Julie Michaud (foreground) and her partner

Julie Michaud (foreground) and her partner

Okanagan: Light up the night

Shining a light on the brilliant, creative minds of Kelowna with A Night of 1000 Lights

  • Sep. 19, 2014 3:00 p.m.

It’s A Night of a 1000 Lights.

You pick up a cup of tea, blended on site by Kelowna’s Gold Medal Plates celebrity chef, Michael Lyons, with tea from My Tea Blending Room, a scintillating blend-your-own-tea-online business, developed locally, and proceed down a “galley” of art.

The art is all lit from the bottom, producing a glowing tunnel of emotive colours and objects.

“The work is going to live within the light because it’s A Night of a 1000 Lights,” says Lori Mairs, a contemporary artist.

Mairs is part of the collective working on this creation and she’s giving an animated tour of the site, giggling and gesturing and generally offering up a taste of the energy needed to pull off such an undertaking.

At the end of the art galley will be an installation from Okanagan Fruit Tree Project, a 300 volunteer-strong gleaning initiative, currently salvaging food from backyard trees and farmers’ fields to distribute to those in need. Beside their display is a stage where a lineup of musicians will keep all three nights of this event rolling. Five big names will play; the lineup has yet to be revealed.

It’s important to know this is a community event, Mairs explains with a twinkle in her eye. “No nudity.”

Jumping in for the explanation, Julie Michaud says the organizers hope their project is something the entire neighbourhood will come out to see, children in tow.

Michaud and her partner, Stavros Angelatos, are the entrepreneurial brains behind A Night of 1000 Lights, a showcase of the creative, entrepreneurial and community-minded spirit of Kelowna. Technically, there are 3,453 lights involved.

“There’s a whole host of volunteers—people from the neighbourhood who have just appeared, put down gravel, pulled weeds,” Mairs says.

picHeld in a new live-work space for artists called Artisan House, the event is being held on Lawrence Avenue, across the street from Michaud and Angelatos’s home. Artisan House proved the light bulb for an idea born out of a desire to bring people together.

“Stavros and I were walking by and we were thinking, we wanted to do an event. We see light in Richard’s house and, Richard has this beautiful mansion, so we walked in and he actually starts to talk about putting together an event. This was the inception. The idea was born that very night,” Michaud explains.

Richard is Richard Kempe, the man who designed the Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s pyramid. He initially renovated his old house as a bed and breakfast, with an expansive veranda and gabled roof out front and multi-tiered deck with a Koi pond and waterwheel in the back. A change in life circumstances forced him to rethink the project, and he’s now converted the beautiful home to include six artist live-work spaces.

His own drafting table sits adjacent to a jeweler’s counter—Geppetto’s nook, as Mairs calls it. In this space, there will be an artist with a three-dimensional printer, printing images of light bulbs, and an ethereal cheesecloth sculpture, by Angelica Jaeger, will sit in a window beside.

“It will all be transformed through the eye of the artist,” says Michaud. “And all within the theme: Light.”

Out the back, Artistic Lighting Design will have their own space. The landscape lighting company stepped up to help when a shipment of lights did not show up and has been instrumental in transforming the entire yard. With artist and Lake Country Art Gallery curator Katie Brennan lending her hand, and her connections, to the vision, the final showcase should be extraordinary.

Spotted with installation art, like an eight-foot beeswax and paper dress, there will be films playing and hula hoop dancers entertaining. Mairs is contributing a 15-foot steel sculpture in the front yard and Brennan says she will add her own work.

Michaud and Angelatos have assembled the entire event out of pocket. Masters of networking, they built their team first and say they have had nothing but help from the rest of the community.

“It’s been so interesting, and so intense at the same time. We’re very, very happy we embarked on the journey, but it’s definitely a lot of work—and more than we planned for,” says Michaud.

For anyone involved in the arts, it probably sounds familiar.

Coast to coast, the federal government has organized an initiative called Culture Days to showcase the efforts of this sector, and those who work tirelessly to make the world a more interesting, beautiful, inspiring place.

A Night of a 1000 Lights is one of the events registered for Culture Days in Kelowna. It runs Sept. 25, 26 and 27 at 1009 Lawrence Ave. Exhibits will be revealed online, on Sept. 24 and participants are asked to RSVP. While the event is free, a suggested donation of $5 will be applied to covering costs.

Culture Days runs Sept. 26, 27 and 28, and events are posted to the Culture Days website. Plug in your postal code for events in West Kelowna and Kelowna. More information on the Westside events can also be found at westsideculturedays.com.

Events in Kelowna range from Chinese dance lessons to a country fair, the return of Nuit Blanche, an evening of arts and culture inspired by the Nuit Blanche events started in Paris, and New Vintage Theatre live street performances.

In West Kelowna, the new Sncǝwips Heritage Museum will offer basic language classes from Jordan Coble and photography of work from Marion Radawetz Skookum House Jewellery Designs. Volcanic Hills Winery will have Fiona Neal painting on site.

Check out the websites for more.

Pictured above: Kicking off Culture Days with A Night of 1000 Lights creators (left to right) Katie Brennan, curator and artist, Julie Michaud, entrepreneur, Veronika Angelatos, designer, artist and curator Lori Mairs, Artisan House owner Richard Kempe, and entrepreneur Stavros Angelatos. The group is pictured in front of a tree with 1000 lights on it at Artisan House on Lawrence Avenue.

Twitter: @jaswrites


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