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Cowichan Valley is a haven for artistic expression

Cowichan Valley’s Fine Arts Show an artistic triumph with more events running through July
A cropped version of Kay Smillie’s Walking Woman Revisited, which won an award of excellence at the 2024 Cowichan Valley Fine Art Show. (photo Cowichan Calley Arts Council)

By Tim Collins

The largest non-juried art show on Vancouver Island, the Cowichan Valley Fine Art Show has proudly showcased both established and emerging artists since its beginning in 1971.

It’s still going strong and, according to Elizabeth Croft, executive director of the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, this year’s show is better than ever.

The show opened on May 9 and will run until June 4 at the CVAC Galleries inside the Cowichan Community Centre.

“The beauty of this show is that it is a non-juried event so it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase emerging artists,” said Croft. “It’s a fabulous way to support young artists, of course, but the artists in the show really represent the demographics of the entire Island.”

This year’s show contains the work of 140 artists and, although the non-juried format allows for all entries, the submissions have been evaluated by a talented and distinguished artistic jury to select the best of the submissions.

This year’s jury was comprised of Hwiemtun Roland, the cultural ambassador of the Cowichan Tribes, Professor Ellen McCluskey of Vancouver Island University, and accomplished artist Jason Gress.

After careful deliberation, the jury named Richard Gibson’s Aphrodite as the Best in Show with awards of excellence going to Kaye Smillie’s Walking Woman Revisited and Cim MacDonald’s Driftwood Tangle.

Richard Gibson’s Aphrodite won the Cowichan Valley Fine Art Show’s Best In Show Award (photo CVFAS)

On Saturday, the show also hosted Art Attack where artists battled one another while painting to music as guests surveyed their work.

“The art we’re seeing has become a little bit more interpretive, perhaps a little more abstract, but at the same time I’m seeing more pastoral works. The art is exhibiting the world in a more peaceful way,” said Croft.

“Artists are also having more fun with art…landscapes that don’t lead anywhere – going where you want them to go.”

And although the Fine Art Show is scheduled to wrap up on June 4, it doesn’t mean that artists will be taking the summer off.

Between June 8 and July 5, the Arts Council will host “The First” Island’s Printmaking Biennial 2024, hosted by Printmakers Only Group. The show is designed to connect printmaking groups and individual printmakers living on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia.

Then, between July 9 and 31, the Cowichan Valley Arts Council will support emerging artists by providing an exhibiting and marketing opportunity in their Annex Gallery. Artists can submit up to two works and all art will be for sale.

“Art is important to the health of our community…of every community really,” said Croft. “That’s a connection that has been studied and acknowledged by the World Health Organization. We believe strongly in that and are always working to connect artists with the people who love art and help to make the community stronger, both mentally and physically.”

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