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Sylvia Grace Borda exhibition opens June 8th!

Kissing Project - Sylvia Grace Borda
Exhibition dates: June 9 – July 8, 2017*
Gallery hours: Wednesday to Saturday from 1-5pm
(*Closed July 1st for Canada Day)
Exhibition opening: Thursday, June 8th from 7- 9pm
ArtWalk opening: June 23rd from 6-9pm
Throughout this Spring, Sylvia Grace Borda has been the artist in residence at the Oxygen Art Centre developing her ‘Kissing Project.’ The artist’s proposal is not what you would expect – she has aimed to create contemporary artworks, celebrating local and cultural values of love and peace, while also capturing a portrait of Nelson residents caught in an embrace for a kiss.
The idea for the project came about through her discovery of a 1950s photograph of a Doukhobor couple kissing in the archives of Touchstones Nelson. The photograph shows the moment of a kiss between a then unknown Doukhobor woman and man. This photograph won the artist’s admiration.  She believes that the image of the Doukhobor kissing couple is particularly iconic and deserves national recognition as does Nelson’s own culture of openness.  The resulting community based art project has been inspired by these intersections, and in the artist’s desire to bring forth in her work a similar message of affection and affinity among the people who call Nelson home.
As part of her residency, Borda gave a public talk in which she illustrated a history of the kiss in art. She suggested through her talk that artistic expressions of affection sometimes surface in times of greatest collective trauma, such as after World War II when the famous “original kissing couple” was photographed by French photographer Robert Doisneau. This iconic photograph helped to elevate Paris out its war torn state and into the romantic capitol of Europe.
Similarly, the kiss can serve as a sign of protest rather than just represent an intimate moment. This is the case when the artist was sleuthing for further information about the image of the “Doukhobor kissing couple” that inspired her art series. The artist was curious as to who the couple were, where was the photograph staged, what were circumstances around the kiss, who was the photographer and why was the photograph taken? With the help of Touchstones Nelson’s archivist, Jean-Philippe Stienne, and the Doukhobor Museum, some information around the photograph has been revealed and a rich history is unfolding. One that curiously places the photograph nicely into the artist’s hypothesis in linking moments of stress with those of affection, war with peace!
Guided by the question, “Can Nelson be the Paris of the north?”, a call for participants was sent out in late winter. The artist invited the public to nominate kissing partners, places, and to create visual narratives that could be shared with wider audiences as contemporary artworks. The task of photographing the couples happened over a three-day period at locations chosen by the couples ranging from Lakeside park to Pixie’s Candy shop. The process of photography had an additional unique layer in that the couples were photographed in a 360 degree context to be embedded in Google Street View that will bring the scenes to ‘life’ in an accessible way.

The images are both documents of place and diverse portraits of the kissing sitters themselves. There’s a Doukhobor couple celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary, a couple choosing to celebrate a kiss at a childhood haunt, and others embracing their pet or taking along their own poetry. If you ever thought a kiss was a simple act, Borda’s images show a range of emotion and ideas about love, harmony, and even dissent.
Will this be the last of the Kissing Project?  The artist hopes not, she intends to extend the project, funding available to the creation of a Kissing Trail!  Pucker up Nelson!
Join us at the opening and hear more about this story.
Sylvia Grace Borda is a practicing media artist with interests in the development and promotion of Canadian photographic history and visual arts. She has taught at the University of British Columbia and at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her practice has also brought her international opportunities, including Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Stirling in Scotland. She has been granted several awards for her exhibition work that is shaping and challenging contemporary photographic expression. More about the artist can be found at
Join us on Thursday, June 8th at the Oxygen Art Centre for an opening reception and launch of the exhibition, the Kissing Project . The opening will run from 7-9pm with the artist in attendance. The exhibition will be on display until July 8th. The gallery is open Wednesday - Saturday from 1-5pm. The exhibition will participate in the June art walk on the 23rd when the gallery will be open from 6-9pm.

