In between two days of solid rain, Mother Nature saw fit to part the clouds and let the sunshine in Wednesday for the 25th annual Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts.
“We couldn’t have been happier that the weather co-operated with us, aside from a bit of wind, the evening was wonderful,” said Dauna Grant, executive director of the Vernon Public Art Gallery.
As a new twist on this year’s art auction and fundraiser, organizers decided to move the location into the heart of downtown Vernon.
“We were thrilled at the turnout and positive feedback we received from hosting the 25th anniversary of Midsummer’s Eve of the Arts at Cenotaph Park,” said Grant.
“It looks like it’s turned out really well,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert, an annual attendee of the event. “I think it’s great.”
This is my second year to the event, and after making the rookie mistake of wearing high heels last year to the beautiful, but uneven, gardens at the Caetani Cultural Centre, I made sure to wear more appropriate footwear this time around.
It turned out to be unnecessary. The flat and spacious Cenotaph Park with paved paths made it possible for guests to wear whatever they saw fit, which was one of the selling points according to Grant.
Another new feature of this year’s auction was the inclusion of “freestyle abstract painting.”
“That’s what I like to call it,” said artist Nikki Balfour as she stood in the corner of the park, painting a piece to be auctioned off that night.
“I’ll be painting until 8 p.m., so people will be bidding on it while I’m still painting,” she said as she kept on painting.
With her musician husband James singing beside her, the pair attracted a crowd of onlookers as they worked away, the two very different arts complementing each other quite nicely.
“It’s completely driven by the music,” said Balfour of her art.
“It’s like dancing with a paintbrush. I just love his music.”
Although raised in Vernon, Balfour is currently a resident of Lake Country, and most often performs her “freestyle painting” at events in Kelowna.
“I love being part of different events, especially this one because it’s the first time I’ve done this in the city I grew up in.”
She kept on painting as Peter Davison, emcee for the evening, tried to corral everyone into the main tent for the live auction. Armstrong auctioneers Peter Raffan and Rod Burnett from Valley Auction were back in action this year.
“This is my third year doing (Midsummer’s Eve). It’s just a really fun event,” said Burnett, winner of the 2011 International Livestock Auctioneer competition at the Calgary Stampede.
“We’re really proud of him,” said fellow auctioneer Raffan, adding that only six Canadians have won the honour in the past 22 years. Raffan and his brother Don are also among the six.
“It’s a pretty good little auction house for that to happen,” said Burnett.
The main tent came alive as 60 items, including dozens of original works of art, a variety of gift certificates and other packages, and Balfour’s freshly painted piece, were auctioned off.
A dropped set of Lexus keys and the car they belong to were almost added to the list as Raffan joked that if the owner didn’t claim them they would be considered a generous donation.
All the funds raised at the event will go to support the Vernon Public Art Gallery, which according to Davison, may also be changing location.
“We are hoping to have a new art gallery in the downtown core before too long.”