Upstream Benefits Symposium – ADVICE FOR ARTISTS

Sunday, November 26
11am –  ADVICE FOR ARTISTS panel at Oxygen Art Centre
Guest curators : Paul Crawford, Penticton Art Gallery, Maggie Shirley, Kootenay Gallery of Art and Arin Fay, Touchstones Nelson.

Moderator – Ian Johnston

This is an excellent opportunity for emerging and mid-career artists to gain useful insights into what curators look for in an exhibition submission, from the perspective of curators representing public galleries in Penticton, Castlegar and Nelson. Presenters will discuss the interests of the organizations they work for, as well as share some of their own particular curatorial interests.  Nelson-based visual artist Ian Johnston will moderate this panel and will draw on his own learning experiences getting his artwork out in the world and into the gallery.



Paul Crawford has been the Director/Curator of the Penticton Art Gallery since the spring of 2006, arriving here after serving in the same position at the Grand Forks Art Gallery from 2002 – 2006. He has a lifelong passion for history, Canadian art and art history. Paul is also a co-producer of the annual ArtsWells Festival, producer of the International One Minute Play Festival and is involved with BC Musician Magazine. In addition he serves on the boards of Island Mountain Arts, in Wells and the Okanagan School of the Arts in Penticton and is on the City of Penticton’s Public Arts advisory Committee.

Over the past twenty-five years Paul Crawford’s role in the arts in British Columbia has included: collector, scholar, lecturer, gallery owner, art consultant, independent curator, juror, board member, Director/Curator of the Grand Forks Art Gallery and the Penticton Art Gallery. With over 300 exhibitions to his credit his exhibition, Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art, is touring across Canada and is currently on display at the War Museum in Calgary.


The Penticton Art Gallery was at one time the largest public gallery between Vancouver and Calgary and features three exhibition spaces, one of the largest fine art reference libraries in the interior and a permanent collection of over 1200 works. Each year the gallery features a minimum of eighteen exhibitions each lasting between six and eight weeks, featuring the work of artists living and working across Canada and on occasion internationally. The gallery also features an extensive public outreach program to engage the community with the exhibitions, the visual arts, art history, contemporary culture and hands on workshops.


Arin Fay is a curator, writer, and artist living in the interior of British Columbia. Areas of special interest include: publications, curatorial writing and advocating for art and artists. Arin has curated and toured several exhibitions in British Columbia, including Marianne Nicolson’s ‘Waterline’ and Toru Fujibayashi and Tsuneko Kokubo’s ‘Regeneration’ . She holds an English degree (with distinction), and has attended the Banff Centre – Writing with Style Program (2010), and undertaken a residency at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina Saskatchewan (2016). Arin has been an active participant in the arts and culture community in the Kootenays for over twenty years, as an artist, volunteer, board member and curator. Her female writer focused art series Between the Lines has exhibited widely, and several images reproduced for publication: Jean Rhys: Scrittrice ipertestuale, 2011; Horsefly Literary Magazine (Cover art – Issue #5), 2008; Nod Magazine (Issue #9, February 2009). Arin is the Curator at Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History in Nelson, British Columbia

Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History
VISION: An inclusive society inspired by the convergence of art and history.
MISSION: To be a cultural hub that provides integrative art and regional history programs to encourage new perspectives and foster a collaborative community.


Maggie Shirley is a poly-media artist, emerging curator and art writer/reviewer. Her art work is based on thematic research into the human body, environment and technology, primarily taking the form of performance, installation and socially-engaging projects, often using Augmented Reality technology. Her work has been exhibited in Ireland, Canada and Spain. She graduated with an MFA from UBC Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies in 2013.   Prior to doing her Masters, she completed her BFA at the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2008. While she lived in Ireland, she was honoured to act as an Invigilator for the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2007). Following her undergraduate degree, she returned to Canada and worked at the Banff New Media Institute (The Banff Centre).

Shirley has recently expanded into a curatorial practice. For the project Preserves held in the Kelowna Art Gallery in the winter of 2015, she was lead artist and curator.

Currently, Maggie Shirley lives in the Kootenays where she works as Curator at the Kootenay Gallery of Art and actively pursues her independent art/curatorial practice. She is on the board of the Oxygen Art Centre and has been part of Selection Committees for both Oxygen and the Kootenay Gallery.



Ian Johnston is an artist based in Nelson, BC. Born in Moose Factory, Ontario and raised in Ottawa, Johnston studied architecture at Algonquin College, and Carleton University in Ottawa and with the University of Toronto at Paris. Prior to opening his Nelson studio in 1996 he spent five years working at the Bauhaus Academy in post Berlin Wall East Germany. At the Bauhaus, together with two architects, he developed and facilitated a series of workshops around themes of urban renewal and public intervention in a tumultuous time of cultural transformation. Johnston’s art practice is a self-described ‘journey’ of bodies of work that began with a focus on consumerism and the physical waste stream. His current work Fine Line has switched attention from consumption culture to the obsessive-compulsive behaviour that epitomizes it. Johnston has participated in residencies and shown his work in public galleries and museums in Canada, Asia, Europe and the United States.



‘Upstream Benefits – Rural Art Symposium’ is a 4-day-long symposium that explores and celebrates the role and impact that the arts have in rural communities and will bring into focus artist-run culture in the Kootenays.  Symposium programming includes multiple panel discussions, artist talks, literary readings, a night of performance art and music and an art exhibition.  All symposium programming is free to attend and everyone is welcome!  (Donations are appreciated.)

For more information and to see the symposium schedule link here

Oxygen Art Centre gratefully acknowledges support for this programming from Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Columbia Basin Trust, British Columbia Arts Council and Province of British Columbia, Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History, The Writers’ Union of Canada, Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres, City of Nelson, Region District of Central Kootenay, Hall Printing, Nelson Star and the Hume Hotel.

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