Anyone driving along Highway 97 north of Vernon on the way to Kamloops this past year likely saw the blazing billboard.
Created by Caetani Centre artist-in-residence Liz Toohey-Wiese, the billboard featured a painting of a wildfire with the words “Come Back Soon!” emblazoned on the top.
The billboard was part of Toohey-Wiese’s exploration on the topic of wildfires and their connection to tourism, economy, grief and renewal.
Toohey-Wiese is back in Vernon and is opening her Caetani Centre studio for the public to see her latest wildfire-inspired collection. Her studio will be filled with paintings and sculptures based on a site visit last year to the Mount Christie fire outside Penticton.
Based in Vancouver, Toohey-Wiese has visited the Okanagan the past two summers to investigate the fire-adapted landscape through her art practice.
“My interest in wildfires came after the summers of 2017 and 2018 when Vancouver had wildfire smoke drifting into the city for weeks on end,” Toohey-Wiese said. “I’ve always been a landscape painter, but wildfires started to take up a lot of space in my mind when I was making paintings of places in B.C.”
Last summer, while at the Caetani Centre, Toohey-Wiese self-published the book Fire Season on the topic of wildfires. The book is a form of collective sense-making of the increased severity and frequency of wildfire through a collection of art, poetry, and essays created by over 40 contributors.
Toohey-Wiese opens her studio at the Caetani Centre, located at 3401 Pleasant Valley Rd., Friday, June 25, from 6 to 9 p.m. COVID protocols will be in place. For more information visit caetani.org or call 250-275-1525.