What happens when you decide to forgo a theme for an art exhibit?
You get an eclectic mix of paintings, jewelry and woodworking that might be challenging to install, but will add up to a compelling show.
At least, that’s what the organizers with VISUALS, the Squamish Valley Artists Society, discovered last week as they put together For the Love of Art, running at The Gallery at the Maury Young Arts Centre from Monday (Jan. 15) until Feb. 23.
“Previously we’ve given a theme that someone’s come up with and I think when that happens, sometimes it excludes people if they have exciting work that wouldn’t quite fit the theme — or if you don’t have time to make something brand new,” said Sarah Saunders, group show coordinator with VISUALS. “This time we thought we’d go with no theme, which we’ve never done before. Then someone said, ‘why don’t we call it For the Love of Art and we can put anything in?’”
The loose concept — meant to tap into the idea of art as “the visual language of love” — attracted around 13 artists who work in various mediums. They range from the wood art wall hangings by Kristy Hansen of Scandinavian Wolf Designs to well-known Squamish painter Toby Jaxon and even a handcrafted bench created by multidisciplinary artist Lenny Rubenovitch.
“What I really like about this one is it’s not just paintings,” Saunders said. “We have some more of our artists involved. We have Lenny who works with wood and a gorgeous bench from him. Scandinavian Wolf Designs does wood art. She calls it jewelry for the walls. We have some textiles there as well.”
The non-profit artist organization has been showing at the Whistler gallery for several years. While its based in Squamish, Saunders said they include artists from the entire Sea to Sky corridor.
“We’re quite a broad and diverse group,” she said. “I think it’s reflected in the diversity of the art we’re showing up there.”
But those diverse offerings also meant a challenge for piecing the show together in The Gallery. “It’s a time-consuming process — just trying to find where things fit,” Saunders said, with a laugh. “I really enjoy it… It’s interesting because they’re all so different, but there are some similarities. You can balance colour and size, but it was tricky.”
Saunders said the group enjoys working with Arts Whistler — and hosting a show in the resort town has benefits for artists too. “I think you get a totally different audience,” she said. “Squamish has grown ever since I’ve been here (in the last four years) and changed in that space of time. It’s probably less of a travel-through town than it used to be, but Whistler is different. You have lots of tourists visiting.”
On top of that, the show will offer the organization a chance to reach out to potential new members from across the corridor. “When you work as a collective there are so many more opportunities to get your work shown in the community,” Saunders said. “It’s a shared workload and it’s a great, dynamic group to work with.”
Catch the exhibit opening on Tuesday (Jan. 16) from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
For more information in VISUALS visit squamishvisuals.com.