The Penticton Art Gallery is proud to once again partner with The Meadowlark Nature Festival which celebrates the amazing biodiversity of the Okanagan Similkameen. In doing so it brings to the forefront the increasing need to protect our limited fresh water supply and dwindling wildlife habitats which are increasingly feeling the pressures brought on by climate change, population growth, and pressures from poorly planned urban development. If you have not previously taken advantage of the amazing programming offered over the five days of the festival, I encourage you get out into our natural environment and sample some of the 70 plus events being offered this year. This year’s extensive program include adventures in hiking, cycling, canoeing, art walks, film screenings, indigenous cultural events, bird watching, back-country horseback riding, geological tours, astronomy events, art exhibitions, photography, writing and painting workshops, children’s programming and more – all designed to be entertaining, interactive and informative.
Congratulations to all those who have contributed and supported the Meadowlark Festival over the past 18 years and to this years featured artist Bethany Handfield. Your combined legacy will ensure that the world we know today will still be here for those generations who will come after.
This years exhibition is entitled, Bee Alchemy & the Resurrection of Dreaming, and in describing the motivation and intent behind the work the artist Bethany Handfield writes:
“With Bee Alchemy & the Resurrection of Dreaming I am bringing together pieces and themes from my past series work, including the Bee Dreaming and The Things Unseen series, along with new paintings and assemblage sculptures to further explore the concept of “mythos future past”. Here I pose the question “In a future world where the environmental degradation has continued unabated, humankind as we know it, food security and our current global culture lost, what lifeform(s) will rise up? What will they make of the things that we have left behind, the things that do not breakdown over time, how will these obsolete apparatuses become incorporated into future mythologies? What will they yearn for most from that which we have destroyed?”
I feel that with the collapse of bee colonies around the world, and the havoc that will happen if protection is not put in place, these lovely creatures will become “unicorns” to the future dwellers who will see them as magical beings that disappeared for lack of proper reverence and care. Their world will be a darker and bleaker one without the rich bounty of the life bringing bees. Our future dwellers will be left with the detritus of our current mass production lifestyles, now reworked and upcycled into their rituals and mythologies – dreaming of bees where the world was greener and food more plentiful. So here I give you Bee Alchemy & the Resurrection of Dreaming – the story of these future beings and their quest to right the wrongs of the beasts from past history.”
Bethany Handfield is an artist and teacher who primarily works in mixed media and encaustic. Born in North Carolina, she has lived in many parts of the USA, Western Canada, and Australia. Never setting deep roots in one home, she has gleaned the stories of the places she has lived, parceling them into her soul memory creating the mixed tape alchemy of her present selfhood.
She worked for many years in Vancouver as an editor for film and television before moving to the Okanagan in 2006, where she embarked on a new journey of self-discovery through creative exploration. She has become a vibrant part of the Okanagan art scene with her contributions to the encaustic community and through her art classes and volunteerism.
Through her Exploring Encaustic series of art classes, Bethany guides students on their creative journey using the medium of encaustic in a safe and knowledgeable setting. She strives to impart not just the technical aspects of working with the medium, but also the deeper intention of why we create, what are we trying to convey, and the deeper connection of the healing qualities of art making. Her students have gone on to have great success in their own exhibitions, winning awards, and creating lovely bodies of work.
“It is only through practice and play that we arrive at the heart of who we are as artists. Freeing ourselves from expectation when we are beginners and challenging ourselves to reach deeper and push farther when we have gained experience. Being an artist is not a cloak you pick up only when it is time to create – it is a way of living and how you share your life with your community. It is your invitation to others to come join the dance.”
Bethany is also the coordinator of marketing and volunteers for the South Okanagan Women in Need Society (SOWINS) and volunteers her time with them through the Healing Mondays project where the women that SOWINS serves are invited to participate in the healing power of art through creative exercises that also engage opportunities for self-reflection, empowerment, and positive visualization. This project will be starting up again in September thanks to a grant from the Penticton & District Community Arts Council.
Bethany teaches throughout the Okanagan and is the vice president of CanwaxWest, owner/operator of Encaustic Supply Canada (national encaustic art supply business), Exploring Encaustic (retail sales / teaching), and Bethany Handfield Creative Arts (teaching/exhibiting).
Bethany was the winner of the Thea Haubrich Award of Excellence for Best in Show at the 2014 Waxing Poetic exhibition and was nominated for Arts Educator of the Year in 2014 & 2015 by the Penticton & District Community Arts Council.