The 8th Annual Oxygen Art Market will take place on
May 25, 26, 27, 2018
Friday 7-10pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am – 5pm
320 Vernon Street (back alley entrance) in Nelson
Every year, the Oxygen Art Market attracts hundreds of art-lovers to the Oxygen Art Centre and it’s no wonder! Over 40 established and emerging Kootenay artists submit their paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and other 2D work for this weekend-long event. The work is hung “Salon” style, in the manner of the Académie des Beaux–Arts exhibitions in Paris at the turn of the century, where work was hung on every available wall space from ceiling to floor. With over 150 pieces on display, the hanging is a major undertaking for the volunteer committee, and it makes for a striking event.
Oxygen Art Market is an opportunity to experience first-hand the breadth of work made by West Kootenay artists, and to get yourself a piece of original, locally-made art! With fifty percent of the sales given to the Oxygen Art Centre, the Art Market has become an important fundraiser for the Centre. Oxygen is governed by a collective of professional visual artists, filmmakers, theatre artists and writers. As one of Canada’s 100 or so artist-run centres, Oxygen shares the common mandate to provide an alternative forum for contemporary art, outside of commercial constraints and interests, while recognizing artists through the payment of professional fees. Oxygen Art Centre gratefully acknowledges the support for this event from Columbia Basin Trust and our Business for the Arts sponsors; Hall Printing, Nelson Star and Juice FM, and organizational support from BC Arts Council and Province of BC.
2018 Oxygen Art Market artists include:
Natasha Smith, Carol Wallace, Susan Andrews Grace, Brian Kalbfleisch, Deborah Thompson, Micheal Graham, Carol Reynolds, Lindsay Dew, Rachel Yoder, Sally Johnston, Boukje Elzinga, Stephanie Kellett, Kiera Zaslove, Heather Hutchinson, Nicole Hobbs, Deirdre McLaughlin, Jennifer Lount-Taylor, Selda Canoglu, Rick Foulger, Karen Guilbault, Mirja Vahala, Barbara Wallace, Mary-Ellen Marshall Michel Hervoche, Ian Johnston, Kelley Shpeley, Anita Levesque, Ron Robinson, Rick Foulger, Patrick McGoey, Tanya Pixie Johnson and Julie Breton
A Conversation with Artist Carol Wallace
As we anxiously await this years Oxygen Art Market, we are talking to some of the local artists that will be showcasing and selling some of their work. We sat down with artist and geologist Carol Wallace to talk about her art practice and her incredibly successful fusion of family life, geology, and painting.
How did you start painting?
I’ve really just been at this for about four years in a consistent way. I have dabbled in art since I was a teenager. For seven years I didn’t paint at all – when I had my two boys. And when I got back into painting I didn’t know what to paint. Before that, I painted landscapes. So I started looking at the drawings my kids were making and thought “wow, those are really creative.” I decided to turn them into paintings. I did a whole series of them. Most of them are online. It was really fun because it was such a departure from what I was doing before. I would buy them sketchbooks so their drawings would stay contained and I would just go through the book like
“oh, I like that guy, I’m gonna put him in.” It was really fun to create these epic battle scenes through my kid’s drawings. My life was all about kids so might as well use it.
Now, it’s more like I am working towards something. I feel like I have just started, really. I remember watching this documentary ‘Into the Inferno’ about volcanoes by Werner Herzog and there was this scene of this ash eruption in Indonesia and I thought “wow, I have to paint that” so I took a screenshot and the next day I brought the screenshot on my Ipad to my studio and painted it. I’m a geologist and I still love it. It’s not something I did that’s now gone. So it just dawned on me that that’s what my art needs to be about.
How has your work in geology informed your work as an artist?
