Gallery pivots to online exhibitions

GPAG.CA

Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) has decided the show must go on – at least digitally. 

The gallery had planned to mount a 24-day exhibit of works by Gibsons painter Cindy Riach and Vancouver sculptor Evan Broens, starting May 7. But the emergence of COVID-19 has forced the temporary closure of the Marine Drive building. 

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Instead, GPAG has launched the exhibit on www.gpag.ca, complete with biographies, artists’ statements, individual images of their works, and five-minute videos voiced by the artists commenting on their process and on pieces in the exhibits. 

Gibsons artist and GPAG board member Paula O’Brien has led a small team including gallery vice-president Ashley Sager, who are using this time to augment the digital skills of both volunteers and contributing artists. 

“I have to say that all the participants are stepping up a bit and learning the process of submitting their stuff in the manner that we’re requesting, sizing and labelling them properly,” O’Brien said in an interview. 

The Riach exhibit includes about 25 paintings on the theme of old work boats. The artist said that during a painting trip to Alert Bay in 2017, she “was struck by the colourful abstract quality of the boat hulls. They had multiple layers of colourful paint, scraped, gouged and peeling back decades of history… How to express this in my art?” What she came up with was a way of using wax and oil paint in an adaptation of a potters’ technique of glazing and then scraping back to reveal layers underneath. The technique is called sgraffito, which is what Riach has titled her show. 

“I am disappointed that the show is not real, or un-virtual, as they’re calling it,” Riach told Coast Reporter. “But I’m really grateful to Gibsons Public Art Gallery for making this effort to get something out there.” 

Broens’ exhibition, called Grammar of Bone, is a collection of work created over a five-year period. The pieces, Broens said, are inspired by trees planted in downtown areas otherwise occupied only by asphalt, concrete, and glass. “These trees are the ones that fight the hardest, captured, retained, and always pushing to strive on,” Broens writes. 

An added feature worth checking out on the GPAG website is a continually expanding collection called Creative Expression During Social Distancing. It’s made up of works by local artists on the theme of isolation, and more than two dozen have been contributed so far.

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