The Art Crawl has become a sophisticated and sumptuous feast for the senses, opening doors to an amazing variety of arts and artists on the Sunshine Coast. For a sample, I visited four artists working in four disciplines, living in four communities.
Quilt-maker Gail Hunt recently moved to Langdale. When you think of a quilt, chances are your mindís eye pictures a large tapestry of small squares, stitched and padded, in traditional designs and motifs: the log house, the empty barn, the buggy wheel. Although she references these traditions, her landscapes, streetscapes and homescapes are playful and unconventional, with personal content straight from the heart. Her subjects include a love of Canada, the earth as teacher and attachment to family. Hunt incorporates fabrics that are hand dyed, shibori dyed, shredded, hand and machine stitched and confetti quilted and that are photographed, painted, drawn and written upon.
One piece, called The Back Burner, has a mostly red dyed and stitched background, and the foreground is of an apron dyed in indigo (Hunt dyes her own fabrics whenever possible and has an infant dye garden on her property) with six charged burners ó quilted squares in vivid reds, purples and blues. The background framework for each square is a subtle rendering of traditional quilt motifs in muted shades of blues and reds. The six burners are flaming hot and represent the frustration of Huntís art being put aside for homemakerís duties for so many years.
My next stop was Roberts Creek to meet Dina Dune, who practices Japanese black ink painting. This 2,000-year-old art form known as sumi-e is ritually rooted in Zen Buddhism. The essence of the form is to capture the chi ó†or life energy ó of the object in total simplicity of a few flowing brush strokes. Art is most difficult to achieve when it is stripped to its essence. Sumi-e is not easy.
To prepare for her work, Dune lays her stone, ink block, paper and brush on a table, then gathers chi to herself with three wide arm movements circling the space above her, and three intentional breaths. Her hands are placed on her heart and dan tien, the seat of human energy, to concentrate the chi in mind, body and spirit. Dune bows to acknowledge the power and spirit of the tradition and transfers a few drops of water into the inkwell of her stone. This meditation/preparation can take up to 30 minutes.
Water is at last married to ink with brush, and a second dance of tai chi begins, with all components continually moving: body, arms, hands, breath, brush, ink and the strokes they make on a roll of rice paper.
Sometimes Dune will start with the traditional Chinese calligraphy character for the subject she has selected to paint. The rice paper scroll is unrolled as more and more strokes mark the paper, until at some point, Dune begins the first paintings of the subject she has selected.
ďToday what I am looking for is not beauty, but a form of connection with the whole,Ē she said. Although for her the outcome is not important any longer, her most recent paintings are breathtaking in their simplicity and life.
The Keay family ó Bill, Wanda and their two children Serena and Angela ó are known for their nature photographs. Bill has retired as staff photographer for Vancouver Sun after 35 years, and he and Wanda recently moved to Sechelt.
The family is dedicated to the preservation of wildlife and wild spaces. They intentionally plan their shoots to make as little impact as possible, ensure their guides are wildlife advocates and knowledgeable, and always give right of way in all things to the wildlife. This respect is evident in all their photographs.
First with the eldest and then with the youngest daughter, the family took two trips to photograph the spirit bears of northwest British Columbia. It was on the second trip that their youngest daughter, Angela, captured a moment that graces the cover of the familyís self-published coffee table book, Walk on the Wild Side with Keay Family Nature Photographers. Two white Kermode cubs are on a steep cliff bank with their black mother. One of the cubs has walked itself right under motherís front leg and paw to keep safe from falling. Itís a great photo and a tender family moment.
Since becoming Coasters, Wanda and Bill have been taking photographs at local nature spots, most notably Sargeants Bay and Smugglerís Cove.
The final stop on my mini-Crawl was to visit stone sculptor George Pratt in Secret Cove. Although he moved to the Coast six years ago, this will be his first exhibit in 10 years. Prattís works are sculpted out of Canadian stone: jade, granite, dolomite, marble, limestone and new stone he calls rainforest marble (found on the West Coast) and gunmetal granite (found on his Secret Cove property). The works are remarkable for their simplicity, line and energy.
One of his most impressive works, The Emperorís Sunrise, is carved from a single piece of Canadian jade that started out the size of my Chevy Aveo. On his website, you can watch his process as he carves a beautifully smooth and polished sun rising from pitted and rough hewn mountains that still show their tool marks. Jade especially reveals its beauty in large, smooth, uninterrupted spaces. Pratt knows this. Though this sun rising from the mountains is wrought from a stone weighing in at 10,000 pounds, it stays true to the lightness of traditional Chinese watercolour. It was a commissioned piece, on display outside the B.C. Pavilion at the Chinese Olympic Games before it returned to B.C. to its owners.
The Sunshine Coast is packed with gifted and talented artists. Do the Crawl.