As in many areas, there was a strong anti-immigration sentiment in the South Okanagan in the 1920s, reflected in these ads from the era. Courtesy Penticton Museum.

Penticton Art Gallery explores racism

International call for artists to contribute

When you think of racism, do you think it was conquered in the 1960s civil right movement? Or do you shake your head sadly at the evidence that it is still alive and thriving in our new online world?

The Penticton Art Gallery is opening up the conversation about the resurgence of racism and xenophobia with “eRacism,” an exhibition starting at the gallery in July.

Curator Paul Crawford was inspired, in part, by examples of historical racism in Penticton and the South Okanagan. He displays ads and news stories from the 1920s: “Keep Penticton White; We Want White Fruit Packers; Another Chinaman is given ticket and told to leave Oliver.”

“What is the legacy of that?” Crawford asks. “Statistically, the Okanagan Valley is one of the whitest, least immigrated part of Canada. We’re a lot poorer for it.”

Crawford recalls being in high school and learning about the rise of fascism in the early 20th Century, asking himself how people could be so blind to what was going on.

“I look around now and it’s the same thing. The rhetoric is the same. I am amazed at the apathy in society in general.”

Crawford said it’s incredible how successful the current U.S. administration and our former administration here in Canada have used race as a political tool to not only divide people nation but to unite their parties.

“I don’t think we got here by mistake,” said Crawford. Some, he questioned, might suggest the current atmosphere has given racism a free licence to come out into the open.

“I think if there is going to be had, I think it is going to come from the artists,” said Crawford, noting that a number of musicians are already pushing back. “Cultural change has always been led by the artists throughout history. But I feel we have become far too complacent in our society.”

Like the gallery’s recent show Ipseity, which explored gender identity and sexuality, Crawford hopes the eRacism show gets people talking.

“I hope it maybe mobilizes the arts community. I would like to think that artists feel they have a voice, a vehicle and a tool that they can use to have us look at ourselves, to hold a mirror up to society,” said Crawford. “I hope we can get back to that, we should all have an opportunity everyday to question.”

The Penticton Art Gallery is inviting artists from across the globe to submit artworks in all media for eRacism July 6 and continues through Sept. 16

This exhibition is open to all artists working in any media and submissions will be juried based on the work but more importantly on the artist’s statement which will add further depth to the work and the community conversation. In addition to the physical exhibition, the Penticton Art Gallery create a virtual exhibition through our website that will remain as a permanent reminder of this exhibition.

Please send your submissions and proposals (including a photo or media file of the work, your artist statement and current biography and C.V.) by Friday, June 15 to curator@pentictonartgallery.com. Selected works are to be shipped to the Penticton Art Gallery by Friday, June 29.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

Festival planned for Easter weekend

Organizers preparing 10,000 eggs for hunt at Summerland’s Easter Egg-stravaganza

Behind the mask of the South Okanagan furries community

Penticton furries community member said it’s not a sexual thing

Summerland experiences effects of sudden warm temperatures

Water pools near sports fields; minor landslide affects Garnet Valley Road as snow melts

Crown drops one Vernon assault charge against Curtis Sagmoen

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will still stand trial on one count of assault causing bodily harm in December.

COLUMN: Awaiting the signs of spring

After a long winter, many are wondering when the cold season will be over

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Update: Highway 3 near Keremeos open to alternating traffic

Details scarce about collision that has closed Highway 3 west of Keremeos

Okanagan librarian delves into trio of titles

Book Talk: Dark Matter, Lincoln’s Dreams and The Jealous Kind

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Indigenous students recognized at ceremony at Okanagan College

The ceremony recognizes that students are getting an education while holding onto Indigenous background and teachings

Most Read