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Art exhibit to launch at Penticton funeral home

Artist dedicates Seeds of Hope exhibit to mom who passed away June 2022
Tumbleweed Gallery is partnering with Kevin Smith, owner of Kettle Valley Memorial, mounting an exhibition ‘Seeds of Hope’ of paintings by Kelowna artist Jolene Mackie at his funeral home starting Jan. 31. (Art by Jolene Mackie)

For years Tumbleweed Gallery has been known for displaying art in spaces other than at the gallery itself. In Penticton they show art at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, Hillside Winery and Bistro, Blenz and The Bench Market to name a few.

This time, Tumbleweed is partnering with Kevin Smith, owner of Kettle Valley Memorial, and will be mounting an exhibition of paintings by Kelowna artist Jolene Mackie at his funeral home.

But why show art at a funeral home?

“It is our hope that by presenting this art exhibit, we will help make death less of a taboo and that we might also bring more awareness to how we live,” said Prema Harris, of Tumbleweed Gallery.

From Jan. 31 through March 28, Kettle Valley Memorial will present Seeds of Hope. This is the first solo exhibition of Mackie’s work since the COVID shutdown. It is especially meaningful to her and is dedicated to her mother who passed away in June 2022.

Her work is exhibited widely throughout the Okanagan Valley and B.C.

Aside from paintings on the usual canvas or board, Mackie’s murals can be seen on the walls of the administration offices at Naramata Centre, at the Vernon City parkade, on the ceiling of the Kelowna CMHA and at the BC Children’s Hospital Teck Acute Care Centre in Vancouver.

What drew Mackie to the arts was the freedom it gave her to ponder her existence.

“My paintings have become a vessel for my feelings and how I process and understand the world. My creative practice is deeply rooted in my mortality…I am this being, this lump of flesh that has consciousness! And yet this body is so temporary. Everything is so ephemeral.”

The central figure often found in Mackie’s paintings is a backpack-toting robot bearing a heart on his bib. She admits this is her alter ego - this “curious little investigator… has somewhere to take me; he’s got something to show me.”

It was one such painting that Smith, owner of Kettle Valley Memorial purchased from Tumbleweed Gallery a few years ago. He describes the piece entitled A Moment to Ponder as “very cool - there’s this robot, roaming around in the universe - sort of like what it must be after we pass on.”

The painting now hangs in the viewing room at Kettle Valley Memorial, where it gives solace to visitors grieving the loss of a loved one.

The public’s response to Mackie’s painting gave Smith the idea of inviting her to have an art show in his premises. “Perhaps there is a different thing that a funeral home can do or be in a community,” he said.

Preparing for this exhibition has been very helpful in shepherding Mackie through the sadness of her mother’s death. Each painting in this body of work is embellished with beads from her mother’s collection, some with less detail and density than others.

“This exhibit is a culmination of a lot of thoughts about life and death. If my work can lend someone a moment of joy, if it be can be a reminder that beautiful things can come from dark places, that for me will be the measure of success.”

In Penticton, more of Jolene Mackie’s paintings can be seen at the Tumbleweed Gallery, Blenz Coffee Shop and Honey Toast.

The public is invited to the opening reception at Kettle Valley Memorial, 461 Dawson Avenue, on Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 4 to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit

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