Lake Country Art Gallery

The idea of bringing in professional artists to an art gallery to teach workshops is great, but what if you don’t have the space to do it? And what if you’re a senior or student on a limited budget and can’t afford to attend?

Thanks to a grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation, the Lake Country Art Gallery has found a way to fix those issues. Petrina McNeill, manager of the Lake Country Art Gallery said she’s grateful for the funding the gallery received from the Central Okanagan Foundation for their Community Engagement program at their newly acquired Art House.

When the building next door to the gallery became available, it offered the perfect solution for the little gallery that was beginning to burst at its seams. “It was such a fantastic opportunity,” said McNeill.

The Art House not only offers a great space for workshops but houses a gift shop, several artist studios and a used book store solely for art books. There’s also a small pop-up gallery space for more spontaneous exhibitions.

With close to 150 members, the Lake Country Art Gallery has attracted artist and art lovers from Salmon Arm to Penticton. Curator, Katie Brennan, noted that part of the attraction to become a member is the opportunity to participate in four of the eight shows the gallery holds annually as well as their monthly outdoor summer bazaars.

“We have such a strong arts community here in Lake Country,” said Brennan, “I know the first few years I was here I was agog at how supportive our community is and volunteers always seem to pop up when we need them.”

With the funding in place from Central Okanagan Foundation, Brennan said they’ve been able to raise the bar in what classes they can offer. “We put out a call to artists, looking for workshops that aren’t being offered in other places,” which makes each of their four signature workshops offered each year unique. The funding also subsidizes spots for those who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend.

“Basically, Central Okanagan Foundation helps us to extend and support all the activities that keep growing in what we’re doing,” said McNeill.

Brennan curates four shows per year that feature both local artists and those from farther a field. “I like to do that so I can showcase the fact that the art being created here can compete with art from anywhere,” she said.

The four community shows they offer annually include the Under $100 show (“always our most popular and the biggest show to hang,” noted Brennan), their current exhibition which is their members show, the annual Art Walk theme show and their multigenerational show, which will be coming to the gallery in May.

“That used to be the annual student showcase but we decided to change it,” said Brennan.

While she believes there is value in exhibiting students’ art, she said, “We think this offers a much more interesting opportunity. Parents and kids can work together, or kids and their grandparents; grade fours with grade sevens, high school kids with university kids – the idea is that it brings together different generations.”

Last year, one of the pieces involved the collaboration of a mother, her son and her grandchild. “We had another piece with about eight people working on it, including aunts and uncles,” recalled McNeill.

“What’s exciting about it is, not only are they creating the work but they have to write about the experience as well and some of the things that have come out of that are really fascinating,” said McNeill.

Generations also have an opportunity every Saturday afternoon to come take part in the open workshops at the gallery. Admission is charged by the number of participating children involved and is reduced for members – another good incentive to pick up a membership.

“The gallery is such a great place to make connections and for new people in the area, volunteering is a great way to meet people,” said McNeill.

For more information on the Lake Country Art Gallery visit their website at lakecountryartgallery.ca.