Okangan’s Largest Art Show

The theme of the 2013 Lake Country ArtWalk – ‘It’s About Time’ – is perfectly fitting as the successful arts festival celebrates its 20th year of providing the latest and best artworks in the Okanagan at a great family-friendly event. ArtWalk has much to celebrate – most notably its sustainability in being at the forefront of showcasing emerging Okanagan talent. Attracting over 7000 visitors a year, the annual festival is also celebrating the significance of ArtWalk in the development of Lake Country as an artistic hub.

Lake Country has always been home to ArtWalk. The first ArtWalk took place in 1994 at Holiday Park Resort under the leadership of Jody Lafontaine and featured original works from over 80 artists from the Okanagan Valley. “ArtWalk began out of a desire to share the corporate art collection at Holiday Park Resort with the community,” says Lafontaine. “It has always been about supporting local, emerging artists.”

The first show was extremely successful and it became an annual event at the Resort. Due to its popularity, ArtWalk outgrew the space at Holiday Park Resort and sought out a new venue. In 1999, interest was shown to host the event from both Kelowna and the District of Lake Country. Lafontaine chose to keep the event local. It officially became known as Lake Country ArtWalk and moved to the Lake Country Community Complex on Bottom Wood Lake Road, where it has run for 15 years.

Over time, ArtWalk has expanded, featuring more than 3000 original works from 300 Okanagan artists, photographers and sculptors as well as audio visual presentations, musical entertainment, children’s art activities and live theatre productions. ArtWalk’s popularity has put Lake Country on the map as a destination for the arts.

With a municipality of only 12,000 people, Lake Country’s vibrant arts community rivals that of much larger cities. Aside from annual visual art festivals such as ArtWalk and the Carr’s Landing Art Tour, several esteemed arts organizations and companies such as the Lake Country Art Gallery, The Barn Gallery, and State of the Art Rental are located in the district. Lake Country is also home to many artists and their studios and serves as the inspiration for many of their works. The District is also well-known for its prominent public art collection.

Lake Country Councillor Owen Dickie has observed ArtWalk’s impact on the community over the years. “The influence that Artwalk has had on Lake Country cannot be measured.  It has set a path for our community that not only includes, but embraces the arts.  This has offered Lake Country the opportunity to adopt a unique position that is recognized in the Okanagan Valley and British Columbia.”

ArtWalk may draw large crowds of visitors to the community, but what is even more extraordinary is its ability to unite the community. Lake Country community members support ArtWalk through corporate sponsorships, in-kind donations, music sponsors, and a massive volunteer force. From big projects like putting up pedestrian gates and attending year-round planning committee meetings, to the small details such as making theme props, the festival runs in thanks to the dedication and generosity of the locals. In the same spirit of giving, proceeds from ArtWalk are reinvested back into the Lake Country arts community.

This spirit, which some refer to as the ‘magic of ArtWalk’ just may be the secret to the festival’s continued success. ArtWalk 2013 is sure to be another winner, with several special birthday-related events added to a weekend jam-packed with entertainment.

“We’re thrilled that Lake Country’s ArtWalk is celebrating its 20th year this September!” says Lake Country Mayor James Baker.  “ArtWalk is a terrific introduction to a large variety of art forms and is the largest community arts festival in the Okanagan.  What better testimony could there be to the outstanding quality of art in a community than to host such a well-attended event.”   

The 20th annual Lake Country ArtWalk takes place on September 7th and 8th from 10am – 5pm at Lake Country Community Complex (10241 Bottom Wood Lake Road, Lake Country). Opening ceremonies & birthday cake Saturday at 9:30am. Admission to ArtWalk is a toonie.


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Twitter: @LCArtWalk


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