Showing posts from 2008

Stave Falls Artist Group

Stave Falls Artist Group
The November Back Room show features work by twelve members of the Fraser Valley's Stave Falls Artist Group (SFAG). With one exception, a pen and ink sketch of Monet's House by Maria Daley, the twenty-eight other works are framed oil paintings ranging in price from $200 to closer to $2000. The subject matter sweeps from bucolic landscapes, some identified with West Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and Chilcotin place names, to beach and boating scenes, garden, pond hockey, and urban street scenes, still lifes, and figures -- window shoppers, boaters, lady, ballet dancer, bride. The level of skill is universally high and the choices of subject matter, although exhibiting great variety, are also universally appealing to this viewer. If I were forced to pick a favourite, it would probably be the bride portrait, but for no other reason than purely personal--the goddess allusion that for me all bride images evoke. The paintings are all beautiful and attractive, esp…

Bronze Sculpture

Bronze Sculpture

For the month of October, 2008, the Back Room showcases the work of Hope sculptor Henry Weaver. A plaster Neptune, dolphins, and a brass Vladimir greet you. In the Back Room, of the variety of pieces in bronze and plaster, the horses with mounted riders (Britiannicus/King Arthur, Andalusian) seem to catch the viewer's attention first. Perhaps it is the animal forms, the draught-horse detail, or the audacity, the very idea of imagining the mythic Brit as a real man in the costume of a specific era. Two boxers eye each other in the pause before the punch. A Greek and Persian warrior tableau evokes recovered bronzes of lost civilizations, yet the story is right out of a Hollywood epic. There is a commemorative plaque, a balletic Victory, and finally, three interesting portrait heads which make you want to linger, to circle, to nod, to breathe, Yes! Beautiful.

The very presence of bronze statuary seems somewhat intimidating (before any reference to price). There is so m…

The Joy of Play

The Joy of Play I am having so much fun playing with old and new photographs on my computer. I've started by trying to save shots I like that were not quite ready for prime time. Here are three: "Lynden Koi," "Notre Dame des Arbres," and "Water Under the Bridge".
All photos on Earthabridge are Copyright jmb; enjoy them, like flowers, and please do not take.

A Brush with Creation

A Brush With Creation

A Brush With Creation features two friends who have exhibited together in the Hope Arts Gallery Back Room for several years--Jenny Wolpert and Shirley Wotherspoon.

The first impression from the threshold of the room is awe, incredulity. So many pieces, so much work, new work, all completed since last year's show. Almost overwhelming. You tell yourself to focus: on this wall, then this wall, then this, and this, and this.

To your right, Shirley has two jewel-toned crazy-quilt inspired stitched fabric landscapes, "Mountain Lake", "Moons Up", with four large acrylic landscapes. Straight ahead, Jenny's two colourful quilted fabric hangings, "Legends of the West" and "Flight to Freedom" are featured, along with digital collage paintings beside oil paintings and encaustic paintings by Shirley. The end wall features a large mixed media painting of Jenny's, "Dancing to the Exit", its yellows repeating Shirley'…

Four Corners

Four Corners

The Back Room Show for August (2008) features four artists in at least as many different media. They have not exactly each claimed a corner, but each artist has definitely staked out her own territory. The beauty of the world, the "richness of our surroundings" inspires each artist.

Lona Munck's gentle watercolour, oil, and acrylic landscapes set a serene mood in the natural world. The delicate touch and calm muted colours are very appealing. The local, upper Fraser Valley, Agassiz/Harrison Lake scenes, including varied landscapes such as alpine, waterfalls, forest, glacier, river, fireweed, help celebrate the local. "My goal is to share with you, my joy in color, line, form, shape, and design." she says on her website www.freewebs.con/lonasviews

Diane MacKenzie's paintings are, for the most part, larger, which helps them capture viewer attention in an eclectic collection. The feature pastoral of contented dairy cows under a shady tree carries on…

