Writings from the Wall – Tumbleweed Gallery – On the Move

I recently had an opportunity to spend three days with Prema Harris of Tumbleweed Gallery in Penticton – why I was there for three days is another story but what I experienced was a wall-fly’s dream of observation. As Prema navigated a day of framing with interruptions of visitors, phone calls, and further framing requests I watched miscellaneous pieces of mat, glass and photographs be a catalyst for a gathering place of minds that was created over 20 plus years ago. Prema says this about her time in Penticton, “If one wants, they can have a very good life being engaged in the art and culture community.”

It was Prema and her family’s involvement with the art community that she attributes to the gallery’s success. Both her daughters were involved with various music programs and her husband Ron was involved in Kelowna’s O-Zone Festival. For many years Prema was the curriculum chair of the OSSA and she continues to work with Children’s Showcase. Not only did the gallery provide a rich life but all the connections brought customers to its door. In the days I spent at Prema’s I met such a diverse group of people and it was obvious that the framing customers had been coming for years. When a few details of a framing project was unresolved the customer would say, “I trust your judgement” and leave it to Prema. Throughout the years the gallery has transformed and relocated a number of times. From this experience the belief that we make our histories by walking in the present and adapting to change as gracefully as possible became apparent.

In 1974, at the age of 23, Prema the youngest of seven was the last of her family to emigrate from the Philippines. She had completed a BA in Sociology, with a Minor in Psychology before coming to Vancouver. While attending the first year  of her Fine Arts training at Langara College, she met her husband Ron. A year or so later they bought a farm in Cawston, BC where both of their daughters were born. Once Ron was working at the Summerland Research Station and both girls were immersed in music classes in Penticton they made the move to Penticton. In 1987 Prema began working at Payless Pictures and Custom Framing. The next year they bought the business and transitioned to a high quality framing shop and partnered with the Penticton Inn on Martin St to show artwork. In the 90’s they moved Tumbleweed to Front Street where the large space provided ample room for a variety of art openings.  For a time it also housed the Tumbleweed Nature Store. In 2004 Tumbleweed moved to its present location in the 200 block of Main St where Prema continued to act as a hub of ideas, possibilities and conversations. The gallery is on the move again. This time up to the 400 block on Main St, an emerging creative hub. Tumbleweed’s new location at 425 Main St will be open by March 12. The phone number and website for Tumbleweed remains the same: 250 492 7701 / www.tumbleweedgallery.ca

Keep an eye on oook event listings for future happenings at Tumbleweed.

Join Sarah Fahey here, twice a month for her feature “Writings from the Wall” as she explores the whys, the hows and the people behind art and culture organizations in Penticton, intertwining their paths with the larger socio-political conversation that is happening in the country today. If you are a part of an arts organization in Penticton and are interested in having a feature story written about your organization please send an email subject titled: oook.feature to Sarah at artfahey@hotmail.com.
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