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GPAG community unites for wide-ranging Present Tense spectacle

A record-breaking number of artists are featured in the newly-opened Present Tense exhibition at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery.
A portion of the exhibiting artists gather during the opening of the Present Tense exhibition at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery.

A record-breaking number of artists are featured in the newly-opened Present Tense exhibition at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery. More than 125 members of the non-profit gallery contributed works for the annual show, which this year represents the gallery’s inaugural collaboration with the Purple Banner Art Tour. 

The Purple Banner Art Tour is a year-long initiative of the Coast Cultural Alliance that identifies studios and galleries — from Langdale to Lund — that welcome visitors. 

“In this exhibition you’ll find works in all different mediums,” said Carol Carr-Andersson, the art gallery’s vice president, during a crowded opening on June 29. “They include painting, photography, woodworking, prints, pottery, textiles, and so much more.” The latest edition of the Purple Banner Tour map guide was released in conjunction with the reception. 

The array of artworks includes unmistakable visions of Sunshine Coast landscapes and wildlife. An acrylic on birch panel by Edith Jakobs (Breeching Whale) pictures an orca surfacing in topaz-tinted waters, dwarfed by snow-capped peaks of the Coast mountain range. Janice McFegan’s Coopers Green was painted en pleine aire, and depicts the forest-wreathed Halfmoon Bay landmark in variegated shades of green. Laurie Machale, with her acrylic work Friendly Paddle, took inspiration from her experience with the Gibsons Paddle Club to show an outrigger canoe passing before a familiar hillside town, its roofs iridescent in morning sunshine.  

Even Beachcombers touchstone Molly’s Reach makes an appearance, in Tess Carter’s acrylic Fish & Chips: a bronzed nude figure, immersed in a stream teeming with crimson salmon, stands before the storied restaurant with arms outstretched like a medieval saint. 

Myron Jones’s watercolour Davis Bay #5 exists at the opposite end of the chromatic spectrum: using greys and crisp-lined geometries, the work leads the eye through layers of landscape from foreshore, past islets, and on to distant headlands. 

Many of the gallery’s recent solo exhibitors are included among the exhibition’s offerings, making it a nostalgic reprise for regular patrons. An untitled work by David Evanson — a seductive slab of smooth yellow cedar whose wave-like grain practically glows — is a few steps from Extinction by Tam Harrington, an assemblage of silver, tin and stainless steel objects shaped into a long-necked dodo. 

Such three-dimensional artworks are complemented by wearable textiles, such as Joan Bech’s L’Hibou et la Chouette, a luxuriant art scarf fashioned from merino wool and Japanese silk. (Appropriately, Jennie Tschoban’s knit Owl Pillow is situated nearby, as is Lori Lemay’s Wise Old, another textil owl portrait.) The hand-felted Sunflower Dress by Ursula Bentz, its length adorned with stalks and blossoms, provides a botanical counterpoint. 

Occasionally framed works defy two dimensions, as in Cornelia van Berkel’s Orcas Seen from the Beach at the Sunshine Coast. Sand, driftwood and shells project from van Berkel’s canvas, adding texture to the seascape. In Brian Baxter’s Small Thoughts: Worth Every Penny, copper coins cascade from an upturned pocketbook. Tzaddi Gordon, in her mixed-media piece Following Good Things, gleaned salient scraps from a block of typeset text: “By following / good things / another delight / made.” 

When the gallery decided to reschedule its members’ exhibition to the height of visitor season, the Coast Cultural Alliance recognized an opportunity for cooperation. “We’re just trying something new,” said CCA executive director Linda Williams. “Instead of doing a separate Purple Banner Launch, we thought we’d do a celebration, like we’ve started doing more with the Sunshine Coast Arts Council and collaborations there.” 

The Alliance is presently compiling its list of exhibiting studios for the annual Art Crawl, scheduled to take place October 18, 19 and 20. This year, artists on Gambier Island will join the fray; a shuttle will whisk visitors from the island waterfront to a hillside showcase. 

The 125+ works of Present Tense remain on display at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery until July 28.