Wylie: Tunes that won’t fly under the radar

Departing passengers at the Kelowna International Airport may find themselves humming tunes about flying.

Wanda Lock

I wonder if anyone anywhere has conducted research on the phenomenon of getting a song stuck in one’s head. Why does it happen that when we overhear or call to mind a line from a song, we are soon listening to the whole thing in our heads, sometimes for an entire day?

Over and over we loop back to it, with no control!

Sometimes this feels enjoyable, other times terribly annoying.

Well, without being able to explain it then, this is likely going to happen to departing passengers and their well-wishers at the Kelowna International Airport for the next six months. Why? Because of the new art commission installed there by Lake Country-based artist Wanda Lock.

Lock has created a 36-foot-long mural for the Kelowna Art Gallery’s 40-foot-long art wall at YLW, all on the theme of flight. Along with images of flying machines, she has excerpted snippets of popular songs that involve leaving on jet planes, flying high, etc.

Wanda Lock is fond of literature and the power of words and has been using text in her visual art for many years now. Often these are single lines, or fragments of lines, sometimes more-or-less standing as captions, other times as thoughts or spoken words by the figures depicted in her scenes.

In this mural the lines from songs form a strong compositional component, along with her depictions of all sorts of celestial craft, for example, a flying saucer, an old bi-plane, a dirigible, a plane that looks like the Kitty Hawk, a whirly-gig, a jet plane, a hot air balloon and a Lear Jet.

All these elements are set on a background of various beautiful colours of blue.

Evidently Lock has considered the role of the people walking by her piece at the airport and hit on providing this fanciful meditation on the history of flying machines over the last 100 years or so, as well as bytes from some of the popular songs composed around flight. Because the art wall is located in the departures area, many of the songs from which Lock has quoted are about farewells (“Kiss me and smile for me”).

It is not only the subject of flight that Lock has considered, but also the experience of those people viewing her work. It would be fascinating to know how many of those people who walk by her piece on the way to security find themselves later singing one of the songs Lock has quoted from. Perhaps as their plane takes off and they look down to Kelowna and Okanagan Lake dropping beneath them, they will start humming a song that will stay stuck in their minds for hours (“…the one I love forever is untrue”).

Wanda Lock grew up in the Okanagan and studied art at Okanagan University College and then at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. She has been exhibiting professionally since 1993. Her work is represented in Canmore, Alberta by the Elevation Gallery.

Lock was the subject of a solo show at the Kelowna Art Gallery in 2008 and has also been included in two group shows since then at the KAG.

Flying Machines and Poems Sung by Strangers, will be at the KAG’s satellite space at the Kelowna International Airport until November 4, 2013.