Visitors to the new exhibition at the Kelowna Art Gallery this fall may find themselves pondering an age-old question: Does size matter?
For our Drawing from Life show, eight local artists were invited to think big in coming up with new works in the medium of drawing. They did not disappoint. Two of the works are 12 feet high and another one is 19 feet long. One artist covered a corner of the room, working directly on the walls, which are 14 feet high. So visitors may come away thinking about size and wondering what it is about large scale that is so tricky, and yet so powerful.
Of course a tiny work can pack a terrific punch, but there is something exciting and liberating about working really large, and viewers of the work can pick up on this energy, as the artists use their whole arms to make marks and shapes, not just their fingers and wrists.
Most of the eight artists are well established in the Kelowna community and are familiar to regular gallery goers, but there are some who may be new surprises as well. Sage Sidley just graduated with a BFA from the UBCO in the spring, but already has a distinctive approach and method to her work with portraiture in specific spaces. And Amy Modahl is an artist living in Salmon Arm who received her MFA from UBCO in 2013. She is the artist who chose to create architectural forms in charcoal and paint directly on the gallery walls.
There is much to enjoy and admire in the eight artists’ drawings along with their impressive scale. Winfield-based David Alexander is represented by both large and small works on paper done in 2012 during a residency in Taos, New Mexico. The landforms and masses of clouds look very foreign and strange to Okanagan eyes, and he utilizes a narrow, vertical format in his large multi-sheet drawings that emphasizes the great height to which the cloud forms rise in the sky there.
Rose Braun has drawn a massive train engine on sheets of metal using oil stick, and Jane Everett has a panorama on vellum of a pack of coyotes on the hunt. Lake Country’s Wanda Lock enlarged and then defaced/inserted information onto Harlequin romance book covers. Gary Pearson created a gigantic work on paper with ink of the trees and rocks on Knox Mountain. And Penticton’s Johann Wessels, familiar to Kelowna residents from his outdoor temporary Fossils from the Future project last year, mines the possibilities of a variety of subjects, using good old graphite on paper, albeit at large scale.
Ultimately, the show comes together cohesively, even though the pieces are wildly different in approach, theme, and materials. There is a great synergy of energy and the whole is more than just a sum of its parts.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full-length catalogue that includes installation images and reproductions of all the works, as well as full-page photographic portraits of each artist at work, taken by our resident graphic designer, Kyle L. Poirier.
Drawing from Life runs at the Kelowna Art Gallery until Jan. 22.