Canadian Art in BC’s Capital
The Canadian art gallery landscape is vast, diverse, and reflects the interests and loves of the art collectors in each region. The centre of the Canadian Art World has always been Toronto, but this is shifting with the galleries in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Vancouver becoming serious contenders for Canada’s art loving obsessions.
But what about Vancouver Island? That westernmost haven of outdoors loving, nature appreciating, and the Island life loving set?
Growing up on Vancouver Island was an endless adventure spent exploring beaches, lakes and forests. It is a place that was, and remains, a bit disconnected from the rest of Canada, a biosphere all its own. Many who were born on this island leave for bigger salaries and more opportunity in cities like Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto. Some have migrated to areas where the cost of living is so appealing that they are willing to swallow the long, cold winters of the ‘Great White North’. A few have trekked across the border hoping to make it big in the big US cities of New York, Chicago and Portland.
My career as a visual artist began as soon as I picked up a handful of earth, blossomed in high school art class, and given fuel to start my journey as a professional in college. For the past 11 years I have been fortunate enough to work full-time as a professional visual artist, traveling across Canada-land learning everything I could about the art galleries, artist-run centres, commercial galleries and public galleries across the country. I am a painter who has managed to make a living as an independent self-representing artist, with the exception of my public gallery exhibitions, which allow me to keep a connection with the Canadian Art world.
I never left Vancouver Island, the home to one of Canada’s most famous historical painters Emily Carr, and thanks to the Internet and my ability to travel at a moment’s notice, I have managed to make a career on this Island in a bubble. I guess in some ways I see myself as an ambassador of ‘my island’ and the artists and people that make their living here in Victoria, BC. I have successfully built a Canada-wide following of collectors, without formal gallery representation.
It can be challenging to get people to hop on that ferry from mainland Vancouver and venture to Vancouver Island, where you can also fly to from Vancouver Harbour and absorb the beauty of our biosphere. Victoria has some great art galleries to explore, here are five of my favourite galleries in Victoria BC. As for my work, it can be seen in the public galleries I show with across Canada, or by appointment in my private studio, when you visit beautiful Vancouver Island.
West End Gallery – image Blu Smith, Victoria BC
West End Gallery is a family owned and operated art gallery, specializing in Canadian art since 1975, in Victoria BC.
Madrona Gallery – image Guthrie Gloag, BC
Madrona Gallery is a contemporary and historic fine art gallery located in downtown Victoria. The gallery exhibits work from Canadian Masters such as Emily Carr, the Group of Seven, J.W. Morrice, E. J Hughes and their contemporaries; art from established and emerging Canadian artists. The gallery also exhibits a world-class collection of Inuit carvings, drawings and prints.
Winchester Galleries – image Joe Coffey
Fine art dealers of Canadian, American and international art. For over 35 years, Winchester Galleries has held important exhibitions and built private collections for clients in Canada and worldwide.
Alcheringa Gallery – image George Littlechild
Alcheringa is an Aboriginal Australian word for the Dreamtime, the mythical time of creation, when the world and all living creatures were sung into existence. The mandate of the gallery is to create a following for the work of individual aboriginal artists in the fine art market in Canada and abroad.
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) image: Emily Carr
When it first opened in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibited art in the historic 1889 mansion that is now adjacent to its seven modern galleries. With almost 20,000 works of art including a large collection of works by Emily Carr, the Art Gallery has the largest public collection in BC and remains a big part of Victoria’s arts community.
Art in Victoria is much more than what can be seen in the galleries, and in my next post I will share my favourite places for eclectic art and experiences in the capital city known for it’s gardens.