Large urban centres like Vancouver and Victoria abound with art galleries on well travelled downtown streets. They make up part of the centre of swanky cultural districts. While there are art galleries of this type in the Okanagan, they are less common. A tourist around West Kelowna might believe that the arts are not as prolific here, but that is far from the truth. Many Okanagan artists operate galleries out of their homes, and over half of the galleries on the Visit Westside Studio Tour are home-operated. One of these galleries is AD LIB, run by Claudia Kargl. I drove up to her home on a scenic hillside to take a closer look.
AD LIB is unique in being a collaboration across time as well as generations. Claudia’s mother Ella Wald was a gifted and prolific painter. The mother-daughter team worked together to bring the dream of a shared gallery to fruition but Ella passed away before the venue opened. Claudia continues to show and sell her mother’s large stock of paintings, and it is clear that the space is still very much a partnership.
Ella’s oil paintings, all originals, range from large impressionistic landscapes to still lifes to portraits. Not all of Claudia’s photography is landscapes and macros of plants, though she readily admits that she inherited a fascination of the natural world from her parents. Architecture and design firms in Vancouver purchased prints of her work with Vancouver’s built environment. Some of her photography delves into the abstract as well, using lightboxes and textured glass to manipulate light into gorgeous kaleidoscopes. She also had a framed piece on hand that is a handmade collage of countless photographs assembled to create a wooded path. “That exists only in my imagination,” she said, as we looked at it from about ten feet away. From that distance the assemblage of branches and knots from many images looked like a single and very real landscape.
Claudia’s preferred medium is photography, and she ensures her prints are of the highest quality. She does not print large runs of her photographs, and often a photograph will only have one or two prints created. The prints use a variety of high quality paper stock for artistic effect, including metallic paper. The prints are finished with professional grade mattes and frames selected to match the unique quality of each image, and protected with conservation glass to prevent fading.
Though Claudia works with both film and digital cameras, she eschews digital image manipulation, and creates her finished product through careful use of light and shot composition.
The gallery reopened in May after a severe flood prompted an extensive redesign of AD LIB into a brighter and sleeker space. The gallery is also a music studio with two pianos. The gallery has been used for small concerts with up to 50 guests, and an outdoor space with a view is available as well. As if she wasn’t already talented enough, Claudia also bakes and plans to have complimentary treats for gallery visitors.
Claudia is working with the City of West Kelowna to develop photography courses for kids and adults. Keep an eye out for more information in the community as these programs are finalized!
Viewings at AD LIB are by appointment. Contact Claudia to set up a time to view the lovely pieces in this tucked away gem of the arts community.
3063 Bridlehill Drive
West Kelowna, BC
- Photos and words by Chris Munger