Review (kind of): Gallery Explorations


Guest: Jennifer, Second Year Communications Student

At this point I feel as though I’ve seen Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape a thousand times. I’ve become so familiar with some of the works that I have begun to see them in my dreams. Now this is not a complaint, I loved the show and all the pieces in it. However, after a few times seeing the same thing over and over you start to lose your grasp on what you’re really seeing. Thankfully for me, on my last trip to this installation I had my lovely friend Jennifer with me. Eager to see and experience “the other side of the library” Jenni was excited for our trip.

We entered to a quiet gallery. Only one other person was visible towards the far end, so we were more or less alone. Perfect. For some reason, I think there’s something about a busy art gallery that puts people off experiencing it. For those of us without the trained eye, we feel as if we are somehow viewing it “wrong.” Having others around to watch us aimlessly attempt to interpret these complex images is a little scary. I was happy that for Jenni, she would get the freedom to experience the space. Overall, I tried my best to hang back while she worked her way through the gallery. In typical Jenni style, she asked me a lot of questions. Questions about the show, certain works and their meanings. Thankfully I didn’t have many answers. If I’ve learned anything from my time with KAG, it’s that not everything needs a concrete answer. Sometimes it’s better to just let what’s in front of you exist.

We didn’t have as much time as I would have liked, but such is the student life. Always hustling and bustling our way to the next experience. On our way, out I asked Jenni about what she thought, but it didn’t feel quite right for this excursion. All of my other outings have been about an event, a set program with rules. It makes sense to critique those because there was thought behind planning it. For our walk through the gallery though…it was different. Had I been asked about my opinions the first time I saw the show I probably wouldn’t have been able to place that into eloquent speech either. Perhaps the artistic minded would be able to provide commentary right away, but for us it wasn’t that simple. For two communications students who regularly deal in the “real and practical” world, coming to an art gallery is like stepping through the mirror. It is truly an entirely different realm of thought, one that our minds cannot quickly process. But, that is why I recommend it. Whether alone, or with another friend who hasn’t a clue I wish people would go and do things like this. Stepping out of your world and into another is jarring, but in a good way. It allows us to see things from a unique view that can be hard to obtain. If the staff at KAG has made anything clear to me it’s that everyone is welcome. You don’t need a BFA to have a real experience here, you just have to go for it.

Sidebar: KAG Employees


“Of course, an arts student always wants to go to the Art Gallery…” – Kristina

So once again I’ve had to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming here on the TRUmeetsKAG blog. Last week I had every good intention of attending and covering an artists’ talk with my lovely student volunteer. However, the universe decided it was not meant to be. Jennifer and I arrived at the gallery waiting to absorb the knowledge of the visiting artist, but alas we were met with sorrow filled faces. Two gallery guides met us and announced the tragic news. We took pause to process our grief, in an attempt to move forward with our lives. Drama aside, I realized I still had an article to write. Looking around frantically I scanned the room for some inspiration. The Gallery Store was indeed an interesting specimen. It contains a variety of good looking items from earrings to post cards, many of which were made right here in B.C.! Profiling the store would have been fine, just dandy even. But then I thought of something better. Right before me I had two living breathing pieces of KAG. Way better.

I was familiar with Kristina and Jillian in a very strange way. I had seen them both on my previous trips to KAG but never really had the opportunity to say hello. Then I received a comment from Jillian on one of Instagram posts, inviting to stop by. So, I was abstractly familiar with their existence but had yet to add any real substance. In a lull, I decided to ask Kristina if I could borrow her and ask a few quick questions. Here is just a taste of what transpired:

Sheridan: So, what was your relationship with KAG like while you were at TRU?

Kristina: I came to a lot of openings. A lot of the professors in the art program were really good at letting us know “hey this is happening tonight go see it.” Or even making assignments about the gallery. I was here for most of the shows during that time.

S: Did you enjoy going or did it feel forced?

K: I genuinely enjoyed going to the art gallery! Even when it was a busy student time, there was still a part of me that really enjoyed it.

S: What is your relationship with the gallery like now that you work here?

