A black metal gateway, bearing the picture of a hummingbird about to drink from flowers, beside a yellow building

Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery: The 2022 Members Show 

An exquisite scene hangs outside the Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery for the 2022 Annual member’s Show. A hummingbird is depicted flying upward to sample the nectar from a cluster of flowers. Izabelle Perry’s piece is actually a gateway, which some members hope will become a permanent exhibit. The price is $2,500,   

Kristen Schofield Sweet agreed the gate is remarkable, but the membership would have to agree for the gallery to make an investment like that.   

“I’m pretty sure the gallery itself is not the only ones who are saying, ‘well, I wonder if we could afford to put that somewhere.’ Certainly that gate is probably going somewhere,” she explained.

“I was visiting at the gallery with some friends yesterday and we were sitting out on the picnic table.  Several people came to the show and without exception, each one stopped in front of that gate and said, ‘wow!’” 

Izabelle Perry’s gateway – Photo by Roy L Hales

Gerri Davis spoke about the Member’s show, which opened on Friday, August 12. 

“I was at the opening last night, of the Cortes Island Art Gallery in the Old Schoolhouse. It was well attended, the variety of paintings and the quality is amazing. I was here from about six to seven. There were about 30 people here and there were snacks and stuff outside. It was lovely.” 

Two of Davis’ pieces are in the show. 

She believes all the members present, when Cortes Currents visited the gallery, are displaying their art. 

Ayami Stryck was one of the four women who set up the show, “It’s nice to have a place that people are comfortable in to bring your pieces.”

Schofield-Sweet said 23 artists exhibited. 

“There’s a number of new artists this year, and that of itself is wonderful and remarkable. It is like the whole show gets an uplift of energy when you see work that you haven’t seen before.”

Paintings by Tanya Krahn and Dale Thomas – Photo by Kristen Schofield-Sweet

She proceeded to list some of them: Brooke Anderson,Tanya Krahn, Filipe Figueira, Leona Jensen, Izobel Perry, and Madhurima Braaten.  

There were also a number of artists exhibiting who had been with the gallery for a decade or so: Brigid Weiler, Donna Naven, Kathleen Pemberton, Lisa Gibbons, Oriane Lee Johnston, Brian Hayden and Kathleen Horne. 

Jane Newman also had a solo exhibition earlier this year.

“Another thing to notice is some of the artists who are not exhibiting this year, this is the first time since the gallery started that Carol Truman and Richard Truman have not had work in it. Carol in particular. I believe until this year has had a piece in every member’s show, as have I. We don’t have  any photographers this year.”

Schofield-Sweet’s Painting for question #23 – ‘Have you graduated?’ – Painting by Kristen Schofield-Sweet

Cortes Currents asked Schofield-Sweet about one of her pieces that was displayed beside a poem. 

She said this is part of a series that began in 2018. Schofield-Sweet has a superstition that before finishing a piece, she has to be working on a new one. When this did not occur for the first time in her adult life, she decided to paint the dreams recorded in her “Journey Oracle Divination Deck” more than 20 years earlier. Each card has a question that originated in a dream.

Schofield-Sweet decided, “I’ll paint these dreams, because I don’t have anything else to paint.” 

Ann Mortifee’s poem for question #23 ‘Have you graduated’ – Photo by Kristen Schofield-Sweet

She told her friend Ann Mortifee about the project, and that the title of the first painting would be “How safe is this Repair?” 

“So without my knowing it, she goes off and writes a poem whose title is ‘How safe is this repair?’ She hadn’t seen the painting and that’s a very important point. She just had that question. And we put the two together and they were remarkable how they spoke to each other. They were quite creepy actually, how they spoke to each other. And so we thought, Hey, why don’t we do this together?”

Mortifee and Schofield-Sweet both start from the title and do not look at each other’s work until they are both finished.

The painting hanging in this exhibition is number 23 of what will eventually be a collection of 47 matched poems and paintings originating from the questions in those dreams. 

Cortes Currents asked Schofield Sweet to identify some of the exhibition’s highlights. 

Artwork by Donna Naven, Donna Collins, Gerri Davis, Amy Robertson, Marion Cragg – Photo by Kristen Schofield-Sweet

She said that one of the most effectively arranged areas is the back corner where Donna Naven’s sculptures, Amy Robertson’s basket, Marion Cragg’s weaving, Dale Thomas’ lamp and pieces by Lisa Gibbons and Brooke Anderson are displayed.

“There’s some very unusual pieces in that corner. A kind of energy and creativity and uniqueness that would really capture the sense of vitality of the arts community here. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t equally exciting other areas, but in that particular arrangement, because it also has two and three dimensional work in it, you get a nice cross section of what folks are doing,” said Schofield-Sweet.

Paintings by Leona Jensen and Kathleen Pemberton – Photo by Kristen Schofield-Sweet

She also mentioned the wall where Leona Jensen, Kathleen Pemberton and Filipe Figueira are displayed.

“This is another area that has a remarkable kind of cross section of work. It possesses a kind of lineage of folk art and at the same time pieces that are really very sophisticated  and quite contemporary. It’s interesting to have those all together on the same wall,” observed Schofield-Sweet. 

“One of the things I’m going to talk about in my review is just the range of styles. We are not apparently a boringly homogenous group of folks here. There’s everything from collage to stone sculpture to oil painting. You hardly ever see oil painting anymore. It was wonderful to see Brooke Anderson’s work. It just is very sophisticated and in oils. Tanya Krahn has done some really unusual surface treatments of her work.”

She added, “I don’t know much about others in other island communities, but there is such an energy of attention and skill here. It’s really quite something.” 

Paintings by Filipe Figueira – Photo by Kristen Scofield-Sweet

If you want to hear more you are going to have to come to Kristen Schofield-Sweet’s walking tour of this exhibition at the Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery at 7 PM on Friday, August 19.

Top photo credit: Izabelle Perry’s Gateway on display outside the Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery – Photo by Roy L Hales

Sign-up for Cortes Currents email-out:

To receive an emailed catalogue of articles on Cortes Currents, send a (blank) email to subscribe to your desired frequency: