From the gentle slope of a lush vineyard to the sensory explosion of new tastes in your glass, a visit to an emerging wine region offers plenty to write home about. Liquidity Wines in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, takes the sensory experience beyond the bucolic. Many wineries now offer exquisite dining and Liquidity is no different. Try the pan seared arctic char (raised nearby at Road 17, south of Oliver) paired with their internationally award-winning chardonnay. But what makes Liquidity stand out is their approach to art and its inclusion in the visitor experience.
Enter Tim Okamura.
Longtime collector and patron of the arts, Liquidity’s president Ian MacDonald likes to push boundaries. The winery (which Ian designed) invites people into a unique experience that fully engages one’s senses. More than a decade ago, Ian purchased The Lioness from Okamura and the painting has a place of prominence in the current exhibition titled My Music at Liquidity (showing Sept 9 – Oct 9, 2017).
Part exploration of fiercely feminine portraiture and part deconstruction of graffiti through abstraction and collage, Okamura’s body of work in this exhibition speaks to the tensions layered throughout our social construct and human relationships. In highlighting strong women of colour, at times suspending them over raw and unfinished key elements (Aphrodite), Okamura lends a voice to a population that often goes undocumented and unrecognized. In conversation he’s quick to redirect queries away from him as artist and toward the subjects as people, telling part of the story of their fortitude or perseverance in adversity. Often, the viewer is pulled from a place of comfort and led to one in which tension and their own personal unease is forefront.
Okamura has a storied biography, attending schools in Calgary and New York. Before reaching the level of professional artist, while living in Alberta he had a radio show (hip hop) and music is a significant influence in his life and art. Where some reflect esoterically of their craft, Okamura is pragmatic and sensible. He speaks of showing up to the studio every day, whether or not he wants to paint. Of pursuing the passion through all daily struggles, paying the rent, working a day job, and whatever else it takes to realize the vision.
The next phase for Okamura is into the world of abstract painting, which as someone who gravitates to such strong portrait work is something that pushes him to a place less comfortable. Initial paintings show an artist’s step into the unknown, with one foot in the familiar and another dangling on the precipice of uncertainty. It’s a series of transition, inner tension, and tentative exploration.
Back at Liquidity, MacDonald continues his quest on how to invite visitors into a new sensory experience. This current exhibition by Tim Okamura at Liquidity Wines is a prime example of how time and place can take a set path, splinter it, and force us onto a new journey when we least expect but desperately need it.