leafed dancer in Roxi Sim-Hermsen’s photographs, an image so apropos for the newly minted Erotic Art Show its almost indescribable.
Now in its sixth year, the Erotic Art Show is making a bold move to Sparkling Hill Resort. The resort is owned by Gernot Langes Swarovski, patriarch of the Swarovski crystal dynasty, and the Austrian-inspired hideaway is a glitzy stunner of a venue, perched over Okanagan Lake with a view so spectacular it would take any other show a considerable amount of effort to turn a visitor’s gaze.
“Last year at the opening, I was approached by Hans-Peter Mayr, the CEO of Sparkling Hill, and he said he was interested in holding the show at Sparkling Hill,” said Trops. “It was actually good timing because Jeff and Decoa (Harder, of Ex Nihilo Vineyards) had just told me they couldn’t hold the event anymore as they were moving into more weddings. So I thought, well, that’s perfect; it’s been three years and it’s time for a change.”
There’s no denying the Erotic Art Show has never had a problem turning heads and organizer Julia Trops has done an admirable job of building it from a small collection of sketches and paintings to the pièce de résistance of Okanagan art events it is today.
Change is definitely on the menu for this show, however.
For the first time, the event will go beyond the visual arts scope to include performances from guitar player Alan Rinehart; seductive dancing by Vernon City Dance; a comedic soliloquy by Theatre 86’s Jessika LaFramboise; and a show from Kelowna’s innovative multidisciplinary trio Musartiqa, composed of visual artist Angela Bonten, Ballet Kelowna alumni Angel Jutzi and musician Tony Koenen.
“I am excited. I feel like when you are up against a great challenge and you want to make sure you exceed the bar,” said Trops.
Bolstered by this new partnership, but championed by Rotary Arts Centre executive director Tracy Ward to whom this year’s efforts are dedicated, the show has always found a way to exceed expectations, revelling in the kind of art of the body often deemed too controversial in the Okanagan.
While the Livessence art group, which focuses on drawing nude and minimally clad models, has had its work criticized, and even shunned from time to time, and a smattering of artists who work with the naked body have faced a backlash, the show has become a pillar of the Okanagan arts community.
Artist like Sim-Hermsen often return, show after show, describing the event as a fun, relaxed affair.
“The artists are all really supportive of one another and it’s just a celebration,” said Sim-Hermsen.
Once a high school art teacher, her students have gone on to work as cinematographers and artists all over the world, and Sim-Hermsen loves to collaborate with them, and almost everyone else in the arts community, whenever possible.
From community mural projects, to providing videos for local bands and advertising clips for the Okanagan Science Centre her family helped create, the breadth of her creative prowess is astounding.
Thus, when French dancer Amanda Lynn Wooden-Papilhau, originally from Enderby, approached her with a request to photograph her dancing naked around her mother’s fire pit, she was all ears.
“We went with a moth to the flame theme and I spent a full day doing her body paint and applying the gold leaf ,” said Sim-Hermsen.
As dusk rolled in, they moved out to the fire and Wooden-Papilhau began to dance, improvising a selection of moves that have proved the perfect fit for the looped video project Sim-Hermsen added to her still photographs to give a more complete package at this show.
Ordinarily more of a painter, Sim-Hermsen has a stack of children’s books to her name and is gearing up for a large show of her own, having spent seven years researching and creating her own set of tarot cards.
She is also recovering from illness—she spent 20 years suffering from Lyme disease, an ailment many in the health community would not recognize until very recently—and uses her art and dance as therapy.
“I paint what I want to see reflected back to me,” she said. “My paintings are colourful and full of life.”
She comes by this cheerful attitude quite honestly. She was a cheerleader for the B.C. Lions football team in high school and has always preferred to champion others’ work and partner with talented souls, rather than focus on herself.
For a taste of that colourful spirit, one can check out her work at roxiartwork.com.
The Erotic Art Show runs July 5 to Aug. 2 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at Sparkling Hill Resort, 888 Sparkling Way, Vernon. The opening night party will be held July 5, dress is masquerade style with costumes encouraged.
Funds raised through general admissions will go to the Central Okanagan Hospice Association in honour of Ward, who passed away last year. Tickets are $31.20 and can be obtained online.