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Unlikely duo preparing for Penticton art gallery show

Tyler Witzel and Wryly Andherson chat about a couple of the puppets Andherson created from found materials while attending the Island Mountain Arts program in Wells last year. - Steve Kidd/Western News
Tyler Witzel and Wryly Andherson chat about a couple of the puppets Andherson created from found materials while attending the Island Mountain Arts program in Wells last year.
— image credit: Steve Kidd/Western News

For Tyler Witzel, it won’t be the first time he has shown at the Penticton Art Gallery, though it has been about 15 years since that first piece was hung as part of a high school exhibition.

“I think it was on that wall over there,” he said, pointing to a corner of the gallery’s Project Room, which he is now sharing with Wryly Andherson of Vancouver. Though it’s been a while since he was back, this is a return home for Witzel, who graduated from Penticton Secondary in 2001, but now makes his home in Victoria.

Both Witzel and Andherson are alumni of the Island Mountain Arts program, which partners with PAG. Each year, the gallery shows the work of one of the artists, but this year the mentors, Mimi Pond and Wayne White, recommended two artists for the annual show.

The styles of the two artists vary greatly:  Andherson focuses on puppetry, while Witzel focuses on a graphic style of comic drawing, yet there are some similarities to their work, which both evoke a sense of the fantastic, combined with sometimes dark, introspective undertones.

The two artists also had similar reactions to being involved in the Toni Onley Artists’ Project, which takes place annually in Wells, B.C. Both admitted the town itself was more than they expected.

“For me, it was practically life changing. I felt like I had washed the city off. It exceeded my expectations,” said Andherson. “I had gone with the intention of building puppets out of whatever I could find in the landscape, making a quick film, just making something fast from what was available. I felt like I took that away, that sense, knowing it didn’t have to be polished.

“I didn’t expect it to be so cool. The town was so rad. The people make it … it felt like there was so much potential with people doing cool things,” said Witzel, who added that the experience changed his outlook.

“I don’t feel ashamed about using pizza boxes as canvases anymore.  I feel I put restrictions on myself in the past, I feel freer now.”

Andherson and Witzel open their show tomorrow with an artists’ talk from 2 to 3 p.m. at the gallery.

 

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