K: I’ve gotten to know a lot more sections of the gallery and the inner workings of it so that’s really exciting to me. Being here for all of the programs and events offered…it’s more of a lifestyle now.

S: So, what is your favourite program here?

K: I’d have to say the Ladies’ Afternoon Drawing Club. I know it’s a favourite for a lot of people but everybody always comes out laughing and having a good time, it’s a feel-good kind of event!

S: Do you see potential for TRU students to come here and enjoy [the gallery] the way you did when you attended?

K: Definitely! If you have a pre-existing interest in art, or you’re just wanting to get more involved. Or if you don’t know anything and you just want to look and see how you feel about it, it’s a great thing. Of course Thursdays are free admission days so that’s a perfect time for the non-art enthusiasts to come check it out!



Needless to say, I was thrilled! Over my few years of experience I have found that as soon as you raise a camera or recording device people tend to recoil. The mere concept of having themselves recorded seems to read as more of a punishment than a simple request. Luckily for me, Kristina was by no means one of those people. She spoke so clearly and concisely! I am beginning to wonder if KAG employees are trained in public speaking. Regardless, we had a great chat about the relationship between the gallery and TRU. Some things I had already figured, others I hadn’t thought of. At this point in the night, I was starting to regret not involving more employees…and sooner! Thankfully, I did get some of my wish fulfilled. After our recorded conversation was over, Jillian, Kristina and I continued chatting about this special place. They told me some of their fondest memories and we all shared our thoughts on certain articles that had made the headlines recently. #artisporn. We spent a good while sharing and joking until I finally relented and released them from my endless stream of consciousness.

Despite my original shock and disappointment, I’m really glad the artist never showed that night. I’ve been so focused on highlighting the programs and events at KAG that I neglected to see the element that makes it all so great: the people. For the most part I have spent this journey dealing with our one awesome Emily. Now don’t get me wrong she is fantastic, but now I see that she’s not alone in being fantastic. All the cogs (a.k.a. people) that work at the Kamloops Art Gallery are there for a reason, they have some kind of connection to that place. Something that allows them to speak for and about it in a way that no one could ever be trained to do. I don’t know if that translates to passion or instinct, but it’s something pretty amazing. Even though this wasn’t my regularly scheduled review, I still want to give it a rating. Easily, 5/5. I’ll make it 10/10 for this one because it sounds better. I 100% recommend that everyone connects themselves in some capacity to the wonderful people working at KAG. I was lucky to spend a few minutes with them, imagine what you could learn in a day or a lifetime. This place is what it is because of the people who invest in it with their hearts and souls. I wouldn’t change a thing. Keep doing what you’re doing KAG employees, you’ve got it right!

Review: DIY Thursday


Guest: Kennedy, 1st Year Human Service Diploma

“I just made the best art project of my life.” – Kennedy

Student Scale: 5/5

So here we are once again. A chilly Thursday night in Kamloops (this particular night sadly contained snow) a student volunteer by my side and the promise of a new adventure! In terms of the “do it yourself” aspect, I really wasn’t confident that I’d actually be doing anything. The last time I attempted a Pinterest craft there were tears. Luckily, I had Kennedy with me. A bona fide artsy human being. Before we entered, they were already inquiring about what materials would be available and the type of project we’d be completing. While new to Kamloops this year, Kennedy has already begun making connections with the artist community here. Ultimately their interest that night was in furthering that connection in what little free time was available. My goal was to avoid a repeat of my failed Pinterest attempts and try to give Kennedy a positive experience at KAG.

When we entered the studio it was a new experience for both of us. Previously, I had come into a nearly blank room, waiting to be filled with people and voices. This time the studio was already teeming with both of these. Tables were covered in drinks and bodies were moving freely whilst interacting with one another. We had walked in on Art History Happy Hour. An event full of learning and maybe a little bit of drinking! For me it was an entirely new environment to come upon as I had become accustomed to the slow build that typically accompanies these events. Still, it was a fantastic energy! The creativity and openness seemed almost tangible enough for us to grab on and take hold of it.