Canyons of Glass

the purple cow i never saw
wandered concrete canyons of glass
gazed at Landscape Spirits in awe
gave the boulder pool a pass

In rivers the water you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes. So with time present. -- Leonardo da Vinci

Rural Life

Rural Life

As Ian Tyson says of Charlie Russell, "get her all down before she goes . . . you gotta get her all down cause she's bound to go." A similar sense of urgency underlies Linda Bishop's two dozen paintings in the new Back Room Show. The Rural Life--A Collection of Original Oils Depicting Life in the Country focuses on the creatures with which we live--chickens, sheep, cattle, and horses. There are no barns or factory farms for these animals. They live in a green world where you can see the swish of a long graceful tail, hear the bawl of a protesting cow, the scratch of chickens dancing, the jangle of harness. The cattle portraits especially, groups in a pasture or jostling for winter feed, individuals scratching on a favourite tree or resting in the shade, capture "personality", a "knowing" intelligence, curiosity, the uniqueness of individuals, the way in which they watch us as carefully as we watch them. One Bossie stretches into a welcom…

The Purple Cow

The Purple Cow
My project for this first summery weekend -- transforming the old cow. The blotchy lighting hides wrinkles and peeling underpaint. Co-Bossy greets visitors and subtly encourages them to use the handrails. She is an homage to a rural heritage, and an allusion to my first favourite poem--Gelett Burgess' "The Purple Cow": "I never saw a purple cow, / I never hope to see one. / But this I will say anyhow / I'd rather see than be one."

Earth Chi Show


Earth Chi

Earth Chi -- Photographer's Vision

In photography, as in life, I try to focus on what is here and not to fuss about what is not. The content of my images is all-important --subject, composition, colour, line, light, space, relationships, pattern, repetition, icons, process, concept, emotion, evocation. The camera is a simple tool helping me see; I haven't yet moved into the technology of lens or f-stops or computer tweaking. The art, I hope, is in the seeing. Every shot aims to celebrate the beauty in which we live, the beauty that is the CHI, the life force, coming and going. In the everyday, in natural abstractions, Chi assumes many forms and reveals itself in many ways. Rumi says: "The beauty you craved in things was always my glimmer seen through a veil. Turn around and see where beauty comes from!"
IN those in-between spaces, places where one realm--earth, water, fire, air--meets another, Chi is the link, the connection. Where elements meet and mix, Chi is the hov…

East to West Travels

East to West Travels: a Review

An abundance of Lora Armbruster paintings in oil and acrylics fill the Back Room at the Hope Arts Gallery. From miniatures a few centimetres in dimension to almost picture-window size (with a price range to match, from $20-something to $1200), these scenes express a passion for travel and a love of Canadian landscape. They move from Annapolis to Niagara Falls, through abandoned prairie homesteads, Alberta Hoo Doos, to fallen rainforest totems and west coast lighthouses, interspersed with scenes at a beach, boat rentals on a lake, a lazy morning river, and colourful flora and fauna--hydrangeas, larkspur, tomatoes, red peony, cow parsnip, orchid, mixed bouquets, a magnificent owl, hens, a herd of powerful buffalo, and watchful antelope alert amongst the hay bales.

Armbruster identifies one of her goals as "using harmonious colour to communicate something to the viewer--feelings, memories, and more." Some of the paintings go beyond representations o…

April--Flora and Fauna

Flora and Fauna

A curvaceous slash of hot pink feathers greets you as you step into the room, the boa in its own way, with colour and natural medium, both separating and uniting the work of two painters, Sharon Blythe and J'nia Fowler, sharing the exhibition space with theirFlora and Fauna.

Sharon's bold and exuberant "phat fairies" frolic in a martini glass, lounge in the pink luxury of petals in "Sleepy Afternoon" and "Catching a Few Rays". Her exquisite watercolour flora--lilies, hydrangea, thistle, grapes, as well as the matted paintings of bamboo and exotic birds--are a Canadian fusion, extrapolating upon the single-stroke Chinese brush painting style. Greeting cards of Sharon's work make her art accessible to everyone.

