The Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery 2022 season

The Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery’s 2022 Season kicks off at 6 PM on Friday, July 1, with Jane Newman’s solo exhibit ‘Ordinary Magic.’

This is also the first season in which the gallery has a manager. 

Bianca Lee, Manager of the Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery – submitted photo

Bianca Lee explained, “The gallery manager gets to see behind the scenes of the artists presenting their work and that’s kind of special. You go to the gallery and see everything in its finished state, but I get to actually see what happens as they’re setting everything up. I was doing that today as Jane Newman was bringing in all her works and deciding where things would go.”  

She is really looking forward to the return of Friday night receptions. 

“It’s very exciting for the artist, and for everyone to see the unveiling of their work. There’s a special energy about those nights. I’ll get to see all my neighbours again, who’ve all been in hiding for the last two years. It will spark a lot of interesting conversations and a lot of interesting connections with people,” said Lee.

“Sometimes you know somebody as an acquaintance and you have no idea the talent that they have, or the special interest that they have, or the interest that you might share and never have known about. So I’m looking forward to getting to know people on a deeper level.” 

One of the images from Jane Newman’s ‘Ordinary Magic

This will be the first reception in two years. 

“Now that we have been denied that opportunity, we’ll appreciate it in a new way,” chirped Lee. 

The food and beverages will be outside, where people can talk to the artists and socialize.

Lee believes this will also cut down on the number of people in the make viewing area and make it more intimate.

“You can go outside and talk to the artist and talk to friends and neighbours and go back in if you want to look at a piece again. I just think it expands the space a bit more.” 

One of Kira MacDuffee’s images for Sacred Dreamscapes

Ordinary Magic’ opens on Friday, July 1st. This show has been delayed for two years because of COVID. Jane Newman has been an artist for close to 40 years and has a huge collection to draw from. She uses found objects in her artwork, which will also be exhibited in the Cortes Museum’s ‘Art in the Garden’ series. 

Kira MacDuffee and Majie Lavergne will be bringing ‘Sacred Dreamscapes’ to the gallery on Friday, July 15th. McDuffee is a psychotherapist who lives on Cortes Island. Her friend Lavergne is a professional artist, who visits every summer. There is a lot of personal symbolism in their work.

 David Ellingsen’s show ‘Falling Boundaries’ opens on July 29th. His family has been on Cortes for generations and he lived here before moving to Victoria to pursue a career in photography. The theme of his show is the relationship between the land and our colonial past.

The Annual Members Show opens on August 12th. Every artist is invited to submit two pieces of art. 

 Selective Memory – Pigment ink on cotton rag (30×45 inches Edition of 5; 20×30 inches Edition of 7) – by David Ellingsen

“There’s no theme this year, so we’ll get a wide variety of work. That’s really a way to engage the membership and also encourage people who maybe don’t have enough work to do their own solo show, but they are able to share what they are working on and make connections with other artists in our community and get some encouragement and feedback,” said Lee.

Judith Williams show, ‘Water/Colour: a mirror of water’ opens on Friday, August 26th.

“This is a show about water. It has been 11 years in the making. Water from Bute Inlet was collected to paint with. There was a major landslide in November 2021. And what caused the landslide was interesting and horrifying. There are seven permits pending for water extraction and 18 hydroelectric systems. The paintings are minimalist and there’s a cabinet to engage people with rich historical background, including photographs” – Judith Williams 

“It’s a really thoughtful layered decade old examination/experience/ reflection of the one thing we all must have.” – Kristen Schofield Sweet.

What’s coming in the 2022 Annual Members Show? – Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash 

Though the Old Schoolhouse Gallery has been in operation for 26 years, up until now everything has been done by volunteers.

“They were wanting to step down from having to do all the day to day things and were in a position to hire a manager. That’s where I step in.  I just want to acknowledge Janet Turpin and Lynn Barker for just the incredible amount of hours that they put into keeping this gallery going after the founder, Norberto de la Vega, left the island,” explained Lee.

“Now that they have somebody to alleviate some of those tasks, they can focus on doing the things that they really enjoy, which is deciding who’s going to show in the gallery and doing their own art.”

Lee described herself as a support person, who will look after all of the administrative and maintenance work.

She came to Cortes Island 15 years ago to study organic agriculture at Linnaea Farm. Lee had recently graduated from UBC with a Liberal Arts degree and wanted some more hands-on practical experience. 

“I just sort of fell in love with the community and the natural environment here. It’s such a beautiful place, but also it has a very unique and close knit community.  A lot of artists live here, a lot of  really creative people  in a wide variety of contexts. That was something that really held my fascination.” 

Judith Williams will also be exhibiting in Lund, July 1-15, 2022.

Lee believes Cortes possesses the village life that a lot of people crave to experience. One example is the way the community responds when a disaster strikes, like someone’s house burning down. Lee experienced this collective caring herself when she gave birth to her youngest child.

“People came out of the woodwork to bring me meals, presents and that kind of thing.”

“Living on Cortes has given me an opportunity to do a lot of things that I would never otherwise have done.  I started out working at the Natural Food Co-op and moved on to working at the (former) Coastal Community Credit Union. Then I started working for Canada Post. I was the postmaster in Whaletown for two years and filled in for the postmaster in Mansons as well. I continue to work at the Medical Centre, in the office.”

Top image credit: “Out beyond words of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there” – Rumi (1207-1272) – Painting by Majie Lavergne

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