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Art of Four Blind and Vision-Impaired Artists Celebrated at Kelowna Art Gallery

Opening January 12, 2013, Just Imagine brings together the work of four blind and vision-impaired artists in a show that is sure to engage Kelowna audiences. Curated by blind local artist Ruth Bieber, the exhibition is intended to create a conversation about how human beings see, perceive, and respond to the world around them. Just Imagine highlights the work and methods of artists Bruce Horak, Busser Howell, PJ Lockhart, and Eriko Watanabe. It explores the idea that once we get past the typical notions of “seeing” the potential for artistic and creative expression is limitless.

Eriko Watanabe, Banjo Frogs, Lake Derverton, Oatlands, 2008, raised-line drawing on plastic, 10 ½ x 13 ¼ in.

“What I intend to do through drawing is to transfer what I perceive with my senses using dots, lines and surfaces. These include tastes, smells, touch, the flow of time, temperature, space, emotions, atmosphere, feelings, fantasies, ideas, and even my own imagination of colours and light,” explains German-based Eriko Watanabe in her artist’s statement about her raised-line drawings. A piece comprised of over 200 portraits by Calgary-based artist Bruce Horak, titled The Way I See It will be featured in the show and offers a glimpse at the answer to the often asked question “What do you see?” New York-based artist Busser Howell is a painter working in the vein of expressionist abstraction. His most recent work incorporates paint, paper, and other materials to create a single, monolithic image that becomes kinetic, with refraction of light on highly textured surfaces. Local resident PJ Lockhart is a prolific, self-taught artist who creates multi-media abstract work that incorporates everything from cell phones to hair gel.

PJ Lockhart, Creative Window of Opportunity, 2012, mixed media, 32 x 32 in.

Just Imagine is an inclusive exhibition for both sighted and vision-impaired patrons, with some works of art available to touch. A brochure to accompany the show will be produced in both text and Braille, and the labels for the art will be displayed in both large print and in Braille.

Busser Howell, Grey 22, mixed media, 30 x 25 in.

A panel discussion has been scheduled for Saturday, January 12, 2013, from 1 to 3 pm, with curator, Ruth Bieber, artists Bruce Horak, Busser Howell and Eriko Watanabe, and John M Kennedy, Professor Emeritus in the psychology department at the University of Toronto, as guest speakers. On Sunday, January 13, 2013, from 1 to 4 pm a special Family Sundays activity of painting portraits with artist Bruce Horak has been scheduled.

Bruce Horak, detail from ongoing project The Way I See It, acrylic on canvas

Just Imagine, generously funded by the Vancouver Foundation and the Central Okanagan Foundation, will be on view from January 12 to March 17, 2013 at the Kelowna Art Gallery. An opening reception to celebrate the exhibition will be held on Friday, January 11, 2013, from 7 to 9 pm, at the Kelowna Art Gallery. This will be a free event, open to members and guests, by invitation. All four artists will be in attendance.

The Kelowna Art Gallery is located at 1315 Water Street in downtown Kelowna. For more information about current exhibitions, public programming or special events, please visit the Kelowna Art Gallery online at

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