Art gallery goes steampunk

Steam is the theme as the Penticton Art Gallery kicks off Steamfest on March 21.

Participating artists in the upcoming Steamfest show at the Penticton Art Gallery include (from left to right) Bethany Handfield

Participating artists in the upcoming Steamfest show at the Penticton Art Gallery include (from left to right) Bethany Handfield

Things are going to get steamy at the Penticton Art Gallery.

Kicking off a month of steam-based works entitled Steamfest,  in partnership with the Penticton Museum and Archives, the SS Sicamous and the Kettle Valley Railway Society, the art gallery will explore the significance of steam in Penticton’s history marking the 100th anniversary of the launching of the Sicamous and the arrival of the railway in Penticton.

The gallery will be hosting an opening reception/dance party to kick things off on March 21.

The all-ages event will feature music from Robson Valley’s Samson’s Delilah, Vancouver’s Jack Garton and the Demon Squadron and Grammy and Juno-nominated DJ Adam Shaikh as well as food provided by Ishin, Lachi and the Wild Scallion.

An exhibit exploring steampunk will be on display until May 10.

Steampunk is a speculative fiction take on Victorian-style attire and technology. The aesthetic incorporates fictional steam-powered airships and mechanical devices encompassing the Victorian-era view of the future.

Those attending are encouraged to don their best steampunk attire.

“The fashion is such a major component of that culture. We kind of had to do the dance party thing to capture the whole essence of steampunk,” said Paul Crawford, curator of the Penticton Art Gallery.

The exhibit features a full spectrum of artists, from professionals to newcomers as well as local artists including mixed-media artist Bethany Handfield.

The works range from steampunk-inspired paintings to fully-realized pieces of steampunk technology.

“In total there are probably about 60-plus artists that have works in the show,” Crawford said.

About half of the exhibit will be on display Friday as some of it will be moved to make room for the dance party. However, the public is invited to talk with the artists of the Steampunk exhibit on March 28, when the works will be fully on display.

Also on display will be pieces commemorating the KVR’s anniversary as well as a critical look at the building of the railway, entitled Steamrolled.

“It’s great to celebrate the arrival of the KVR, but  really it’s a European history and I just wanted to at least put the opportunity out there to create a dialogue and look at the greater implications,” Crawford said.

Some of those implications are still occurring today with arguments over railway land rights taking place today.

The doors open for the dance party at 7 p.m. and the music begin at 8 p.m. Entry is by donations and all those who donate over $5 will receive a collectable Bob Masse Steamfest poster. Masse is Canada’s foremost rock poster artist and has produced iconic, psychedelic-style posters for legendary bands including The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors.

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