Artist Katie Kidwell sits among some of the paintings to be displayed at the Parkside Gallery starting Sept. 15. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Birds flock to Parkside Gallery

Paintings free to a good home

Birds have been ever present through artist Katie Kidwell’s life. Now those birds are flocking to the Parkside Art Gallery, where Kidwell will be presenting her interactive art show “The Little Birds that Fly,” starting Sept. 15.

The birds almost flit and fly around the gallery, while still encased in their picture frames. Interspersed with the paintings are poetry, stories and songs — designed to be both read or listened to via headphones while in the gallery.

Colouring sheets will be free to doodle on, or take home and bring back to display as well.

When the visitor enters the gallery they’ll follow the path of the “dove of peace” up the stairs, where they’ll be greeted by the chorus to “Now’s the Time” a song written by Kidwell for Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Kidwell says her art ranges from realism to abstract realism and covers a variety of mediums.

“I think there is something for everyone that way,” she says.

“Realism is like truth and beauty. The form is truth and beauty but the abstract is the power in the potential. You know, if you can get those two together then I think you have a real bird. But as artists, we have to present something and so I have.”

And it’s the birds that draw the show together.

“I was out at Howard Lake last summer and I came to the realization that birds had been a big part of my life and I hadn’t realized it.”

In the process of writing an essay about “the anatomy of an art show” she tested the formula on herself — “I thought oh my God, I have a show.”

“For me, it’s not a hard stretch to think that paintings and poetry and music and stories can all go together, but when I started to put it together it was like, ‘Okay, how do you present poetry in a gallery.’”

The process took Kitwell approximately a year to put together.

“I had a lot of fun with it,” she says.

“As I was making these lists I thought, ‘Oh, I have this poem,’ or ‘Oh, I forgot about this story,’ or I could use this painting. I thought wow. Birds have been following me all my life. I’ve been following the birds.”

Stories, approximately half a page each, tell of Kidwell’s life at “Porridge Forest,” what she named her home, because of the birds that have their babies there in the spring.

“All the mush and gruel and worms and bugs that are there. In the stories, people will see how that all came about and how we moved there and how I just became aware of all these birds. My grandmother said when I was young, to follow my nose and then sometimes she would laugh at me and say, ‘or beak.’ It was stuff like that that I started to re-remember.”

Unique to Kidwell’s show will be “free to a good home.” Of the over 60 pieces in the show, Kidwell says there are only 14 that need to come home with her.

“People will be able, if they see something they want to care for, they can just put in the ballot box their contact info and their name and the piece they are interested in and why.”

From the ballots, Kidwell will determine who to give the paintings to. She says the idea came when she was reading an old article about art galleries and the practice of charging.

“I distinctly heard a little voice inside me say I’d rather give my paintings to a good home.”

She followed her intuition.

“I think the free to a good home changes it for everyone,” she says. “You might see something that you’d like and it’s not a matter of money or this or that. It’s a one time deal. I won’t say I’ll do it again, but I’ve always found when that little voice gives you your marching orders you better listen because it means something.

“Maybe it’s a balancing of the books. I’ve lived in this area ever since I was nine and I have received a lot. I would not be the creative person that I am if I hadn’t had the Cariboo landscape to live and be inspired in, so it’s giving back.”

Kidwell’s background is in music and performing, however, art has always been a side interest.

“Music is very ethereal. It only exists when you are listening, whereas I found with painting it was therapy for me. I could do something and it was finished. It was there. So I was always painting on the side.”

Kidwell will do live performances of her songs every Thursday at 10 a.m., as well as during the opening reception.

The exhibit runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 13. at the Parkside Gallery.

“I’m excited for people to come to the gallery and have a good experience.”

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