The flora theme repeats in J'nia Fowler's colourful northern landscapes where Van Gogh meets the Group of Seven. In these fifteen new acrylic paintings, she captures stormy skies, snowscapes, light, sunset, but also m…

March--Recent Works

Recent Works

Delicate and Serene are my 'first impressions' of Lori Motokado's large watercolours on display in the Hope Arts Gallery. An old boat docked in Harrison lures me through the hallway tunnel. In the Backroom, a dozen more familiar scenes. Boats in Nelson and Steveston. A casual display of battered trunks at the Kilby Museum in Harrison Mills suggests travel and a time warp. A toy wagon, a tricycle evoke nostalgia for a childhood of long ago. Another tricycle, stashed in the Kettle Valley Museum in Midway, is a streamlined rocket of the 1930s whose design is so fast and sleek and modern, it was way ahead of cool. The plant portraits—bamboo, an apple branch laden with blossoms, a frilled tulip bud, a blue balloon bursting to pop, all atop the palest suggestion of a wash—are images of transformation, capturing the moment when one thing becomes another.

Artifacts, horticulture, waterfronts are subjects and scenes which could be 'anywhere', yet the artist's…

February--Been There Done That

Been There Done That

Sheila Patzke’sBeen There Done That opens the Hope Arts Gallery Backroom Exhibits for 2008. Langley resident Patzke’s vibrant acrylics and watercolours, often simple sketches in bold colours on generous white space, with an emphasis on line and curl, exude energy and enthusiasm. The variety of subject matter--florals, critters, landscapes, seascapes, still life, and people, people, people—are loosely collected around a ‘hurdy-gurdy’ saloon girl theme of follies and fun. With Barbie-long legs and scandalous costumes, the girls of the dance stage and bistro settings evoke both Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas. Patzke has added to the appeal of her show, two dozen paintings ranging from seventy to under five hundred dollars, by offering smaller versions of her works on greeting cards. Attractive portfolio binders provide a retrospective of her career. Her artist’s statement says simply that her creativity is inspired by things she sees. The comments in the guest book confir…



Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland

One of the good things about belonging to a book club is reading a writer new to me. The prize in this category for last year (2007) goes to Douglas Coupland’s HEY NOSTRADAMUS! It was my first Douglas Coupland, a much-published Vancouver writer and artist. This is the same Douglas Coupland credited with coining the ‘Generation X’ label. His GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA has been waiting in my TO-READ stack for several months, and his JPod is currently a series on CBC. How have I missed Coupland, reading as I have in CanLit for several decades? That fact that he seems somehow to be outside the CanLit sphere is a sad comment on our Left Coast and how disconnected we often feel to life east of the Rockies.

Although you would not guess as much from the title, HEY NOSTRADAMUS! is set very particularly in Canada, specifically in North Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. What is even better is the way Coupland uses place for purposes of plot, character development, and theme. His setting …



The prompt for this first filing of 2008 is “average”. Aspiring to be average. It comes from that feeling of being somehow different, labeled the dreaded “eccentric”, somewhere between “off” (off centre) and “crazy”.

I was reading in a Globe & Mail at the coffee shop that the average Canadian reader read 34 books last year, 2007. That makes me almost “average”! The 36 books I read in 2007 means that my list is down by more than a dozen; my usual annual page-turning achievement hovers around 50. Why was this last year so “down” for me? Too busy? Too much TV? Both of the above, plus more days away from home than usual, and more days home but otherwise engaged. With the gift of guests. With joining the artists guild and all that goes with it--preparing photos to frame and hang, making cards to sell, prep for workshops and craft sale, attending meetings and openings. The second half of my year included a fascinating writing project, and, a new experience for me, hosting an inter…