Leilani the Artist scores exhibit in the Big Apple

Squamish artist earns spot in group show at Chelsea gallery

Leilani the Artist (also known as Leilani Finch) is bringing a piece of the Sea to Sky corridor to Manhattan next month after she was invited to show her work in a Chelsea gallery.

The Agora Gallery saw her work online and contacted her to apply for an upcoming group exhibition. She was accepted and they selected pieces that will hang in an exhibit called Forms and Formalities from April 1 – 21.

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“It hasn’t really hit yet,” Finch said. “It is very exciting.”

The gallery chose “Howe Sound Cloudbreak” which depicts the view from The Chief, “Cox Bay Reflections” bringing the Tofino beach to life,

“Mount Garibaldi in Whistler,” which shows the peak of Garibaldi and “Stained Glass Trees” which transports the viewer into a lush, green forest. “I’m definitely a nature lover,” Finch said. “I love being outdoors. That’s partly why I moved to this area. I love rock climbing and skiing… I definitely mostly paint scenes from around here.”

Finch will be attending the gallery opening on April 7, though it will mean missing the opening of State of the ART — the art show at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival —where she will also have an exhibit. The goal, she said, is to keep building on her career until she can become a full-time artist.

“I’m always hoping to sell my work,” she said. “I don’t get attached to it in that way. My goal is to be a full-time artist. I want to take my art to the next level and start getting recognized in the high-end art circles. I don’t know much about that at the moment.”

It won’t be her first visit to the Big Apple; Finch went on an influential class trip there as part of a three-year graphic design and illustration program years ago. They visited all the big museums — from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Guggenheim — where they got an exclusive look at some very old watercolours that could only be exposed to light for a few minutes at a time.

“That’s partly why I don’t paint in watercolour,” she said. “Part of the reason I paint is because I feel like it’s the legacy I want to leave behind when I die and oils and acrylics last better. That’s why I paint on canvas as well.”

Finch has been slowly growing her art career over the last several years, with a series of small opportunities. She’s showed her work around the corridor at Bizarre Bazaar, various farmers’ markets and the Crystal Gallery, as well as several other businesses in Whistler.        

“I know it takes time and it won’t happen overnight,” she said. “I read an article on Dan Mangan (the Vancouver singer-songwriter) one time and he said, ‘it’s just a combination of doing lots of little things all the time and then eventually it starts to add up to something.’ People think a lot of musicians are an overnight success, but they’re not. They’ve been working really hard for years doing a lot of little things, driving all night and touring around and eventually they start getting bigger and bigger opportunities. I feel that’s starting to happen for me right now.”

On top of the upcoming art shows, Finch will be starting an art school in Squamish in May for students of all ages. “I want to pass on my knowledge,” she said. “Also, I do take inspiration from teaching and teaching makes you a better artist.”

To check out her work visit http://leilani-the-artist.myshopify.com.

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