Okanagan Erotic Art Show

Erotic Art Show 2013 – Preface from the catalog
The Okanagan Erotic Show emerged in 2007, fellow artists Lauren Wilson, Angela Hansen and myself were talking about having an art show that was a bit more exciting than the usual run of the mill life drawing exhibitions. We were having a sip (or two, maybe more, I can’t remember) of wine while manning the Livessence booth at one of the local art shows, and noticed there were many people who would barely glance at the nudes on display. Censorship about what was “proper” had reared its ugly head. Knowing full well that erotic is perceived individually, we wanted to shake things up. We wanted to have some FUN!

The first show, “Blush, what makes you?” at the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA) in 2008 was a huge success, but as you can imagine, as the Rotary Centre for the Arts is a public building, there were a few complaints. In 2009, Angela went on to have her first child, and Lauren went traveling in Asia, so that year, I carried on my own, and have since.

2009 “Raw……Whispers” was at A. Woodside Design Gallery, and that year I created the first catalog. I realized how important that record seemed to be to each artist and I had fun doing it.  I learned InDesign, and started my relationship with the National Library and Archives.

2010 saw a bit of rough bumps and grinds, but that experience showed me where we, the Okanagan artists, were in terms of comfort level and where we, the local public, were in terms of artistic support and adventure. “Seduce Me” (2010), “The Edge of Night” (2011) and “Rumour has it…” (2012) were held at a new winery,  Ex Nihilo Vineyards in Lake Country. I was overwhelmed by the attendance at the opening nights, and the tremendously positive comments on the show throughout its run.  Each year it increased in popularity and attendance with 300 attendees in 2012 at opening night, and many of the artists, and patrons, dressed up!

The charity chosen for 2012 and 2013 is the Central Okanagan Hospice Association, in memory of Tracie Ward, the Executive Director of the Rotary Centre for the Arts from 2005 – 2012.  Tracie was the first champion of the first Erotic Show in spite of the negative comments received, her view was that the RCA is an Arts Centre first and foremost.  Thank you Tracie!

At the 2012 Opening Night, I was approached by Hans-Peter Mayr, General Manager and CEO of Sparkling Hills Resort, who indicated he would be interested in presenting the show.  2013 sees a new venue, a quite  exciting Opening Night planned, and as you will see, a new level reached!

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But what makes something erotic?

Eroticism is only perceived through emotion and imagination. The mystical, the uncanny, the provocative, the forbidden, the hidden.  There are varying levels of what one can consider as erotic, each as flexible as individual boundaries allow.  The erotic can be fun and playful, it can be sexy, it can be thoughtful, it can be intelligent.  For some, erotic can be nonsense, it can be elusive, evocative, mysterious, and metaphoric. For others, it can be
descriptive, illustrative, explicit. It is always a mirror reflecting our vulnerability.

The erotic can be all of this, experienced on the journey from one’s self, our journey on the way to la petite mort: the giving up of one’s identity in order to facilitate a spiritual union with the divine.

Many works in this show, and many of the other Erotic Art Shows I have seen, have a great deal of work relating to the female form.  As an artist, I ask myself is that an easy out? Is it such a cliche that simply by having a female, the artist has 90% of the work done for them? And on the other hand, I think some people think that any work containing a female nude is erotic, simply by her presence. Maybe both theories are right.

Many believe the female form is symbolic of the highest form of sensual expression. Through imagination, it can be manifested for example, in landscapes, and food. The feminine brand suggests to us the mysteries of life and the universe; it suggests rumours of the unknown. In human understanding, the female body is representative of all sacred space: from the juncture of tree limbs, to groves in a forest, to the rolling hills, to the hidden spaces within fruit and foods where seeds are kept, to man-made places where one “worships” or “creates”.

The feminine and aspects of the female form, represent our interpretation and evocation of the universe, and that mysterious, life-giving energy to which we long to unite, and embrace, and succumb. For the male artist and viewer, it is an offering to request entry in to that divine space, but for the female it is to self-actualize, for she is already there.