Headbones spotlights Okanagan art and culture

David Wilson shows his latest painting, Father, Son and Sister Moon – Old Sacred Knowledge, along with other work at Headbones Gallery, opening Thursday, June 27. Vanessa Mitchell, right, models a coat made by Molakira’z Dezignz’ Mollie Bono and Akira Hanson. - photo submitted
David Wilson shows his latest painting, Father, Son and Sister Moon – Old Sacred Knowledge, along with other work at Headbones Gallery, opening Thursday, June 27. Vanessa Mitchell, right, models a coat made by Molakira’z Dezignz’ Mollie Bono and Akira Hanson.
— image credit: photo submitted

Headbones Gallery is presenting the work of local indigenous artist David Wilson as well as wearable art by Mollie Bono and Akira Hanson of Molakira’z Dezignz in its summer exhibition, opening Thursday.

Wilson, who is showing his paintings, is a member of the Okanagan Nation and the winner of the B.C. Achievement Awards in Aboriginal Art for 2012.

Wilson’s work was featured at the Vernon Public Art Gallery this past year. His paintings also grace the Vernon Performing Arts Centre and the Kelowna Community Theatre.

Wilson’s work speaks of the identity and origins of the Okanagan. It articulates traditional motifs executed in brilliant acrylic paint, sometimes on drums.

Drawing from pictographs, stories and indigenous imagery influenced by the Maori, North West Coast or Egyptians, Wilson’s paintings can be seen as contemporary icons.

“His work reaches out,” said Headbones owner Julie Oakes. “It bridges gaps not only between cultures and backgrounds but also between generations, sociological hierarchies and the widening gaps created by technology.”

Using vibrant colours with a quick-read graphic style, Wilson’s work can be appreciated from many levels. The paintings are clear and enlivened so that they catch the eye of younger generations, yet also refresh the media-worn vision of the more mature.

“Fresh in concept and design and crisp, the combinations of geometric and organic shapes create an energy that makes the paintings dance,” said Oakes. “Each piece is a celebration of life, a return to belief,”

Wilson began his interest in art from the age of 12 when he first discovered Salish pictographs. He read the seminal publication Pictographs (Indian Rock Paintings) in The Interior of British Columbia, written by John Corner in 1968, and it brought to light an area of visual knowledge that many in the Okanagan have yet to explore.

Wilson first studied art under Coastal Salish and Haida artists while attending business college.

“Currently, Wilson riffs on the imagery from these ancient roots, transforming the wisdom of an earlier time into a brightened version,” said Oakes. “By reinventing the narratives, the stories gain in relevance. Because he has an impeccable sense of balance and composition, the resulting pictures reverberate with tones from our modern existence.”

Wilson’s work also connects to the spirits of the animals, the elements and seasons.

“Man’s place in the cosmos is once again in conversation with the natural world. And if the round format happens to be on a drum  —made of deer or elk hide and able to be played — then the music made from a simpatico between man and nature can also be sounded,” he says.

To celebrate the summer solstice, Headbones will host A Procession of Colours, a performance created by Molakira’z Dezignz, at the Thursday opening for Wilson’s show.

The wearable art by Okanagan Nation member Bono and Metis artist Hanson draws on the tradition of their ancestors who used all parts of the deer and other game.

The garments are made of natural fabrics such as wool, with finishing touches of bones, beads and leather.

This will be a return to Headbones for Molakira’z Dezignz, who in 2002 was featured in a fashion show at the gallery’s former downtown location.

“As the lights went down in the old main-street location of Headbones Gallery, the models, resplendent in the colourful cloaks made by Molakira’z Dezignz, saluted the eight directions,” said Oakes.

For their upcoming show, Molakira’z new designs will be paraded at Headbones’ Skulpture Yard, featuring works by Doug Alcock, Angelika Jaeger and David Montpetit.

“It will be a procession of art within a context of art,” said Oakes.

Bono will provide commentary during the fashion show, while The Earth Sisters, led by Robin Redhawk with Carolyn Anele, Wendy Chambers, Judy Wessel and Akira Hanson, will sing and drum.

Thursday’s opening reception for Wilson runs from 7 to 9 p.m., while the fashion show starts at 8 p.m. Headbones Gallery is located at 6700 Old Kamloops Rd.


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