An Interview With Jo Dixon:

We asked Jo a few questions to gain a peek into her thoughts on art, her passion for community, and what she hopes for Stumble Upon a Story.

Today I am honoured to introduce to you a guest blogger – our dear employee and friend, Jo Dixon, sharing about her upcoming art show in the orchard:

Sometimes in life we stumble into the most wonderful moments or places.

They are always brief and often we don’t realize what we are in the midst of until the moment is gone. We often miss the moment because we weren’t expecting it; like stumbling, it takes us unaware.  It is strange and foreign, a break from our regular pace.

I have had the privilege of a few of these breaks from my regular life pace. I tuck them away, keeping my eyes peeled for the next wonderful moment which will never come until it catches me unaware again.

Stumble Upon a Story, is an art experience that seeks to un-tuck one of those moments. A wonderful story or a beautiful image that once caught you off guard. The feeling of a familiar place or story mingled with the new or completely foreign. I hope Stumble Upon a Story at The BX Press becomes such a moment for some.

I can’t think of a more fitting and beautiful setting to stage my art show than at the Cidery. For me the Cidery has been one of those wonderful moments and places. We joke that I was hired at the Cidery because I could “tow a trailer and smile at the public”, the high bar set at the time for a two-day-a-week market position, not intended to last more than six to eight weeks. The job was suppose to be a brief stop on the way to finding another. However, thankfully I recognized that I had stumbled into the midst of a wonderful place and moment, and thankfully Missy kept finding work to keep me around.

It has been a profound privilege to work for Missy and Dave, and to witness their dedication and hard work to their family and orchard. I hold them both with the highest regard. Holding my art show at the Cidery allows me to share part of my story along side my art, because they have allowed me to share in their story and be part of the BX Press. This is all any artist can hope for, that their story joins with someone else’s story and that a connection can be made. The opportunity to have the Cidery, other artists, myself and participants collaborate together to make a brief unique moment in life is an opportunity I am very grateful for.

Hopefully, you can join us on the 23rd and stumble upon something wonderful for yourself.

– Jo

Missy: What is your background?
Jo: I have always had two sides to my background. On one side of the coin is my creative career, I am a scenic painter, and theatre designer. I studied theatre production as well as visual art teaching. On the other side is my community building career, I have been involved in a number of community building and engagement roles. I received my credentials as a minister and took training in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. I think when you find the particular passions you have it becomes your vocation to assemble those interests into a lifestyle. For everyone their vocation will grow to be the sum of who they are, what they love, and their opportunities.

Missy: Explain what Stumble upon a Story is.
Jo: Stumble Upon a Story is an art installation that plays with participants sense of what is familiar and what is completely foreign. It uses stories and themes that are well loved to make participants feel at home in the midst of a new experience. Participants can expect, a story walk, paintings, storytellers, music, art silent auction and a lovely stroll.

Stumble upon a Story is an art experience that has actually grown out of my time and life in Vernon. I had spent very little of my adult life outside of large urban centres and small town life was uncharted waters. I was curious to watch how people in Vernon navigate the dichotomy of the foreign and the familiar. Vernon is small enough that we feel very familiar with where everything is and who everyone is connected too. But, it is also large enough that we really don’t know the people on our street or haven’t been into that place yet. So I began to make whimsical story art bombings that played with the sense of space, strange or unusual things and the comfort of familiar stories and objects. This show is just a larger scale of those littler projects.

Missy: What role does an artist have in society?
Jo: I’m not sure I am enough of an authority on art or society to cover this question, or that I can do it justice in an answer short enough to keep people reading this blog post.

I think it is the role of an artist in society to direct focus, or rather to draw society’s focus towards a matter. I believe it has been every artists intention for others to notice what they have noticed. To see what may have been otherwise overlooked and consider a different perspective on what is. The best artists do it without you realizing you are, and change how we collectively see a matter.

Missy: What art do you most identify with?
Jo: Street Art. I identify with art that is intended for everyone, I guess because I can easily identify myself as part of everyone. Street art is meant for everyone to consider and see, no matter who you are. I have never been comfortable with identifying with a certain label. I have a hard time experiencing art that is not meant for you as much as it is for me.

Missy: What inspires you?
Jo: I am inspired by being part of people’s stories. The amazing privilege it is to have someone else be brave enough to let you into their life, to trust you. I am continually inspired by other people and their lives.

Missy: Why art?
Jo: Why Cider?
I think people are intended to be creative, we can’t help ourselves. We take what we have and the opportunities we have been given and try to use them to connect with others around us so they understand our personal story. Art is just one of the creative skills I have chosen to develop to do that. I don’t see what I do as different from what others do. Just like, you took a look at your life and saw apples, applied that opportunity and created the cidery. Your craft as a cider maker draws focus to your personal story and the story of a small family run orchard. Art is a skill I have an aptitude for and an opportunity to use. I guess it is what comes naturally and is practical.

Missy: What do you dislike about the art world?
Jo: I believe a better question is what do I find limiting about the art world? The answer is within the question. The art world is limited to the art world. I strongly believe that art is for everyone. Tools, such as the arts, that are for people to connect with other people should not be limited to a few. In my opinion any group that uses its creative abilities to make itself exclusive in anyway is only limiting its own potential growth and impact. Art should be for everyone in the world.

Missy: What is your dream project?
Jo: Collaboration! My dream is always to work with interesting, open, kindhearted people who want to understand each others stories. I hope someday to work internationally with countries rebuilding from trauma, using art and collaborating with local people to create experiences that bring understanding to conflicts and create hopeful solutions to the conflicts in our stories.

Missy: What do you hope your next chapter holds?
Jo: More. My next chapter is a little unclear at this point. My family and I are moving to Saint John New Brunswick. My four beautiful children will all be in school. I look forward to finding new ways of using art to connect with my new community. I can only hope for more of the wonderful things in my life.

Community Plum Cider
Wassail 2017