6 paintings hanging on walls

The Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery’s 2023 Exhibition Line-up

The Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery is looking forward to what may be their best season in years. 

“There’s a post COVID enthusiasm which was first evidenced by the submissions that we had that have resulted in  seven shows. There’s no hesitation about Covid rules, or what we should or shouldn’t do.  We’ve been a nonprofit for a year and a bit, and the new manager has had a year behind her.  Things feel more settled, and more focused on the magic of the shows than the behind the scenes business that the boards have to handle in any organization in a big time of change,” explained Oriane Lee Johnston (OLJ). 

“One thing that Islanders can look forward to is a full season, starting from the 9th of June.”  

Oriane Lee Johnston – submitted photo

“There will be a grand opening with ‘Between Heaven and Earth’ with the Thursday Afternoon Arts Collective. Seven artists have been meeting pre-pandemic in Lisa Gibbons studio every Thursday afternoon and have a body of work that we are all now going to see.”

“The last show closes on the 10th of September with the Annual Members Show.  That will be a grand finale where every Cortesian who fancies themselves an artist, or who is an artist, may submit a piece or two pieces for exhibition in the gallery.” 

CC: You have one more group show as well.

OLJ: “‘Island Time’ is the third show with Monica Nawrocki, Ester Strijbos, and Janny Thompson writing, ceramics and painting.That has been shown in Victoria as well. Now they’re bringing it here.” 

CC: And four solo exhibitions, 

OLJ: “We are really pleased that Naomi Cairns is returning. She was last at the gallery five years ago in 2018, with the gorgeous big water scapes then. Gallery goers can see  the evolution of her painting when the subject matter is similar, but there’s just a beautiful emergent quality to this new work that is all done in 2023. I’ve looked at them on her website.” 

“Then Hanness Gross has a show of gratitude the third week in July, which is his appreciation or offering to us for his seven decades of art making. There’ll be drawings, prints, etchings, painting watercolour, and that show is right now on at the Old Schoolhouse Art Centre in Qualicum, which is open just about every day and has had some fabulous reviews. So that’s a very special exhibition this summer.”

“Vijen Vijendren is doing ‘My Life In Three Chapters’ during the first two weekends of August. This is his art over three decades. The first section is when he was living abroad, So it’s place-based. The second chapter is his transitional time, returning to Canada – shifting, where is he going to live? The third chapter is Cortes, home and a subject dear to my heart – belonging.”  

“Then a new artist at the gallery, Christian Kennedy, is going to do a show at the end of August ‘Chroma,’ which is an exciting juxtaposition with the other shows. It’s bright and each piece relates to every other piece, and they’re configured in the gallery so that the gallery as a whole is one work of art.”

CC: What about the receptions, that is something the gallery was famous for prior to the pandemic. 

OLJ: “Now that the Art gallery is a nonprofit society, we have to follow the rules for such things as liquor licensing.  The gallery is going to supply wine for sale at the openings for which there’ll be a server. So we are back to pre-COVID, times of nibble foods provided by the artists, and then the wine for sale. Those will be outdoors under that canopy tent, and you can certainly wander in with your glass of wine if you like. So that’s quite a big draw, I think.” 

“Every second Friday night from the 9th of June until the 1st of September, there will be an opening reception at the gallery, with wine for sale, which the gallery will provide, and with some nibbles and snacks provided by the artists.”

CC: You mentioned something about the ages of the artists. 

OLJ: “It’s an orientation I have, being on the seniors end of the spectrum, to make sure there’s a range of people at different stages of life. This year: Naomi’s young and has kids, and so there’s some progression.”

CC: Is there anything else you’d like to mention? 

OLJ: “I would like to invite people to either renew or take out a membership, still only $10, which gallery goers can bring to the gallery in a cheque or cash, or send an e-transfer to schoolhouseartgallery@gmail.com.”

“We’ve been working diligently on trying to get internet at the gallery so that we could, at the very least, do e-transfers on the spot and  then bring in credit cards, debit cards, etc. It’s just not as simple as you’d think, so that is still in process.” 

“Further to the internet question, (in regard to purchasing artwork) if there’s no internet someone can go home, do the e-transfer, call the gallery, and the manager or the artist who’s sitting in the gallery can put the red sticker on.”

CC: When is the gallery open?  

OLJ: “Friday, 6 -9 PM; Saturdays and Sundays, 2 – 6 PM.” 

“For each show, the artists will be in attendance through the opening Friday night, Saturday and Sunday  of their show,  and generally are really happy to have conversations about their work.” 

Top photo credit: Some of the walls during the 2022 members show – Photo courtesy Kristen Schofield-Sweet

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: