The annual Friends of the Gallery exhibition by the Sunshine Coast Arts Council has assembled a record-breaking number of contributing artists for an expansive showcase of local creativity.
The collection of 103 paintings, photographs, sculptures and multimedia works opened to the public during a public reception at the Arts Centre in Sechelt on Jan. 6.
For the first time, some council members submitted items conforming to a specific theme. Director and curator Sadira Rodrigues chose the theme “The Weather,” inspired by Allyson Clay’s wood relief print, Weather Ouch.
Arts Council chair Ray Niebergall, who himself displayed a ceramic vase titled Caste, officially opened the show. “Here we see individual expressions of the imagination,” Niebergall said. “As artists, our responsibility has always been to the question of how to interpret life.”
Each member of the Arts Council was invited to contribute one piece. Over a third of the Council’s active membership are participating as exhibitors.
“There are three things that we seem to do really well here on the Sunshine Coast,” observed painter Brett Jasch. “Restoring cars, brewing, and creativity.” In Jasch’s watercolour Raven King, the eponymous bird affects a regal air, bloody prey at its feet.
Framed works are complemented by an array of three-dimensional submissions. Alan Sirulnikoff’s Peace — an assemblage of hospital masks in the shape of a peace symbol — blurs the lines between bas-relief and textile. In another nod to the medical establishment, Courtney Galloway’s Take What You Are Given presents a mosaic of prescription pill containers, an oversized capsule gripped in the teeth of a pink-furred predator.
Gordon Halloran’s The Weather Report is a short video that envelops hazy characters in a thick snowfall, accentuated by sounds of nature. “Make sure you watch it from the beginning to the end,” Halloran advised.
A delicate driftwood bench by Kevan Alden (Washed Ashore) bears an abstruse warning: “Please do not sit.” Across the gallery, an intricately carved kneeler and grille by Matthew James (Sacral Sanctum) is accompanied by a handwritten invitation: “Feel free to confess.”
“I think the Sunshine Coast has the highest per capita number of artists anywhere,” said Eric Miller, the Arts Council manager. “It’s not just about the numbers, though. There’s a real level of dedication and mastery, and a wide range of subject matter and media approaches that are reflected here. These are windows into all of the studios and houses that are tucked away in the forest that you just don’t get to see until the artists come out to an event like this.”
Sunshine Coast settings make occasional appearances, as in Claude Perreault’s oil landscape Gospel Rock (View From). Bruce Edwards’s acrylic Snow Show, Roberts Creek depicts snow-laden greenery lining a frozen path to the sea. In Lynda Manson’s Lightning Strikes Davis Bay, the pier’s stolid pilings bear witness to iridescent bolts.
There are glimpses of humour. Linda May Henri’s Sexy Corn is a view in acrylic of a long-limbed cob turning up her husk to reveal a tantalizing patch of thigh. Meanwhile, somber works like Cornelia Van Berkel’s Life, Wisdom and Spiritual Nourishment (a timeworn totem pole) and David Kilpatrick’s Remember to Dance (portraits woven into a filigreed dreamcatcher) show Indigenous influences in West Coast art.
Friends of the Gallery remains on display at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt until Feb. 4. Visit sunshinecoastartscouncil.com for details.