We waited patiently for things to die down and the DIY to begin. The best surprise was seeing a familiar face. Our very own Emily was leading the charge with drink in hand. With great conviction she led us down the rabbit hole into the world of “lino cuts”. Kennedy became very excited upon discovering that this was what we’d be up to tonight. I was glad that at least one of us was up to the challenge. So armed with my pink plastic rectangle, and Kennedy with their wood we began our artistic process! Granted, much of our “process” involved gossip and jokes but I believe it was all for the art.

In the end we produced a top notch tooth and a surprisingly decent leaf to pattern on to our papers. My little leaf might not be long for this world but I suspect Kennedy will hold on to that tooth for future use!

From Emily: “I think folks come here with the expectation of learning something that they’ve never done before. That’s a great attitude to show up with. One of the hardest things with art is that sense of nervousness, or ego. ‘Can I make something that’s really perfect and beautiful, this idea that I have in my mind of what I want that to be.’ I mean that’s a lot of pressure. Professional artists can’t make that happen half of the time! So when you come to one of these with that open mind of: ‘maybe it’s going to work, maybe it’s not going to work’ that works out really well.”

Recommendations: We loved DIY night. Even I, with no artistic abilities whatsoever had a great time. Instructions were easy to follow, and the atmosphere was very open with no agenda. You could easily attend and do the prescribed project, or sit, doodle and listen. Kennedy and I spent most of the night chipping away at our creations and chatting. So how exactly do you improve such a peaceful and accessible program? My first instinct of course is to say DO IT MORE. Sadly, the next DIY event doesn’t take place until May. In a perfect world filled with free money for non-profits I’d say do it every week, but of course that is not our world. My next best idea: promotion.

While social media definitely helps, for a program as tactile as this, why not feature the produced works? Much like the community wall that showcases local or smaller artists, why not designate a wall for work created right there in the studio? While I’m sure some will take their prints home and cherish them forever, many of us lack space to display small projects like these. So why not offer up the chance for people to place their work in a visible space? This way not only to participants get to show off, but potential newcomers get to see what really happens. Instead of this abstract idea of creating “something”, have something physical to point to and say “someone made that!”


Sidebar: How We Got Here


Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to my scheduled event this week. Obviously I’m bummed but that’s the way she goes. I still needed to post this week so I started brainstorming what to write about. Then I thought “Well hey! Some folks reading this probably don’t even know what this is all about!” So, I thought I’d use this space to do a quick run-down of how our little team came to be.

Here are the basics:

  • We are three students (Sheridan, Carmen, and John) enrolled in CMNS 3700: Cultural Mapping at TRU.
  • We are led by Dr. Kathleen Scherf and aided by Emily of the Kamloops Art Gallery, and Robbi from Open Learning.
  • It was identified that KAG is missing a valuable connection with TRU.
  • Our goal is to use our individual skills to illuminate the strengths of the gallery, and bring them to the attention of students.

Back in January (it already seems so long ago) I signed up for a random communications class to fulfill some upper level requirements. I sat in the classroom by myself for awhile thinking I had got the wrong room. Not too long later Kathleen and Robbi showed up, confirming that I was in fact in the right place. I was happy but at the same time I was thinking “Great this class is going to get cancelled because I’m the only one in it.” Thankfully, Carmen also showed up and we spent that first day chatting with Kathleen about what Cultural Mapping exactly is. How I understand it now is that Cultural Mapping involves the exploration of a space through lived histories and experiences.

The concept of the class was fascinating, but I won’t lie I thought about dropping out of the course at first. I knew nothing about art, let alone the gallery here in town. All of what Kathleen discussed us eventually doing just seemed so out of reach for me. I didn’t think I possessed the skills to do the project justice. However, it ended up being a good thing that it was just Carmen and I that day because I could not (in good conscience) have left her by herself. The course likely would have been cancelled and we’d both be looking for a replacement. I decided to stick with it despite my fears.

