Sunday, December 19, 2010

Okanagan Artists Trading Cards

Had a great time talking about artist trading cards on Wednesday to the Vernon Hi-Noon Toastmasters. I had given this impromptu speech last month to the Monday Night Club and new I had enough material to talk about at length. I decided to change it up a bit because the Vernon Public Art Gallery has an artist trading card exhibition on right now, and the Hi-Noon club meets in the next building over at the Bean to Cup. I encouraged those thinking about making some art to consider trading cards because the cost is not prohibitive, and every artist is appreciated in this non-hierarchical community of artists.

View this Okanagan Artists website for more images.

My experience making artists trading cards for the Richmond Art Gallery exhibition was quite funny and resulted in my first set being published in the ATC Quarterly Magazine. Basically I was playing around with ink blot figures and out popped some conjoined twins. Many times when I begin to make a two-dimensional art piece I will play with shapes and materials, allowing the piece to reveal itself. View my artists trading cards. When I found the Richmond Art Gallery's call for submissions to the artists trading card show I only had four days to get them in.

I decided to just go with this theme because it was immediately fascinating and also because of the time restraint. Don't be afraid of making any art!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Skies and People Series I (Photo Essay) and Series II (3-Dimensional)

Polyon I, Digital Media Art, 2010,  in progress
Series I the Photo Essay is well under way, with a sample image here on the right. Polyon is the piece of plastic you see in this photo. He is a person trying to find his rightful place. The series is our adventure of getting there, along with several other characters we have encountered along the journey. You can view more beginnings of the photo essay Skies and People I here:

Series II has been bumping around in my head for months. A lot of prep work went down in October and November, mostly raw photography and some accumulation of garbage materials, and natural materials. Yesterday I finally had the right energy to attempt build the 3-Dimensional prototype for a person. I had collected dryish grass at the site where I realized for the first time that i had discovered a spirit that had joined into physical existence. Because it was not a balanced existence, the spirit was having a very difficult time coordinating itself. I had been studying these manifestations of static and dynamic existence since 2006 but did not understand what it was about. I sensed something real there, but it wasn't tangible, and since our society is preoccupied with mostly the tangible, I'm afraid it took me several years to get through the plastic of our lives. to be continued...

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Poems, Digital Art

I've been working on a digital art series titled DOMINANCE and PEOPLE. The works are grid-based with a bold flag-like motif of five dominant squares within the larger square format. These five dominant squares are the four corners and the centre. The work utilizes words related to dominant behaviour, which can be read several different ways since it is all grid-based.

Two pieces are posted on my artist website:

Naturally, the five dominant squares outnumber the four non-dominant squares. The non-dominant squares contain words and it is clear which dominant square the words came from. All the viewer needs is a single word and many dominant phrases can be construed. Dominant behaviour, akin to bullying (without getting into reasons or relationships), can occur as a continual grind, barrage, or onslaught. Dominant behaviour can be alternated with non-dominant behaviour and the overall themes of behaviour are processed by recipients in many different ways. Whether dominant behaviours are perceived or real they create a response in the recipient, for which the single word titles of these works reflect a loss or inability.

Poems have been extracted with several different versions. See my Writing Catalogue here:

River Lewis is an Okanagan artist working and living in Vernon BC Canada. As a contemporary Canadian artist, my themes are influenced by life in Canada within and without. Inter-personal perception, belonging, and value in all things drives my art-making practice.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wow That Speech Went Really Well.

I have to say all the discussion panelists at Monday Night Toastmasters were very well prepared, Cindy Masters, Karen Truesdale, myself, as well as the Discussion Panel Coordinator James Quigg. It was a great pleasure to present along side these excellent presenters and I feel the audience was positive and receptive to this 38 minute presentation of speeches and question and answer.

James Q opened by introducing the concept of his constructed discussion panel, which was to provide solutions to his question "How can we nurture a more vibrant community." Cindy Masters opened the discussion with her speech defining community and applying a mandate to be fully inclusive of all people in the community including those marginalized and disadvantaged.

I followed by explaining how contemporary art can be used to actively educate toward change.

To do this I felt it was first necessary to give a brief definition of art. I did this by breaking down the art-viewer experience into two parts: the things you see, such as color, shape and craftsmanship; and the things you don't see, including that art triggers emotion, symbolizes a bigger picture and creates benefits to a community. Contemporary art in Canada can facilitate the visibility of those marginalized. Visibility demands consideration and mutual respect.

