Vaelei Walkden-Brown.

Powerful themes at the Penticton Art Gallery

A very busy time for the Penticton Arts Council members

It has been a very busy time with the Penticton Arts Council plans for the inaugural Arts Rising Festival.

The board, staff and volunteers have been working hard at creating a diverse and inclusive program that is gaining support and momentum day by day.

Board member Petra Holler is the chair for the ReImagine Committee of Arts Rising. You may remember the ReImagine Festival a few years back created by the Downtown Penticton Association to address issues of tagging.

Petra was accepted at the most recent Toni Onley Artists’ Project for Professional & Emerging Artists at Island Mountain Arts in Wells. While there she connected with artist and performer Charlie Walker (A Raven Called Crow) who was being mentored by renown Member of the Native Group of Seven artist, Joseph Sanchez.

By invitation from Paul Crawford, curator of the Penticton Art Gallery, Mr. Sanchez came to Penticton to speak about his work currently on display at the PAG’s Anamnesis exhibition. Travelling with him to Penticton was Charlie Walker.

Charlie had already applied to participate in Arts Rising as a ReImagine muralist and asked if she could do her piece while in town over the last week. Petra and the festival committee agreed immediately and a profound and meaningful collaboration was born between mentor and student.

While I was not able to connect with Mr. Sanchez directly I had the opportunity to chat with Charlie about their collaboration. I was going to compile our conversation for this article but Charlie gave me permission to use her own writing about the piece which I think much better explains the import and beauty of what these two artists have co-created.

“The current show at the gallery is called ‘Anamnesis.’ It is a dialogue about Residential Schools. Our mural was intended to bring a soothing, healing offering to compliment the show.

The mural is all about healing. Any time we go into a deep healing process, I believe we must take the time to replenish ourselves with the goodness, the joy and the beautiful aspects of life.

I believe the people of Canada have the ability to truly transform the insidious trauma that was created by the Indian Act and the residential school system.

That trauma, I believe, must be truly and deeply acknowledged and grieved and repaired as a collaborative effort of all Canadians for the collective peoples of this nation to truly prosper, in the truest sense of the word. I believe non indigenous communities must educate themselves of the truth, beyond the filtered information of government institutions, and must speak out more and more about this urgent need for healing. It must not always fall on the backs of the ones who were most hurt to have to educate, instigate and promote healing and reconciliation.”

These are a few details/images from the 40-foot collaboration mural Work in progress at Penticton art gallery by Joseph Sanchez (of the Native Group of 7) and Charlie Walker (A Raven Called Crow). The piece is now completed and ready to view outside the Penticton Art Gallery. If you have not yet experienced the Anamnesis exhibition, I highly recommend you do so. The Penticton Art Gallery continues to bring the most powerful and current themes to our attention through such well considered and timely exhibitions. This exhibition will open your heart to some very strong truths. The beautiful mural outside will help your heart to find hope in response to these truths.

For more information on Arts Rising Festival and the 2017 ReImagine project please visit

Vaelei Walkden-Brown is the executive director of the Penticton and District Community Arts Council.