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Arts in review - part one

Year in Review
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Photo illustration by Valerie Durnin

Looking back at the year in arts and entertainment.

In the year 2012 more artists drew inspiration from nature than ever before, more local authors penned books than ever before and more polished professional performances reached Coast stages.   

Visual highlights: A hint of things to come took place in January when artist Tyler Gentry created an outdoor ice tree installation in a parking lot in Gibsons.

The annual January Friends of the Gallery show revealed the shapes and textures of nature in art.

In March, Sechelt's Gertrude Pacific depicted her love of her forest home in a retrospective show at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre's Doris Crowston Gallery.

Gibsons became part of a global experience when the first Pecha Kucha evening opened at the Arts Building in January. Each participant showed 20 images for 20 seconds each on whatever interested them. Fans took to the concept and one of the PK evenings to follow was held outdoors during the Synchronicity Festival in August.   

Chatelech Secondary School models wore gorgeously designed gowns in April in a fundraising variety show put together by students and designer Joanne Chiasson. Roberts Creek put on its inaugural arts festival in May with seven Creek venues participating. Visitors enjoyed music, art, film and hand crafted items over two days. The Ceramics on the Edge show in July displayed the juried work of Coast potters, both functional and creative.

August is always an action packed month for artists and this year the Power of Paint, a.k.a. Eleven Equal Artists, got together to show their new work at the Seaside Centre. On the same day, the Linwood Art Experience, a fundraiser for an outreach organization, took place in the home's fabulous gardens with a record number of artists participating.

One Gibsons Landing venue prepared for dramatic changes early in the year. The sounds of hammering and sawing came from the former Bank of Montreal building, soon to become the new accessible home of the Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG), thanks to a bequest from the late Eve Smart.

The volunteer organization opened their first show in November with a tribute to Leonard Cohen and crowds spilled out into the street on opening night.

Getting visitors out to view art was also the object of the Gibsons Landing Art Stroll in August. When Wendy Crumpler and Coralee Swaney put their creative heads together, they came up with Random Acts of Art — more than a hundred artists, amateur and experienced, expressed themselves during a show at two galleries.

The Fibreworks Gallery near Madeira Park was inspired by nature to show their fabric garments in Bloom Where You Are Planted. The September show followed a year of fibre art workshops, demonstrations and exhibits. Photographer Elaine Hunter opened her show of digital images of nature at the GPAG, and later in the year launched the second season of her performing arts and dance school in Halfmoon Bay.

The third annual Sunshine Coast Art Crawl in October was a resounding success with some artists and studios hosting as many as 350 visitors a day. Two unconventional artists, Heather Passmore and Donna Balma, saw their innovative work shown respectively at the Vancouver Art Gallery and at an American show of outsider art.

After five years with the SC Arts Council, executive director Frances Wasserlein left their employ with a promise to stay involved. Artist Sheila Page organized a show of young people's art and that exhibition closed the gallery's season.

Literary Lions: Many Coast writers brought their work to print last year starting with junior authors whose work was featured in Young Coastal Voices.

A few local artists were featured in a book published by Jane Richardson of Leighdon Gallery, while others wrote about their community as in Ray Phillip's story of Kleindale, Little Green Valley.

Raymond Eagle turned his self-published photos of Scotland into a coffee table book, while a B.C. regiment earned a historical writing award for its chronicle, titled Swift and Strong.

A writing group in Halfmoon Bay, with the help of author Anthea Penne and Roberts Creek publisher Paul Blakey, launched Halfmoon Rising, a collection of short stories. Sechelt's Terry Barker wore his heart on his sleeve in A Fine Romance, a poetry collection with artwork by his daughter.

Rosalie Boileau recounted her travel adventures, while Chuck Bertrand described his RCMP days in the Yukon. Writer and actor John Robertson published a book of his wartime experiences, both humorous and touching, in Trapped in Tunisia.  

Harbour Publishing had an excellent year, publishing many titles of local interest and scooping three prizes at the BC Book Awards in May.

