Saturday, April 5, 2008

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 their Flora 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 movement, emotion, mood. Her brush strokes suggest rather than replicate; her trees would make a grapple-hook want to hug instead. As a viewer, you know you want one of these canvases; you just cannot decide which to pick. The rapid development of J'nia's style since her last exhibit has commentators insisting that we will all be saying "I knew her when . . . "

Flora and Fauna inhabits the Backroom of the Hope Arts Gallery, Hope, BC from April 1to April 28, 2008.

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 graceful captions locate them specifically, while at the same time expanding upon her inspiration—“to make the ordinary extraordinary”. Indeed, as the images capture and hold our attention, we identify with the battered luggage and the abandoned toys which have moved from function to fondly forgotten. We too will cycle through stages, ages, places of storage; we will live in memory, evoke nostalgia. This art helps us feel more fully aware and thus, more fully alive. Everyday objects become iconic; the light and colour, translucent, luminous, numinous. Focusing on the beauty in which we live, these paintings are elegiac in the best sense—a mourning for our lost selves, a celebration of the way we were, a recognition of what is to come, and hope, in the buds of spring.

Lori Motokado lives in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Her recent watercolours hang in the Hope Arts Gallery Back Room from March 1 to 28, 2008.

February--Been There Done That

Been There Done That

Sheila Patzke’s Been 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 confirm that people in the crowd attending the opening were inspired by what they saw. An invocation to spring, a celebration of life lived, of joy, Been There Done That is in the Backroom of the Hope Arts Gallery in Hope, BC, from February 1 to February 28, 2008.


Helen Humphreys. COVENTRY . HarperCollins, 2008. A story of Harriet and Maeve who meet at the beginning of WWI and reconnect the night Cov...