Arts centre’s current exhibit comes amid fresh renovations

Friends of the Gallery

The opening of the Sunshine Coast Arts Council’s first exhibition of 2020 coincides with completion of another handsome renovation phase at its Sechelt arts centre building, housing the Doris Crowston Gallery. 

The annual Friends of the Gallery (FOG) exhibit features more than 100 new works by local artists, and a shiny new floor – or one that at least looks freshly installed. The attractive, white polished surface, flecked with dark aggregate, is actually the floor that was originally laid during construction of the building in 1979. For decades, it has been hidden under broadloom that had long passed its best-before date. 

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“Aside from waxing the floor once a year to seal it, we’ll never have to replace it. It cost less than to replace the carpet,” curator and director Sadira Rodrigues told Coast Reporter. New concrete flooring has also been laid in the gallery’s main hallway, leading to the kitchen and studio and workshop areas at the back of the arts centre. Rodrigues said the flooring renovations were made possible by a grant from the Sunshine Coast Community Forest. Those monies will also fund installation this summer of a new roof, which will end years of carpet-staining leaks. Last year, the council put up new hanging hardware and white wall coverings over the raw wood that had been pitted with decades worth of nail holes. 

“It’s the 40th anniversary of the building,” Rodrigues said. “We want it to last for another 40 years at least.” 

The FOG exhibit itself, with 104 pieces – one per artist and all created in the past year – is one of the biggest the gallery has ever produced. “We ran out of space, we had to show some work down the hall,” Rodrigues told the dozens of attendees at the Jan. 12 opening reception. “I think that’s a fantastic sign of how vibrant our community is. It was an absolute pleasure to hang this exhibition and to get a sense of what’s happening in this community. There’s an extraordinary range of talent in this room.” 

In addition to paintings, pen-and-inks, and prints in various media, the exhibit also features fabric art, woodwork, pottery and even a booklet of photos and text – Jane Covernton’s thoughtful and attractive Little Handbook of Instructions for the End Times. 

Every panel in the gallery, which Rodrigues has hung masterfully according to theme, feel or colour palette, contains beautiful pieces, too many to list. The works range from those created by established professionals to new artists, like retired dentist Bert Smulders of Roberts Creek, who submitted a painstakingly and beautifully executed pastel-pencil rendering of a grizzly bear. It’s surprising to learn it was created by someone who only started painting in 2017. 

Smulders was surprised, too, and said he’d never have believed it if told three years ago “that I’d be standing here because I have a piece of art in the gallery with all the other local artists.” 

The FOG exhibit runs at the gallery until Feb. 3.

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