Tom Schmidt’s Just Thinkin, sculpted from Carmanah marble. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Tom Schmidt’s Just Thinkin, sculpted from Carmanah marble. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Art takes over Alberni Valley Museum for latest exhibit

Artists examine their personal sense of place in unique show

MIKE YOUDS

Special to the News

Asked about their sense of place in the world, people sometimes relate to the landscape as a dominant force while others see themselves more in a cultural or spiritual context.

As landscapes go, the Island bears considerable influence in this measure of identity, which is why My Place, a regional juried art exhibition, offers a refreshing variation on a popular theme.

The organizers, city residents and artists Robert Gunn and Chris Doman, invited artists across the region to submit works on the spaces they inhabit — physically, mentally or emotionally. Within a couple of months, they managed to engage 26 area artists working in a range of media in 26 different directions. Instead of sticking to safe, sentimental or romantic depictions of beauty and home, My Place ventures off the conventional path and into a wilderness of the human condition.

Translation: This is not your run-of-the mill art exhibition.

That’s not to suggest there aren’t some stunning landscapes in the show and sale, Jillian Mayne’s Backwater Cathedral and Paul Jorgenson’s Village of Stars, both acrylics on canvas, among them. They hold their own alongside abstract expressionist marble sculptures by Tom Schmidt and Connie Watts’ acrylic on canvas, Connectivity, rooted in Indigenous symbol and tradition.

Works by Arthur Lismer, Emily Carr and George Clutesi — on loan from the arts council’s permanent collection — serve to ground the show in a sense of the local with their expressions of place during the 20th century, a different world.

Gunn explained to a packed gallery on opening night that the idea of My Place arose before they had any space in which to hold it.

“Lo and behold there was a six-week blank spot for this gallery,” he said.

All who submitted works were included in the show. Adjudication had more to do with the relationship between the works and the artists’ statements, Doman said. Several of the artists made it to the opening.

“If you folks hadn’t been brave enough to submit something for a theme show — and I know a lot of people resist that — we wouldn’t have had it,” said Jamie Morton, museum director. “And it came together really well.”

My Place continues through to July 14 in the Founder’s Gallery.