Karen Truesdale anchored with her speech on the topic of creating a living wage for all citizens, that offers an ability to realistically provide for families and stop companies from passing the burden of subsistence onto the community when those companies employ for minimum wage.

The three speeches were followed by a question and answer period allowing audience members to seek additional clarification on the speakers' topics. The night was a truly educational experience for audience and panelists alike, in the context of a caring community.

I had coined a new word recently, 'glossiship', and grammarian Lacey Irwin challenged me to include it in my speech at the last minute, which I did! You can see my word and three definitions thereof here:

I find the word historically appropriate to our time and trends in contemporary society to produce large amounts of production line artwork quickly. See if you can use it sometime in a conversation!

Friday, November 26, 2010

BC Government Not Pulling Weight

Through my research for the panel discussion taking place this coming Monday @7PM, I've found some disturbing inverse proportions in culture funding in British Columbia. The Arts Research Monitor (public distribution supported by Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council) November 2010 issue shows that in British Columbia, municipal spending on culture is 2nd among all provinces. Notice that is MUNICIPAL SPENDING, those are our cities, towns, villages etc. who value culture, of which "the arts" makes up approximately 8%. Municipal spending on culture throughout BC averaged $79 per capita in 2007.

Now let's look at actual Provincial spending by the Province of BC: The Arts Research Monitor reports that among all Canadian provinces, BC spends the second least on culture. Interpreting this can be complicated, but clearly the Province of British Columbia does not have the same regard for the value of culture as do local participants and municipalities in arts and culture. The Government of British Columbia only spent $76 per capita on arts and culture in 2007. Compare this with the leading province, Manitoba, that was able to spend $144 per capita on arts and culture in the same year, and Alberta, that has no provincial sales tax, was still able to spend $93 per capita on arts and culture.

I feel the Government of British Columbia has the resources to spend on arts and culture, considering increased provincial sales taxes and gaming revenues. But the province chooses to let municipalities and local organizations bear the greater burden of fundraising for culture in general.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Discussion Panel @ Monday Night Vernon Toastmasters

Next Monday Night, at the Schubert Centre 7:30PM, the Monday Night Toastmasters will host a discussion panel of 3 speeches on the topic " Nurturing a More Vibrant Community". I'm happy to be part of this panel and will be giving a 5-7 minute speech as a contemporary Canadian artist. My speech will involve highlighting the benefits of the arts in our community, and point out areas where contemporary art can address certain challenges that face Canadian communities in general with regards to vibrancy and vitality.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back to Brush and Ink Indoors!

It is just to cold to go out there and make art, -17 today.
So indoors is where its at, brush and ink is a time-honored tradition on drawing. I really think Brush and Ink, Sumi-e, etc. is the missing link between painting and drawing. Not only can you create colorful works of art quickly, brush and ink drawing keeps you loose and fresh to go back to longer duration works. In the Okanagan, artists don't do enough brush and ink drawing although watercolours are very popular. But just like oils or traditional drawing watercolours can lack spontaneity which is exactly what expressive brush and ink drawing brings.

I'll be teaching Drawing with Brush and Ink at the Vernon Community Arts Centre in January, check it out, we'll have a lot of fun!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Okanagan Drawings at Kekuli Bay

had some fun early this morning creating three drawings looking across Kalamalka Lake from Kekuli Bay area. The first snow was looking calm and peaceful on the other side of the lake. A light sprinkling of snow allowed many features of the hills to be highlighted and one gets a better sense of the topography that way. You can see some of my drawings at

In general I usually pay attention to the two-dimensional format of the paper and choose to record features and patterns of the scene over the perspective. Viewers sometimes wonder about this style of drawing, and I show them more realistic drawings occassionally. I'm not currently interested in realism. Realistic drawing is the creation of an illusion on paper. My interest lies in the spirit of the scene.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Working on some small oils.

There seem to be a lot of small art group shows going on these days, e.g.
  • Federation of Canadian Artists on Granville Island showing 'Small, Smaller, and Smallest'
  • Vernon Community Arts Centre's Artsolutely Fair goin on this month
  • Penticton Art Gallery's Under $300 show
seems like it could be fun and easy to get out there and meet people this way. So I started a series of 8x10 oils a few days ago, some Okanagan scenes and pulled out some travel photos too. Maybe you'll see me pull these out next year at Artwalk in Lake Country BC or other places. Will post pics when available. For now you can see some of my Okanagan artwork, and also some older art pieces from Vancouver on my website: