An endangered Florida panther at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (photo: Joel Sartore)

See Incredible National Geographic Photos at Liquidity Winery

By Craig Moy

As if you needed more reason for a summer road trip B.C.’s wine country, one of the Okanagan’s premier vineyards offers another. From June 23 to September 3, Liquidity Winery is filling its property not only with exceptional chardonnays and pinot noirs, but amazing animal portraits by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore.

More than 50 images will be on display (and free to view) in Liquidity’s airy tasting room, bistro and outdoors on the vineyard grounds as part of Photo Ark. The exhibition is a component of National Geographic and Sartore’s broader, multi-year effort to document every species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries.

Likewise, Liquidity’s hosting of the travelling exhibition—it’ll be the only Canadian stop in 2018—is the result of a yearlong effort by winery owner Ian MacDonald. He saw the show last year at a U.S. museum and was immediately struck by its images and conservationist mission, and how that mission connected with Liquidity’s own.

“A great deal of our land is bordered by land that’s cared for by the Nature Trust of B.C. Their mission is to protect wild species’ habitat, and we work with them every year on a variety of initiatives,” MacDonald says. “So I thought the National Geographic exhibition was a natural extension of that. We want to get more people thinking about what we need to do for habitat preservation and species protection.”

MacDonald says that bringing the exhibition to Liquidity started off as a bit of a shot in the dark: he just cold called National Geographic’s offices. Eventually he connected with the right person and laid out his plans—and his winery’s credentials as a space for art.

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A mother koala with her joeys (one is adopted and one is her own offspring) at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital (photo: Joel Sartore)

“They’re used to working with big institutions in major cities,” MacDonald says. “But we were able to show them our space, and how we’ve presented artwork in the past, and talk to them about our mission, and the connection soon became clear.”

When its final images have been shot, the Photo Ark will be the largest single archive of studio-quality photographs of biodiversity ever assembled. The iconic portraits have been shown in major galleries and projected on monuments like the Empire State Building. At Liquidity, however, the viewing experience will be much more intimate.

“It really gets heartfelt when you’re looking at an image and then you read the description of the animal and it says something like, ‘This is the last remaining member of its species,’” MacDonald says.

“So the Photo Ark is meant to preserve a record for history, but hopefully it also makes people aware that we have to make serious changes to the way we live and the way we treat the natural world.”

The National Geographic Photo Ark is on display at Liquidity Winery from June 23 to September 3, 2018. AMA members save 10% on dining at the winery’s bistro.

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