Saturday, October 28, 2006


Last night Oxygen Art Centre threw a party to celebrate its new branding, including this logo

by designer Hildur Jonasson. Located in the alley beside Color Your World, behind Hipperson's and what used to be Kokanee Travel (for those of us who used to park there when the towering maple tree beside the back stairs could be swept aside with one hand), Oxygen and its antecedents have a long history in Nelson as spokeswoman and writing instructor, Nicola Harwood, told the enthusiastic crowd.

Here's Nic, talking us into buying memberships,

which, Nelson and area readers, is a good thing to do. Only fifteen bucks, and you get to feel good about supporting the arts. Funders need to know the organization seeking funding has lots of community support. It's all about numbers: if you want to GET numbers that have a dollar sign in front of them, you have to SUPPLY numbers with lots of PEOPLE behind them. Membership also gives you a shot at winning a painting IF you attend the upcoming AGM on November 22. You're also entitled to a 10% discount on any one Oxygen course, and you get five dollars off the cost of a very cool black T-shirt with the new logo on the front. ART IS ESSENTIAL is the simple message conveyed on the back. The red cross is a brilliant touch.

The place was packed. A number of writers read for three minutes each, standing at the podium surrounded by some fabulous artwork.

Verna Relkoff, poet, teacher, editor, and staunch supporter of Oxygen and its immediate predecessor, the Nelson Fine Arts Centre, started things off.

KLinda Kivi offered us a choice of topics from which she could read and then proceeded to warm a cold night with her words.

Margrith Schraner read from The Reluctant Author: The Life and Literature of Ernest Hekkanen, her new book that arrived from the printer just in time for the reading. She'll be launching it on November 18 at the New Orphic Gallery on Mill Street in Nelson.

Yours truly read three of her poems. Check out the paintings on the walls! No wonder Eileen Delehanty Pearkes said she had wall envy.

Rita Moir wound up the evening with a three minute reading about what you can do in three minutes... a very appreciative audience. KLinda helped with props like wrenches and cat-scratched newspaper and even a baggie of coyote shit. (I can see all you city readers nodding savagely, for now you know it must be true what they say 'bout them country folk!)

Aspen Switzer arrived from her dance class in time to hear Rita's presentation which ended with her talking about, and cuing up so we could hear, Aspen, Jessa and Jesse's powerful rendition of Jerusalem Revisited. I wasn't expecting that and was reduced to sniffling proud mother status immediately. That's Josh Wapp behind Aspen. The first print run of his new comic book, Over the Fence, is almost sold out.

It was a great evening. Good friends, good food, good words, and lots to look at. Here, Nicola Harwood and Fiona Brown, two of Oxygen's many hard-working volunteers, enjoy the show. Looking at the upcoming list of events at the Ideas Cafe, Nelson's Oxygen Art Centre is poised for a bright future. Check it out.

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