Art on the Line

I never thought I was a gambler…until the first time I attended Art on the Line.

Hosted by the Visual Arts Course Union and the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC’s Okanagan campus, this is one of my favorite arty events in Kelowna.  A ticket entitles the holder to select (and keep) one juried work of art – a sculpture or photograph, painting or mixed media.  Where does the gambling come in?  A random draw determines when this selection takes place.

The tension is high even within the first hour of the event, as you circulate amongst artworks by UBC students, faculty and alumni, as well as local artists.  It is critical to create a list of favorites, moderates, and – how shall I say – not unbearable pieces of artwork, so that you are prepared to select a piece of art when your number is called.  Nobody wants to be humming and hawing over a selection with a room full of 200 people awaiting their turns!

The draw takes place in the Fipke Lecture Theatre, to glasses of wine and the quirky MC-ing of creative writing prof, Michael V. Smith.  As tickets are drawn, pieces of art are displayed on the screen for the crowd to react to others’ selections and stroke “taken” pieces off their lists.  You can tell the popular pieces by collective groans – and the sexy pieces by collective chuckles and heckling.

In my five years attending, I’ve been drawn 5th and 99th of 100 tickets – as well as a few place in-between.  My first year, I had beginner’s luck.  Drawn in the top ten, I brought home a beautiful abstract painting, which backs my dining room table to this day.   This year, I am in touch with the artist who designed my print, discovering more about her creative process and technique.  Purchasing art this way, while risky, is certainly a lot more personal than purchasing a poster at Ikea.

Funds from Art on the Line all go back to the visual arts students – with the exception of the 10% that goes to a local charity.  Come next year and try your luck!

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