By the next class we were at KAG for the first time, and we got to meet Emily! I don’t think there could have been a better spokesperson to lead us that day. That day we also all met John, our third member who had been away sick the previous week. We all got an extensive tour of the Kamloops Art Gallery and its’ inner workings. As someone foreign to the world of art it was a really special experience. We don’t often get opportunities to go deep into the unfamiliar, we usually only see glances. It felt like peeking into a private world we were never meant to see (in a good Narnia type way). At the end of the tour we sat down in the studio space to discuss exactly where it was we wanted to concentrate our efforts.

Originally, when Kathleen had designed the course she did so with a slightly larger group in mind. With more bodies more ground can be covered, but with only three of us we had to narrow it down. We chatted with Emily about what she wanted from us, and what we were able to do. Ideas were bouncing around the room from interviewing “unintended audiences”, to staging our own full-scale event. Thankfully, we all have loud enough voices that everyone was able to chime in. Recognizing that we all had separate talents and skills was a big part of pulling it all together. Ultimately, the three of us knew that while we would have all this expert help, the finished product would come from us.

It took more than that day, but eventually we had to force ourselves into a conclusion. What could we realistically do in one semester? How are we helping KAG? What the heck is cultural mapping?!? Finally, we decided our best course of action would be to target the group we all know best: students. So to accomplish that we have: John scheduled to produce a promotional video, Carmen physically mapping and documenting the building, and myself (Sheridan) doing a little social media and of course writing these posts.

I may have been skeptical of this whole undertaking at first, but now I’m so glad I stayed. Not only am I probably in the coolest class at TRU right now, but I get to hang out with this great group of people every week. Our mentor team has taught us so much already and I’m sure there’s more to come. I’m getting to connect with a wider Kamloops community through KAG’s Instagram, and I just love it. In the grand scheme of things this endeavor might not end up amounting to much. I can only speak for myself, but I think the rest of #TRUmeetsKAG would agree, the journey is worth it anyways.

Review: Art Duel


T’was a night like any other in Kamloops, B.C. Stores were closing, classes ending, and some were settling in for the night. However, that was not in fact the case for those making their way over to the Kamloops Art Gallery. When we arrived, it seemed from outside just like any other night. The classical music hung in the air beckoning us inside. The glass doors could not tell what they held inside. What we happened upon was a battle of epic proportions!

Okay dramatic introduction aside, the Art Duel was by no means what I expected. We entered the studio space to find the type of atmosphere you would only find at an art gallery. Our greeters were wildly costumed and bouncing in their seats! Truthfully, I don’t know if the jitters were from sheer anticipation or the array of sugary treats provided, either way I was excited. Looking around the room, I knew we were in for a good night. From the balloon streamers to the crazy song covers playing the studio seemed reborn. I knew it was the same space we had sat in the previous week for Kitchen Conversations, yet somehow the energy had transformed it.
Anxiously awaiting the beginning of the dueling, we snacked on pizza and drinks. As time went on it seemed a steady stream of newcomers entered and chairs were systematically added to accommodate them. Despite the wait, we all remained in good spirits, chatting among ourselves, and mentally preparing for what we were about to witness.
When the time finally came the studio space was beyond filled. From the costumed to the post-work attired, we were ready to get down to business! It was set up tournament style. Participants went randomly head to head hoping to move on to the next round. By the first strokes of chalk we were hooked! Each pair was given two random words with which they needed to draw (blindfolded!), one becoming the other. I applaud whoever came up with this theme as it fits perfectly with the current exhibit Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape. The exhibit explores the concepts of transformation and change. Once again it goes to show how KAG is reaching its audiences in creative ways.
In terms of jeering and heckling we weren’t exactly the best peanut gallery. We waited silently while contestants drew their creations right on the wall. Yes, the wall. After each round, we cheered on those brave enough to show their stuff. Time moved faster than expected and in a flurry of chalk dust, respectful cheers, and popcorn it was down to the last stand.