Pender Harbour writers John Pass and Theresa Kishkan were honoured at the BC Book Awards with a win and a nomination respectively.

Andreas Schroeder of Roberts Creek was honoured in May with the Graeme Gibson Award by The Writers' Union of Canada.  

As the Festival of the Written Arts prepared for its 30th year, its founders, Betty Keller, Rosella Leslie, Gwen Southin and Maureen Foss, known as the Quintessential writers, drew on their memories of the festival's early days. The August festival included Shelagh Rogers from CBC, Charlotte Gill from Powell River and beloved author Wayson Choy.

The further adventures of Buddy, started in the teen book Summerwild, were continued in Ken Budd's latest, Fall Gently, while Ben Nuttall-Smith and Denise O'Brian found epiphanies in Secrets Kept/Secrets Told and The Prison Dance respectively.

On Gambier Island, Gloria Masse and Joley Switzer interviewed and photographed island women for a legacy calendar.

The Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives also honoured heritage when they brought many of their photos and archival recordings into the digital age with their Time Travel project.

Bill Terry wrote the second in his series of travels in search of the Himalayan blue poppy, Beyond Beautiful, and launched the book at the Botanical Gardens.

Jan DeGrass's first novel, Jazz with Ella, was launched in October at an Arts Centre gala event along with poetry authors Jancis Andrews and Kim Clark, and mystery writer Gwen Southin. The year closed with one of B.C.'s best sellers making waves on the Coast. Jackson Davies co-wrote Bruno and the Beach to celebrate 40 years of the popular TV show, The Beachcombers.   

Polished Performances: Coast performers gave audiences everything from vaudeville to dance extravaganzas.

The Year of the Dragon opened with the New Moon Society offering a look at Asian culture including drumming, Qi Gong and a potluck feast.

The well-known Jean Pierre Makosso danced his way into Canada finally receiving his residency permit, and he wrote his latest book of poetry in both English and French, Human Works.    

A comedy show at the Raven's Cry Theatre raised funds for the St. Mary's Hospital expansion, while more comedy delighted crowds when the Funtastics' vaudeville show, with Miss Berni G on music and Suzi Francis as director, opened at the Seniors' Centre.

Folks concerned about needy families on the Coast mounted a seven-hour extravaganza variety show in April, while DS Danse held a spring showcase of their dancers.

Mother's Day was celebrated in Sechelt by a group who recollected their maternal parents in narrative, directed by Louise Phillips.

The Source Dance Company mingled with local performers in May, while a dramatic dance piece, Skeleton Woman, choreographed by Lindsay Prentice, was performed in June.

The Coast Academy of Dance held their annual upbeat, popular recital in June.

When this year's Showcase of the Performing Arts (SOPA) opened at the Heritage Playhouse in July with a gala concert, the Driftwood Players presented two Woody Allen plays.

The Garlic & Music Festival at the Lions Park fielded some great performers, among them Pender Harbour's Joel Fafard and visiting musician Roy Forbes.

The Synchronicity Festival in August took their performance into the woods for a Rainforest Circus in which musicians and dancers created a totally original work. While Nikki Weber and family regaled audiences at Vancouver's Pacific National Exhibition, closer to home the Sechelt Arts Festival brought together several artistic mediums in a collaboration of dance, painting, music and sculpture.

The fall theatre season was successful with a Driftwood Players presentation of Mending Fences, a new group, iSaW Theatre, who mounted a production of Trojan Women, and Coast Community Productions who presented two short plays, 1959 Pink Thunderbird Convertible with director Daniel Tyrrell in a lead role.

Culture Days, put on by the District of Sechelt, was coordinated by Siobhan Smith, hired to promote arts and culture in the area.   

The Volunteer Excellence Awards presented in April honoured several arts supporters: Sue Milne for her work with several music societies, Linda Williams for her involvement with the Arts Council and Bob Hunt for his role in theatre.

The performance season closed with a fabulous, professional production of The Nutcracker that involved about 100 dancers and actors under the direction of Kathleen and David Holmes.

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