British Columbia·Photos

Amid COVID-19, an Okanagan art festival doesn't go online, it pulls up a chair

Forty-five artists commissioned by ArtWalk painted uplifting images on comfy wooden chairs for the public to enjoy amid the pandemic.

Lake Country Artwalk launches a new project to install Art Chairs in 13 communities

Danielle Harshenin's chair is featured in Lake Country, the Central Okanagan host municipality of the ArtWalk festival which was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. (Danielle Hershinin)

When the 27-year-old Lake Country ArtWalk in B.C.'s Central Okanagan had to be cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers decided to offer a seat to art lovers throughout the region. 

In the coming weeks, 45 ArtWalk Art Chairs — Muskoka chairs painted with colourful images that range from nature scenes to wild animals — are being installed in 13 municipalities along the Okanagan Valley.

Each city receives three chairs that are clustered together in the same neighbourhood, except for Salmon Arm, Lake Country and Kelowna, which are allocated extra chairs because some other Okanagan municipalities aren't able to join the project.

Forty-five local artists participating in previous ArtWalk festivals were commissioned to create designs on the chairs that will be available to all comers over the next two years — set two metres apart to ensure physical distancing, of course.

Sculptor Bruce Taiji's chair, printed with his statement, "It is never too late to be what you might have been," will be exhibited in Lake Country. (Sharon McCoubrey)

"The fun of it [the Art Chairs project] will be to come across these works of art in your community, where you can enjoy them as works of art and also sit back and enjoy the space as well," said Sharon McCoubrey, chairperson of the Lake Country ArtWalk's planning committee.

Each chair comes with a statement from its artist which McCoubrey believes the public will appreciate. 

"In a time that's a little bit different and a little bit challenging for some people, to have an uplifting, thoughtful statement might be an additional plus as they experience the chair," she said.

Painter Alex Fong's Art Chair will be exhibited in Peachland with the message: "Love is the answer." (Sharon McCoubrey)

Organizers encourages people to take a selfie with an Art Chair and post it on social media with hashtags — #ArtWalkArtChairs or #LCartwalk — when they travel through the 13 Okanagan Valley municipalities.

Painter Anita McComas wrote "Art is a line around your thoughts" on her chair to be exhibited in Kelowna. (Sharon McCoubrey)

Zoom into the map below and click on the icons to view where the 45 Art Chairs are located and images of the artworks. The map doesn't reflect the exact locations of the chairs. Visit the website of Lake Country ArtWalk for updates. 

With files from Daybreak South


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