Elaine Watts

Display a present for community

Big and loud were Sophia Zang’s first thoughts when thinking of a way to attract people to the Arts Centre at its new location.

Big and loud were Sophia Zang’s first thoughts when thinking of a way to attract people to the Arts Centre at its new location.

The end result has been the Summerland Community Arts Council announcing their First Ever Art Installation,Presence/ts On Wharton Street, for the 29th Annual Festival of Lights.

An artist, originally from South Africa, Zang moved to Summerland in 2001, finding it a place where she could enjoy living.

“When my children were young I started with pottery,” she explained. “I enjoy gardening and I thought it was a nice extension of gardening, working in the clay. I’m from a farmer’s background. The soil has always been an interest for me.”

When she first arrived in Canada 20 years ago, she taught pottery in Flin Flon, Manitoba, and restarted their Potters Guild.

When Zang came to Summerland, she joined the Potters Guild here. She did shows and was among the first few artists to feature her work in Okanagan wineries.

For the last couple of years she has taken up painting, “just for fun.”

It was Zang’s good friend Elaine Watts who asked the question, “How are we going to get people to come to the new ArtsCentre, now that it is away from Main Street?” The question got Zang thinking.

“When I thought of big, I remembered there was an exhibit in Trout Creek in 2004. It was an installation done by Tancha Dickinson,” explained Zang. “She had a big apple bin with lights on it. It was one lonely box sitting in the middle of nowhere. She called it the gift.”

This memory inspired Zang to go even bigger and bolder. She suggested the idea of using several bins stacked together to depict large presents, with a few single bins as smaller presents, placing them on the green space outside the Arts Centre.Watts loved the idea.

The idea for the name of the installation followed and was because the Arts Centre now has its presence on Wharton Street and will draw people in by the installation of these presents.

wWith her creativity flowing, Zang didn’t stop there. As a way of leading people from Main Street to the Arts Centre, there will also be reindeer dragging more presents, set up all along the way.

This huge undertaking soon became somewhat of a community effort. A call for lights and reindeer went out and people and businesses responded.

“Everything we asked for, people said ‘yes,’” said Zang. “It was really nice.”

Glen Loveridge delivered the bins and helped to secure them in place, while willing to help decorate the installation were husbands and artists.

When it came to the loud part, Zang wondered how loud they could be for Light Up night.

“I have a wonderful friend Tracy Fehr who is a voice teacher. I’ve asked her to bring her students and they will come andsing for the first hour, (6 p.m. on Friday) and my good friend Kristine Nemirovski, accompanied by Ryan Schick, will sing the second hour, ( at 7:15 p.m.),” Zang said. “Everyone is donating their time for the evening.”

Zang also explained that now that the Arts Centre has the old library space to call its home, there is much work still to be done. At this point there is no gallery space. The Arts Council hopes to attain funding in the future in order to renovate and make the Centre really workable.

The Arts Council’s sale, Seasons Sparkles, has always proved to be one of Light Up’s main attractions, with hundreds of people coming to see and purchase art work done by Summerland’s artists. The hope is that people will find and support it once again this year. The sale will open at the Arts Centre at 5 pm on Friday night.

“So now we’ve done the big and we’ve done the loud and I hope it’s going to work,” said Zang. “It’s really for people to know, this is the Arts Centre. It’s still here, and the gift shop is still here. Everything is business as usual! I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic. We’ve spent a lot of hours on this and the volunteers have been just amazing.”