Art gallery calls for steamy submissions

The Penticton Art Gallery is looking for works that reflect the legacy of steam in the Okanagan.

The Penticton Art Gallery is looking for artists interested in submitting pieces for two upcoming exhibits revolving around the role of steam in Penticton’s history.

One of the exhibits will involve the “Steampunk” aesthetic and the other, entitled Steamrolled, will focus on the role steam-powered technology played in the history of the region, coinciding with Steamfest, a project spearheaded by the Penticton Museum and Archives in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Kettle Valley Railway.

“It’ll be looking at the cultural legacy left behind by the railway, not only here in Penticton, but in general as we colonized North America,” Paul Crawford, curator of the Penticton Art Gallery, said.

Crawford already has a few artists expressing interest including Penticton’s Johann Wessels and Glenn Clark.

“I’m hoping we’ll have a lot more by the time the call for artist ends and the show begins,” Crawford said. “I’ve sent out calls for submissions across Canada.”

The 20-year construction of the KVR no doubt shaped the economic and cultural history of the area, but Crawford is open to any perspective on the legacy the railway left behind.

“It can be a positive or negative thing, but there’s certainly implications that it did leave a legacy,” Crawford said.

He hopes to get some interest from First Nations artists as well.

“The railway is really a predominately white history and I’d love to have a critical sort of engagement of both sides of that and the implications of the huge land grabs and the land titles these corporations were given to get the railway across,” Crawford said.

The art doesn’t have to directly relate to the railway, and Crawford hopes submissions will explore the different perspectives on the 100-year history, including struggles of race and social stature.

“At the time the KVR was built they wouldn’t hire any Chinese workers because at that time in Canadian history we were living in a rather racially-charged environment,” Crawford said.

Crawford said he’s open to all sides of the argument and added that the history of the KVR and the lasting effects of the railway extend into the present.

“Now that the KVR is being torn up, you have all these land claim issues about whether this land reverts back to the First Nations band. They’re still fighting over the legacy it has left,” Crawford said.

The deadline for expressions of interest and an artist statement is Feb. 27, and the work will be due at the gallery March 15. The opening reception is on March 20, with an artists round table on March 21. The work will be displayed through to May 10.

For more information phone Paul Crawford at 250-493-2928 or email


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