Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Wonderful Birthday Surprise!

The day dawned rather cool and cloudy.  "Where's the sun?" I mused to myself.

It had been a rather dull and rainy week but today the sun would shine for sure!  You see, it was my birthday and the sun has shone on my birthday for as long as I can remember.  Sometimes only for a few minutes but it has never disappointed me.... even on that day I turned ten.

A freak snowstorm dumped so much snow (I was living with my family in Ontario then) that the snow drifts were so high that it blocked our front door and I had to cancel my birthday party!  I was so disappointed.  Then, early in the afternoon, the sun came out and sprinkled diamonds in the snow for me.  It was a birthday gift that I have never forgotten and now I have another one to add to the "memory book" of my life...

I fired up my computer and opened my mail. There was an email from the gallery that I had, on a bit of a  dare, submitted three of my pieces for an upcoming art show.  I opened it, just as the sun peaked through the clouds for a few seconds and shone in through the window.

I am certain, that had you seen the look on my face as I read the email, it would have been... well... priceless!  I had to read it three times before it sunk in.  It was an acceptance email for not one, not two but all three of my pieces.  Now THAT is quite an unexpected but very sweet birthday gift.  I was so excited that I thought for a moment my heart would jump right out of my body.  If that's what winning the lottery feels like... BRING IT ON!  I am really looking foward to inviting some of the very special people and friends in my life to the Artist's Reception and Opening on May 28.  The show itself is open to the public from May 26 - June 5.

This particular art gallery has always appealed to the Victoria historian in me and I love going there... even just to wander around the gardens on the property.  In my wildest dreams I never expected to one day have my art shown there. 

Being a "collective" gallery (a community of artists and mainly run by volunteers), I had given some serious thought this past winter to offering some volunteer time at the gallery just to put myself in a community of artists.  I felt it was an opportunity to get to know other artists and their work in our area and perhaps attend some of the art workshops there.  Hubby and I talked about it and he encouraged me to "go for it".  I was all set to contact them after Christmas when, of course, I found out that I was about to be sidelined on the "lazy boy" for a couple of months.  So much for that idea!

In early April, a friend mentioned that the gallery was looking for artists to submit their art for jurying and be included in their upcoming "Anything Goes" art show.  It was an "open" submission... meaning that you didn't have to be an "associate artist" of the gallery in order to submit.  I must admit, I rather scoffed at the idea at the time.

"Oh for Pete's sake, Sharon" she said my friend, rather annoyed.  "You've had pieces juried and accepted in the two biggest shows on Vancouver Island that every artist covets getting into.  Both of those shows accept only about a third of all the submissions they get.  Considering that the percentage of pieces sold at those shows is less than half, that's a big message.  It tells you there are people out there who like "your "stuff".  Your pieces have all sold. You can submit three pieces to the Coast Collective Gallery... just pick three of your favourite pieces that you can part with, fill out the application and submit them for heaven's sake."  So, after thinking it over for a few days, I did!

Have you ever had the experience of initially rejecting an idea because something seemed to be stopping you?  I admit, this "kick in the butt" conversation with my friend  got me thinking.  Was I afaid of being rejected?  Did I not value my own work?  What was going on in that brain of mine?  It took me a couple of days to figure it out.

Working through those questions prompted me to write a new artist's statement.  It's a great exercise I think every artist should be required to do at least once a year (and mine was a couple of years old) I feel really good about my artists statement now... it is definitely more authentic than ever before and  a much truer reflection of where I come from and what my art is all about for me.   Want to have a "conversation" about the process of writing an artist statement?  Let me know and I'll put a blog post together.

In the meantime, a "snippet" of Victoria history that surrounds the Coast Collective Gallery, a photo of the building and photos of my pieces that were accepted into the show.

"Pendray House" - Coast Collective Art Gallery
Havenwood Estates at Esquimalt Lagoon
Colwood, British Columbia

The Gallery is at the end of a winding road in Havenwood Estate (close to Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University) in the historic Pendray House.  Built in 1928 by Herbert Pendray (1883-1956), the son of William Pendray, Herbert worked in the family paint business (the British American Paint Company) in the position of Vice President. 

His father William came to British Columbia in 1869 during the gold rush to work in the mines at Mosquito Creek in the Cariboo.  He struck it rich when he acquired one of the gold mines that turned out to have the richest diggings in the country.  He returned to England for a few years and then made his way back to Victoria and founded the Pendray Soap Factory ((located near the grand Empress Hotel at the head of Victoria's Inner Harbour) and later founded a highly successful paint company known as the British American Paint Company. 

Nestled in the woods overlooking the ocean, Pendray House was built in the English style of a Mediterraean villa.   A Gardener's Cottage, used by the grounds caretaker followed in 1935 along with a greenhouse and barn.

Sold after the death of Herbert's wife, the house has had a few owners over the years. In 1966, it was purchased for use as a country club and later became a rest home for the elderly but sold again  and was leased by the Pacific Center for Family Services up until a few years ago when it became the Coast Collective Gallery. 

Situated in one of the most beautiful settings for a gallery in Victoria, the grounds surrounding the house are absolutely gorgeous.  One highlight is the antique sundial sitting on a plinth of river stones in the garden.  The inscriptions on the sundial are worth noting...
“For every hour that passes, a remembrance;
For every hour that strikes, a happiness;
For every hour that comes, a hope."

The inscription inside the hour circle of the sundial itself reads, “Time is Precious”

Wandering through the “house” with all its little rooms filled with art “goodies” is delightful. There is a lovely gift shop with a “tea veranda” and the main gallery, with its full frontage windows, overlooks the grounds and the ocean… the view is spectacular.  It's a little piece of "heaven" tucked away close to my favourite beach.

Here are photos of the pieces that have been accepted into the show:

Kyoto Geikos - Clay Mixed Media
inspired by the story "Memoirs of a Geisha"

"Tweet T2" - Ceramic/Clay
inspired by birds singing and "tweeting" while I was drinking
some southern "sweet tea" in a garden in Savannah, Georgia

"Sakura Geisha" - Japanese Paper Collage/Drawing
inspired by a tale about a beautiful Japanese
Geisha who was a dancer but sent the man she
loved most of all away for she felt she was
"unworthy"  of his love for her.  A sad but
moving tale of of sacrifice --- she mourned
him deeply to the end of her days.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful long weekend.  Now I must take the time today to fill out my forms to become an associate member of the collective!  YIPPEEE!