I was working as a geologist in my early twenties and I was really struck by how insignificant we are. Both in the knowledge of geologic time and how much time has passed with respect to how much time we’ve been here, and working in these vast wilderness areas. I worked on Ellesmere Island and in the Yukon. It was just me and one other person. You just feel really, really small. So I felt that deeply and it stayed with me for a long time. I remember imagining what our time would look like in the rock record because, on Ellesmere Island, we were measuring stratigraphy. We slowly saw the fossils changing, and the rocks changing, which indicated cooler climates over millions of years. So I was just imagining, what would our time look like in the rock record? And I would joke about how it would be this really fluorescent green layer. And so that’s how I got started in painting that imagery. It was combined with just how insignificant we are and how, perhaps, we’re going to leave our mark in this really unusual way. I started that series two years ago called “The Green Layer.” One of them will be in the Oxygen Art Market. So that was my interpretation. I try not to be too literal because it’s really easy for me to take this knowledge and spew it out like I learned it. I’m just trying to use it for the imagery.
What does your process look like?
I wish there was more to it. It comes from the painting itself. I struggle with that – with what to paint next. Like I have these ideas going around but I haven’t solidified them – I can’t seem to do it in my brain. I have to make a mess on the canvas and then I’m like “wow, that looks really awful, now I can start working.” It’s always problem solving and then things evolve from there. I’m trying to do more studies and drawing but I feel like it happens all on the canvas. I guess I should just accept that. For some reason I wish I had more planning in the process.
Who inspires you to make things?
The art I like is always changing. I got on Instagram and I’m really restricted with it. I only follow people who are making art, and only people that I really want to see. It’s been a great way to discover what I like, what I respond to. There’s this woman, Katherine Bradford in New York. I really love her work. It’s very imaginative. There are always figures in this atmospheric kind of place. Do you know Kim Dorland’s work? Most of his paintings are in the forest or in urban areas. They have this gritty feel to them. But they’re very atmospheric. That’s what I want my people to look like. These groups of people are forming some collective psychology.
What are some projects that are in the works for you now?
I am working towards a show in Castlegar at the Kootenay Gallery. These are magnified structures of fossils and really tiny sea creatures. I have my paleontology book and I look at the patterns of creatures. Most of them are microscopic that I then enlarge. I started putting people in them, and it gave it a sort of psychological element. There’s not much detail in the people. They’re just a little bit clued-out as to what’s going on and so I’m trying to include the history of what’s under us while the people remain somewhat unaware.
Is that how you feel people are in the world?
I feel we are in uncertain times and it doesn’t seem like there’s any direction. Nobody can really agree on what to do. There’s just a lot of rhetoric. I guess it has a bit of darkness to it, but it’s more about uncertainty. It’s a little bit – I don’t want to say doomsday but there is this part of me that feels like we’re just another layer, really. We’re just another species that comes and goes. I definitely recognize that there’s climate change influenced by humans. But humans were put on this planet. We’re natural creatures. We naturally developed all this technology that’s leading to this because we’re using our brains. We just haven’t been smart enough in our adaptations to work with what’s here. To me, it’s all natural. But it’s, of course, influenced by our greed.
Has anything in specific current events really ignited you to create work now?
No. I have been thinking about it a long time. For the last thirty years. The earth’s going to be fine, we’re just going to do ourselves in. I’ve accepted that. I don’t want to freak out about it, you just act appropriately. How do we work with people when we have to make changes to how we live? I am reading this book ‘Learning to Die in the Anthropocene,’ by Roy Scranton. It’s all about acceptance of “okay, we’re kind of f**d, so how are we going to deal with that?” This guy acknowledges the fact that we’re not going to get to a place to change things. It’s already kind of too late, so let’s just work with what we have. I’m doing a lot more reading about people interested in this idea of the Anthropocene. It is a proposed geologic time period. You don’t really know until after the fact when these periods happen. Maybe it will be an Epoch – a chunk of time, or maybe it will just be a boundary.
We would like to thank Carol for welcoming us into her space and we look forward to seeing her and many other talented artists at the Oxygen Art Market this year!