December 2, 2016
Artists spring up on the Gulf Islands, in the Georgia Strait, between Vancouver/Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island like flowers spring up out of the group and bloom in a wide range of colours.
Many established visual artists settle in the glorious Gulf Islands when they have made it. Others discover their inner artists when they move to the islands in retirement or for some other reason.
Life drawing groups thrive. I know because I modeled for those groups for over a decade when I lived on Salt Spring Island.
These artists sometimes display their art in group shows that represent the group they are in or artists invite each other to join together in order to launch a show that might be less expensive to do (ie hall rental) in numbers than as a lone artist.
On the Pender Islands, I noticed, perhaps more than on the other gulf islands, the art shows are often given interesting names to lure, I assume, people who might not attend if the shows were called Art 101 or Famous Artists or Pender Islands Artists or something mundane like that.
In the following article, I wrote about a ‘group of seven’ artists which could very well have been a coincidence but perhaps not as everyone knows ‘The Group of Seven” was, and still is, a famous group of Ontario artists.
This is the review:
Gulf Islands Driftwood – Pender Islands Edition
Wednesday, July 26, 2000
Rain and shine for group of seven show
by Tanya Lester
When Saturday dawned with overcast skies, the seven artists involved in Art Off The Fence thought it might be best to cancel the event at Joy McAughtrie’s rustic oceanfront place on South Pender.
Then people started streaming through the gate next to the bin of gigantic multi-hued pencil crayons. It was clear the show had to go on come rain or shine — which happened on Sunday, the second day of the unique art exhibit.
The even was like a garden party, where lemonade is served instead of martinis, and everyone is welcome.
Around 100 paintings were hung on the natural wood of the outbuildings, in the garden, on the main house, on easels and, as the art show’s name suggests, on fences.
It was quite an experience to look at the range of artists’ work. Just when I thought I had one of them pegged then another style by that same artist would appear before my eyes. Creativity is diverse, seemed to be the overall theme.
Other things I noticed were paintings honouring the island lifestyle and floral abundance. These were contrasted, though, with several pieces depicting buildings in foreign lands. “We live here but we also go out there,” the artists seemed to be saying through their work.
It was chance to really appreciate the humour in Frank Ducote’s work who, as the sole male representative, did the male sex proud.
He also contributed to the female sex with Domestic Goddess, complete with its tin grater loin “cloth” and is turning wheels on its butt.
Susan Taylor has a funny story about how she first met Domestic Goddess after dinner in Vancouver on night early in her relationship with Ducote. Perhaps the two artists supped on fish. The wooden and cutlery fish combination reoccurs in Ducote’s witty work.
Taylor’s art on the fence held surprises, too. Some of her ink and watercolour paintings proved that she does sometimes work on dry land.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Day was one. Tulip Bed in Bud and Tulip Bed in Full Bloom each included a single red-painted tulip among the black ink drawings of others. There is something tantalizing about this.
Stepping into McAughtrie’s Gourmet Weeds garden was a treat. There was Virginia’s Tulips by McAughtrie herself done in acrylics. Here Meditation was something else again with a mystical quality almost hovering around the piece. Late on I saw Churches Mexico that held a different quality yet again.
Corre Alice’s Bath Tub, with a woman’s legs pictured in an outdoor old-fashioned white tub and a view of the grass, trees and ocean, looked like a wonderful place to be.
I noticed as I walked around that Alice always seems to take a piece of something or someone to depict in her paintings. This is intriguing and makes me want to know more about her work.
M. Isabel Roberts has a way with faces. In her paintings they are like stylized caricatures that remind me of the theatre or something else. I cannot quite put my finger on it and this what makes her art interesting.
Judith Walker seemed the most prolific of the group of seven. (Is there a statement being made here about the famous Ontario Group of Seven with whom Emily Carr had a love-hate relationship?) What caught my eye immediately is how Walker uses colours to bring out another dimension. Something that looks like ocean waves is done in pastel oranges. A pineapple seemed dressed up in colours fit for a gala.
Wendy Monroe moves from places like Saturday Market in one picture to Orchard Blossoms in another. Everything is fodder for the artist’s brush.
Knowing I could never do justice to these artists’ work in a short review, I left, as I had come to the event, with the intent to explore more of their work in future writings. Among the masses of people who attended the two days, 34 purchased pieces from the artists, with every one in the group making sales.
While I was there musician Patrick Smith kept the air filled with art of a different kind. Over $800 of the sales from Art Off The Fence will be contributed to The Childrens’ Band Project. The project has been spearheaded by Smith so Pender Islands children will be able to get music instruction and play in a band….
Find out about other aspects of Tanya at her web: teareading.wordpress.com