Kelowna Art Gallery Submission 2022

The Okanagan valley exists within the traditional and unceded territory of the Okanagan Syilx people.
I recognize, honour and respect the presence of Indigenous people, past, present and future.

The Kelowna Art Gallery has a 2022 exhibition titled “Reflections: Responding to the Collection.” Members were invited to look through the Gallery’s Permanent Collection and choose one or several works of art as inspiration for their submission to the annual Members Exhibition.

This seemed very exciting and fun to me. Having never attempted an actual landscape before or publicly displayed any of my work, I went through the submission process. After a couple of false steps and corrections, my submission was accepted!

I chose “Okanagan valley (near Kelowna),” a watercolor painting on 9 x 91/2 inch paper created in 1947 by John Snow. The Catalog number is 2005-01.05. Here it is.

Okanagan Valley - John Snow - Original (near Kelowna)

I stared at and thought about the above image a LOT over several days. I love how John captured the essence of the Okanagan experience, that nature is paramount. His 1947 perspective is fantastically pure and innocent. The majesty of the rain, the golden bounty of the hay harvest, and the complete lack of buildings and other civilization are wonderful and poignant at the same time when we think about the context of 2022. The glowing hay field is cleared, and the rain promises more to come. The vineyard is verdant and growing.

Here is my effort “Okanagan Valley (near Kelowna) 2022”.

Okanagan Valley (near Kelowna) 2022 by Peter R.T. James

Time and Space

The original painting by John Snow was done in 1947, and a lot has changed in the Kelowna region since then. In 2022, there are multiple growing communities around the lake, and the city has many construction cranes. The only signs of construction in the John Snow original are some fenceposts, the rows of vines, and the hay wagon. Here are elements from similar center far left areas of both pictures to compare.

By 2022 the hayfield is gone, the vineyard is going strong, and buildings are throughout the scene. A prominent pile of boulders, like a monument to the past, represents the tension between the Agricultural Land Reserve and the relentless pressure of developers.

The constant theme from 1947 through 2022 is the regeneration cycle between the sky and the land.

Deconstruction Of The Vineyard

Many fantastic artists have already created wonderful paintings of Okanagan vineyards, so I needed to step back and think about how to interpret this unique vision. I see the deconstruction of the vineyard as we have seen done to food on cooking shows by breaking apart the color elements from the original and serving them fresh as organic color splashes.

Spirit Rising In The City

Here is a detail from the far right center of the image. It is one of the spirits of the growing city and an acknowledgment that Kelowna has, over time, developed a bit of a reputation as a party spot, and so this particular spirit is sort of an upright, smoldering marijuana joint infused with a spirit of Cool. There is also a hint of laughing faces emanating from the rising spirit in the direction of the lake.

There are many other small details to be found, such as fire and water in the center far left area of the distant field, a nod to the constant threat of fire that we deal with throughout the Okanagan valley and our forests. This fire is safe because of all the water next to it, the open field, and its shape is symmetrical, indicating a planned burn.

The Valley Gives Birth

The rain is being released by the clouds and also ascending from the boulders (like a courtyard fountain). While thinking about the reproductive cycles of both nature and humans, I also reflected on the far-reaching positive generational impact my doula sister Holly has had on children and mothers regarding childbirth and rearing.

John’s image, and mine, for me, are about fertility and reproductive renewal and the nurturing that Mother Nature provides us all. His image also made me reflect on our years in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the reality of water scarcity there. I am so appreciative and grateful to be surrounded, at this moment, by so much living natural beauty here in the Okanagan valley.

The Raven

Clip of PRTJ Crow detail

This Raven is particularly meaningful to me (flying west, embodying my point of view, witness to the miracle of life springing from the water and the valley, and stirring pleasant thoughts of loved ones). I am pleased with how it turned out, with just a little light to highlight the image.

Acknowledgments

There would be no new image without John Snow and his original efforts. He has several more pieces in the Permanent Collection, and it was very inspirational to be able to look at them for an extended period. It is great how he caught the sense of Kelowna 1947 in his images. We can still find these scenes around the valley, but now there is so much more development, people, noise, vehicles…

Also, thank you to Victoria, Christine, and Elaine at the Kelowna Art Gallery for their excellent input and friendly guidance through the submission process. It was very helpful!

Special thanks to Yuri Akuney of Digital Perfections, who patiently answered my beginner’s questions and coached me through print profiles, PPI vs. DPI, print media choices, and so much more.