Photo Credit: Sylvia Grace Borda from ‘Kissing Project’
Top photograph: John and Theresa Southam
Bottom photograph: Ameila and Suki

320 Vernon St (alley entrance)
250 352 6322
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 REMINDER: Tom Wayman & Clinton Swanson - Friday, May 12th at 7.30pm!

The longstanding links between music and poetry will be celebrated at a combined musical performance and book launch Friday, May 12th at Nelson, B.C.’s Oxygen Art Centre. Featured will be jazz duo Clinton Swanson and Doug Stephenson and author Tom Wayman.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free ($5 donation appreciated). Oxygen is located at 320 Vernon St. (alley entrance).

“Poetry began as song lyrics, or recited to musical accompaniment,” said Wayman, who will be launching his newest collection, Helpless Angels, the poems of which all relate to music. “As literacy spread through society, poetry began to be written for the page, too. But the two art forms have remained linked, most recently illustrated by the awarding of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.”

Performing at the Oxygen event will be Clinton + 1, consisting of local saxophone legend Clinton Swanson together with jazz guitarist Doug Stephenson. Swanson has performed locally, nationally and internationally for nearly 30 years in multiple ensembles, presenting his original compositions and arrangements. Stephenson is a long-time guitarist, bassist, songwriter and producer who moved to Nelson in 2012. He has worked with such musical stars as “Big” Miller, Tommy Banks and P.J. Perry.

 “Clinton + 1,” Swanson said, “is a jazz duo that performs standards and originals with an emphasis on melody and creative improvisation.”

Wayman, a Slocan Valley resident since 1989, said his recent book of poems was conceived when he realized that his generation was the first in human history to be able to listen to any music they choose anywhere they go. “Poems in Helpless Angels reflect on how this development has impacted us throughout our lives. Other poems in the collection honor musicians who have been important to me, respond to the music found in nature, or consider the ways music enhances or alters our moods,” he said.

 One poem in Helpless Angels was named in February the winner of Musicworks magazine’s “sonic geography” literary contest. Wayman’s 2012 poetry collection Dirty Snow won the Acorn-Plantos Award, and his 2015 collection of short stories about the Slocan Valley, The Shadows We Mistake for Love, won the Diamond Foundation Prize for Fiction (Western Canada Jewish Book Awards). Author of more than 20 poetry collections, as well as various books of fiction and nonfiction, Wayman in 2015 was declared a Vancouver Literary Landmark with a plaque on the city’s Commercial Drive commemorating his contribution to Vancouver’s literary heritage.

The Oxygen event is the first of a tour will see Helpless Angels launched during May and June in the company of various musicians in Vernon, Vancouver, Regina, Saskatoon and Edmonton. The collection is published by Saskatoon’s Thistledown Press, who are co-sponsoring the Nelson event.


Presenting the 7th annual Oxygen Art Market!

The 7th Annual Oxygen Art Market will take place on

May 26, 27, 28, 2017

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 30 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 120 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.

2017 Oxygen Art Market artists include:

Brent Bukowski, Natasha Smith, Carol Wallace, Susan Andrews Grace, Brian Kalbfleisch, Deborah Thompson, Yvonne Munroe, Micheal Graham, Carol Reynolds, Lindsay Dew, Rachel Yoder, Sally Johnston, Boukje Elzinga, Erica Konrad, Stephanie Kellett, Courtenay Anderson, John Cooper, Kiera Zaslove, Sergio Santos, Marilyn McCombe, Heather MacAskill, Sue Parr, Nicole Hobbs, Deirdre McLaughlin, Kate Bridger, Jennifer Lount-Taylor, Selda Canoglu, John Stegman, Michelle Colley, Rick Foulger, Karen Guilbaullt, Matt Holman, Mirja Vahala, Branda Christoffersen

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320 Vernon St (alley entrance)
250 352 6322
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