Anniversary at Gibsons gallery

When the current Art of Digital exhibition opened at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) last weekend, it was a special occasion for two reasons - the juried show featured a high standard of work from the 17 artists, and it also marked the fifth anniversary of this small gallery in Lower Gibsons.

Curator Bodhi Drope sought a high quality showcase for a contemporary art borne of the computer. When the show opened, he was highly satisfied with the results.

"I would suggest as the viewer moves about this exhibition," he wrote in his program notes, "they keep in mind that they are witnessing creative spirits exploring a new frontier."

Whether the artist began with an original painting or a photograph, each artwork was considerably altered or manipulated using colour adjustment, montages or collages, then printed with a digital printer.

Last Saturday, three judges, local artist Maurice Spira, Marc Kougel of Van-couver Photo Work-shops and award-winning photographer Michael Levin, selected three works for special merit. First place went to Katherine Inksetter for Urban Perspective, a collage depicting a floating figure.

The second place went to Tessa Rand, originally of Pender Harbour, for The Digital Faery, an eye-catching hologram in which a winged faery bears a distinct resemblance to the artist.

Third place went to Barbara Moustafa for Aerial View over Sweet Pepper City. Awards were given by show sponsor Christopher Royals of Tricera Imaging.

Viewers were asked to pick their favourite, and they selected Scott Bleakley's Peeter. Bleakley said his piece was a digital representation of his father-in-law's face, an artist who, until his retirement, painted nudes. Within the larger portrait of a man's face, hundreds of tiny photos depict nude and family images combined in a crosshatch of squares. The overall effect is optically challenging, and intriguing.

Other work is also outstanding: Diego Samper brings his preoccupation with physical topography to bear in a manipulated painting, Niska'a Cosmos. Eric Drane's Believe explores a persistent theme in his work, the alien flying saucer landing on familiar scenery.

"Five great years, 40 great exhibitions," said current GPAG president Patricia Drope.

The choice of a digital art show is particularly appropriate for the fifth anniversary, since the gallery's first full year, 2004, also featured a show of digital photography illustrating what was then considered to be cutting edge examples.

Bodhi Drope was behind the drive to found the gallery and was instrumental in organizing the first meeting in June, 2003. The gallery opened in August. About 250 memberships were sold initially, and it attracted more than 6,000 people in the first full year.

The gallery will host an anniversary event on Friday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. with a guest speaker and a wine and cheese reception. The Art of Digital exhibition will be on display until Oct. 6. The gallery is located downstairs at 287 Gower Point Rd. and is open Thursdays through Mondays.

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