Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nicholas Vandergugten at the Fifty Fifty Arts Collective

Fabulous Fakes Art Show at Coast Collective Arts Centre

Federation of Canadian Artists, Victoria Chapter Fall Show at Goward House Gallery

Jennifer Olson

Goward House presents an Art Show and Sale by

The Federation of Canadian Artists Victoria Chapter
Show Hours: Weekdays 9am to 4pm
November 1 to 26, 2014

Artist Reception: 1:30 to 3:30
Sunday November 2

The Victoria Chapter, with 150 members from Sooke to the Gulf Islands, offers regular programs and workshops designed to raise artistic standards by stimulating participants to greater heights of achievement.

  Each year in the spring and fall, the Chapter holds a show juried by FCA signature members (those who have attained high standing in the Federation). Approximately 100 paintings are submitted, with one third to one half selected for the show. Jurors look for the "wow" factor, good composition, mastery of the artist's medium and technique, and originality of style. The result is a first class exhibition, varied in style and media, featuring the best works of 30 ~ 40 of the region's top artists

V.I.S.A. turns 10 exhibit and sale at Slide Room gallery

Andy Wooldridge and Haren Vakil at Winchester Gallery on Oak Bay

Andy Wooldridge

Haren Vakil

Winchester Galleries Oak Bay
Andy Wooldridge: Repeat Motifs
 Haren Vakil: Works on Paper
October 30 - November 26, 2014
Opening Reception with both artists in attendance:
Saturday, November 1, 1:00 - 5:00 pm.
Elizabeth Ely; harpist, Brooke Maxwell: Pianist

John Hartman at Winchester Gallery Modern

Winchester Modern, 758 Humboldt Street
John Hartman: Hong Kong & Shanghai
November 1 - November 29, 2014
Opening reception with artist in attendance:
Saturday, November 1, 2:00 - 4:00pm
Performance by the Victoria Society of Chinese Performing Arts.
Chinese pastries and Silk Road Tea.

Doug Gilbert at Metchosin Community House

Spectrum a gruop show at The Brentwood Bay Resort Gallery

Rodney Malham at Gage Gallery

Don Craig, Benoit Jansen-Raynaud and Matt Politano at Dales Gallery

Stealing Time

Don Craig, Benoit Jansen-Reynaud and Matt Politano

October 29 through November 26
Opening Reception Nov 4, 6-9pm

Dales Gallery is proud to present an unusual view of the world around us. Not content with capturing the world they see, artists Don Craig, Benoit Jansen-Reynaud and Matt Politano employ alternate exposure techniques to photograph motion and the passage of time, creating landscapes invisible to the human eye.

Stealing Time brings together three different but complementary ways of seeing – a collection of elegant enigmas that challenge our perceptions.

Silent Auction

Three works will be up for auction and the proceeds will be donated to Doctors without Borders. We invite you to drop by the Gallery in support of a worthy cause.

Dales Gallery and Framing Studio
Open Monday-Friday, 10-5
Saturday 11-4
Or by Appointment

Manon Elder and Richard Brownlee at Martin Batchelor Gallery

Monday, October 27, 2014

Godfrey Stephens: Wood Storms, Wild Canvas. By Philip Willey, Oct. 2014


You won’t find Godfrey Stephens representing Canada at the Venice Biennale. He’s a maverick, his work isn’t easily classified and he’s never had much time for the ‘official’ art world. Futurism, Art Deco, Sixties psychedelia, Emily Carr meets Picasso, skip all that arty stuff…let’s just say his work is a fusion of European and West Coast elements. He isn’t unaware of art history but you don’t find him networking at art openings. He has always been happier on West Coast beaches carving driftwood and hanging out in places like Gibson’s, Ahousat and Hot Springs Cove. Nowadays he can mostly be found working in his Esquimalt studio.

Godfrey Stephens has charted his own course. In spite of staying outside the ‘gallery system’ his work has found its way into many collections and public places around the world.

He was born in Duncan B.C. and spent time in James Bay, where he got to know Chief Mungo Martin and Tony Hunt, before his parents moved to Hollywood. Travel has been a major part of his life. He was part of the Beat Generation (though he doesn’t like being called a beatnik). I remember seeing a mural he did in the Beat Hotel, Paris in the Sixties that wouldn’t look out of place in Bean Around the World. He spent about three years in Greece and was among the first young seekers to be drawn to the spiritual mysteries of India travelling there overland at a time when many people in Eastern Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan had never seen a Westerner. He journeyed from Lahore to Calcutta, from Goa to Nepal, to the sadhus and the ghats of Benares, witnessing at first hand the Dance of Shiva.

He developed his distinctive style early and it has stayed consistent over time. His paintings are colourful, exuberant, full of life, movement, humour and hidden details. They often commemorate events in his life, places he’s been and people he’s met. And sailing of course in the many boats he’s built himself over the years.


Likewise his portraits start with line drawings onto which he builds using elements from the subject’s life. His portrait of the late lamented Michael Williams is a good example. Recognizable elements emerge and retreat from a maze of graceful flowing lines before the addition of colour. At first sight this approach appears purely instinctual but all the elements come together. There’s an underlying formality and unity of composition.


There is an erotic dimension to a lot of his carvings. The larger sculptures are part totem and part lingam suggesting a fusion of male and female forms that reveal the inner hidden vitality of the wood. A typical piece can be both rugged and refined. Constant reworking gives the surface a rich patina which adds to the mythic quality. First Nations themes combine with contemporary techniques to writhe upwards in unconstrained celebration of the life force. Two good examples of his large carvings stand in the lobby of the Times Colonist building.

Photo: Lloyd Kahn

Weeping Cedar Woman, created in 1984 in response to the proposed logging of Meares Island, makes a powerful statement about the effects of ‘progress’ on nature. A little too powerful for some members of the Tofino Municipal Council perhaps as the figure currently resides behind the community hall rather than in a more prominent public location.*


Stephen’s studio is a jumble. Energy emanates from boat parts, tools, figureheads and partly finished paintings. He starts them and puts them aside and takes them out later. The paintings are never finished he says. He’s always reworking them. Everything is in flux.

There’s real sense of freedom about Godfrey Stephens and his work. You can smell the cedar and hear the waves crashing. Looking at his paintings and carvings reminds us of the wild West Coast and the transitions that have occurred in his lifetime. Gone are the days when you could build a driftwood shack on Long Beach. Things are much more regulated now. Tofino has become a place of bed & breakfast, kayaking and latte drinking. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Times change. The ocean and the trees are still there.

Now finally there is a book. It’s full of photographs of boats, carvings, paintings and sketches all excellently reproduced. Godfrey is such a wild free spirit it’s hard for writers to pin him down. There is a foreword by art critic Robert Amos that hits the right note. Writer Peter Grant’s text fits the imagery perfectly and he manages to capture the elusive Godfrey Stephens ethos, no easy task. Publisher Gurdeep Stephens has done a superb job of putting it all together.

The book is a timely reminder of the untamed West Coast spirit and it puts Godfrey Stephens well on his way to becoming a legend.


* I just heard Tofino has agreed to put the statue in a field across from Strawberry Island. PW.