Figures in action stalk the walls of the Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG), and portraits stare down at the viewer during the current exhibition that opened last weekend.
Tim McLaughlin's almost life size photographs dominate the smaller room. As a working artist, McLaughlin is also a graphic designer and a writer, who began to focus on photography in 2004.
Late in the summer of 2010 he launched into portrait photography. He blossomed quickly; the body of work that resulted from his first efforts is large, each picture realized, portraying the essence of the subject. Many of the portraits are of Sunshine Coast artists - Todd Clark looking moody, Nadina Tandy looking like Tina Fey, her sense of humour apparent, Maurice Spira aloof - or of performers: sound artist Giorgio Magnanensi, ethereal behind his beard, or Jean Pierre Makosso, laughing as usual. Why artists? Most of the people he knows personally are involved in the arts in some way, McLaughlin told Coast Reporter.
"Those who work in the arts immediately understand why you would like to make a portrait of them," he said. "They seem to understand (and are keen to collaborate in) the process of turning their presence into another kind of presence - a portrait."
Taking a photo is a great excuse to meet people, he added. He went to France on the strength of that idea and photographed a British painter now living there, Julian Merrow-Smith, and Craig Hanna, an artist working in Paris. The results can be found in a recently released hard cover book, Portraits Found and Taken (Eidetic Editions - available for sale at the GPAG's gift shop). Coast people are prominent, but the book includes portraits of strangers unearthed from thrift store photo albums and canisters of previously undeveloped film. The book also includes a preface by Stephen Osborne (aka Mandelbrot) anda series of fanciful, creative writings in which McLaughlin defines his portrait subjects in words as well as photos.
McLaughlin's work is in the Eve Smart room, a separate section of the larger gallery. This is also significant. McLaughlin played strings in the Sunshine Coast Community Orchestra with the late Eve Smart, benefactress of the gallery. He realized how happy he was, in his first show on the Coast, to be in the gallery named after her.
Jone Pane began painting figures in action in order to boost her own energy, she said. The walls are covered in brush stroke figures not unlike Chinese characters and they are moving through all kinds of martial arts, dancing, giggling, or performing tai chi.
"I'm not that good with language," she said, pointing at one of her paintings titled, It is Written. "This is my language," and she waves a hand at the many works.
The gallery has embraced the idea of action paintings for the month of August and has scheduled activities such as karate, NIA and fencing that are open to the public. Tomorrow, Aug. 10, the Coast Martial Arts Club shows a few of their moves and on Sunday, Paul Blakey demos Wild Goose Qigong. Pick up a brochure showing the other events that run until Sept. 1.
On Aug. 16 Marlene Lowden attempts to mesh art and yoga in an interesting two and a half-hour workshop designed to help you rediscover and liberate your creativity. (This is one of the few workshops with a fee. Contact the instructor at firstname.lastname@example.org). More about the gallery's activities can be found at: www.gibsonspublicartgallery.ca.