Our final two had really put up a fight to get to the end. The purpose of the duel was really just to be silly and have a good time. However, these two had managed to put up some really awesome work! It was thoughtful and surprisingly well drawn! By this point in the night the judges had abandoned the 1-10 rating scale and were well into triple digits. Was it the pure talent of the artists, or maybe a little too much to drink from Red Collar? It remains a mystery. So, it all came down to the hosts tallying scores totaling somewhere in the 700s. By some arbitrary amount a contestant calling herself “Petal to the Metal” was declared the winner!

And just like that the night was brought to a halt. We couldn’t believe over three hours had gone by. I really must commend KAG for knowing their audience and knowing how to entertain them. I was never once bored or hungry all night. I know this is where I’m supposed to provide my critique and say what needs to be fixed, but the saying holds true here: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Art Duel is by far a Kamloops hidden gem, my only concern is how and why more citizens don’t know about this? Get on it travel blogs, Kamloops Tourism! Let’s get Art Duel on the map!

Review: Kitchen Conversations


Guest: Mackenzie 2nd Year Psychology Student

“You just get to hang out with people and talk about art…even if you don’t know anything about art.” – Mackenzie on Kitchen Conversations

Student Scale: 4/5

Last Thursday night I convinced my roommate Mackenzie to join me for Kitchen Conversations at the Kamloops Art Gallery. My task had been to find a student unfamiliar with the programming and get their impressions of what KAG has to offer. Being the cynic that she is Mackenzie did not start off with high hopes. Right off the bat she questioned me about what the night had in store and begrudgingly changed her outfit to something more “art gallery appropriate”. I’ll admit I had my reservations about the night as well. Before joining the #TRUmeetsKAG team, I’d had little to no interaction with my local art gallery. Since meeting some of the staff however, I was inclined to keep an open mind.

We arrived a few minutes early and took our seats in the circle of chairs assembled in the studio space. Immediately we were greeted by our guide for the evening. He greeted us, offered us tea and got our names. Internally I applauded whoever’s idea it was to have tea on hand. Tea automatically = safe place.

Once in the gallery, our guide began giving us an overview of the first work we arrived at. His commentary involved a brief background on the artist and the work itself. He then allowed the group time to absorb the work and then opened up the conversation. Our tour group size worked perfectly for this. The seven of us formed a semi-circle around each work. Each of us were then able to share our own thoughts and criticisms.

We considered our group to be well-balanced as it consisted of: fine arts students, a young parent, grandparents, and of course ourselves. Throughout the evening, it was evident that our varied backgrounds gave way to differing opinions, however we were all able to talk through our contentions and biases. Every point of view was heard, valued, and respected. Regardless of the fact that we did not all view the exhibit in the same light, by the time we returned to the studio it didn’t matter. Sipping on our teas we began lengthy discussions on a variety of different topics from generational bias, to child beauty pageants.

Overall, I’m giving the night 4 out of 5 on the student scale. By this I mean that I think this is a great event for TRU students to attend. Not only is this a free way to get out of the house, but it provides an opportunity to just speak your mind. As a student, I know how limiting the classroom can be at times, you have to stay focused, on topic, and on schedule. At kitchen conversations, everybody just gets to say and feel whatever they want, while still learning something valuable.

From Mackenzie: “It was a really good experience! I liked the [exhibit] and the tour. I liked our tour guide, and how everyone was really respectful of each others opinions. It was nice at the end to have the light refreshments, and how we just got into these really deep conversations. It wasn’t even really relating to the art anymore, but the art initially like…started all of that! I would recommend it because it got you out of your comfort zone, it made people feel uncomfortable. I definitely feel like it was something I would recommend you do with a friend, because I feel like it could be intimidating if you’re not familiar with any of it.”

Recommendations: Our only recommendation we had was an idea the two of us came up with whilst back in our own kitchen. The easiest way to get to students? Professors. Mackenzie and I really liked the potential of having professors involved with a tour. In the fields of sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc. there are numerous links that could be made to the themes in any given exhibit. We thought it would be great to see tours of the gallery established as part of a course. Perhaps a particular piece on the tour is a prompt for a creative writing class. Maybe a professor leads a tour in tandem with a gallery guide and offers their expertise on a topic of interest. Regardless of the form, we see the potential with this program to bring the gallery into the classroom.