Exhibition: Educated by a Basket

Exhibition: Educated by a Basket

. . .

Exhibition postponed

Due to technical reasons, the Cowichan Public art Gallery was unfortunately forced to postpone this exhibition.

We look forward to presenting this important exhibition
at some point in the near future. 

. . .

What will replace it, you ask?

. . .

Sept. 13th until Oct. 25th

Tuesdays to Saturdays – 10am – 4pm

Cowichan Public Art Gallery, 126 Ingram Street, Duncan

contact: info@cowichangallery.ca

We are delighted to present this special exhibition: “Plan B”.

This extraordinary show spotlights both the original art of a group of very dedicated volunteers who make our gallery thrive as well as select works from their personal art collections.

The Cowichan Public Art Gallery is more than just a space for showcasing art; it’s a community that thrives on creativity, collaboration, and passion. Our awesome volunteers are at the heart of this community, and this exhibition is a tribute to their artistic talents and interests.

. . .


Exhibition photos coming soon

. . .


About the Cowichan Public Art Gallery (CPAG)

Founded in 2017, CPAG is working to build a world-class art gallery in the town of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley. Once completed, the Gallery will welcome exhibitions from British Columbia, Canada and the world — including engagement and educational events for the public. In the meantime, CPAG has an annual exhibition program enhancing and expanding arts and cultural opportunities for everyone. More than 400 individuals have signed our petition in favour of the project and it enjoys support from all levels of government. CPAG is a registered charity.

Exhibition: Educated by a Basket

Meeting with Ministers – August 3, 2023

Ministers meet with CPAG
August 3, 2023

Members of the Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society had an important meeting with Lana Popham (Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport), Doug Routley (Parliamentary Secretary for Forests) and Michelle Staples (Mayor of the City of Duncan) regarding potential sources of funding for the Gallery.

Also in attendance: Jock Hildebrand (President of CPAG), Russell Wintersgill (Vice President of CPAG), David Coulson (CPAG Director), Anne Brunet (CPAG Secretary/Treasurer) and Stella Cockett (CPAG Volunteer Docent)

The meeting was reported to be very positive and is expected to bear fruit.

More about Lana Popham – MLA
More about Doug Routley, MLA
More about MIchelle Staples, Mayor of the City of Duncan

Game changer: the Bilbao Guggenheim

Game changer: the Bilbao Guggenheim

– by Becky Hazell
My husband and I recently visited the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain’s Basque Country. Wow! The building itself is a startlingly beautiful work of art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. It’s so big! A huge plaza leads to the entrance, and the art starts there with a giant statue covered in mosses and living flowers: a surreal happy dog. Kids and families use the plaza to meet, socialize, roller skate.

Then you enter the museum (why museum? Why not gallery of wonders?), and it’s filled with modern treasures, from a dazzling permanent collection to temporary exhibits. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe either the building or the artwork it hosts: magical, hospitable, elegant, surprising, playful.

Imagine meandering through three huge rooms filled with works by Joan Miro and hearing haunting musical sounds emanating from, apparently, nowhere. You follow the sound into a nearby room and enter another world entirely. Massive sculptures by Richard Serra fill the room, along with musical echoes. You search, enchanted, and discover, hidden in the folds of one of the labyrinthine sculptures, a man playing the saxophone!

Upstairs stands a mysterious structure resembling a loosely woven hut or giant box with no entrance. You circumambulate it, trying to decide whether it’s made of wood? Metal? Mystery?

Downstairs in a darkened room, you walk into another box whose interior is made entirely of lighted mirrors that reflect an infinity of coloured glass balls hanging from the ceiling, reminding you of Christmas ornaments turned sublime.

Other rooms, more dazzling artwork, provocative sculptures, delicate films, artful architectural vignettes, massive textile art and more. Helpful docents. Even a great restaurant.

I want to share how this museum could inspire us here in the Cowichan Valley

I could go on, but other than encouraging you to add this special place to your bucket list, I want to share how this museum could inspire us here in the Cowichan Valley. When the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao came into being, Bilbao was a struggling port city with a drab future. Its mayor, a person of great vision, fought long and hard to bring the Guggenheim Foundation’s patronage to town. Long story short, he succeeded, found funding and got a dream gallery built under budget. The city not only revived, it blossomed. Spain in general is a country that lives art. The sidewalks, the plazas, the buildings and the other elements of civic life are beautiful. Now, with the museum as a centerpiece, Bilbao is a place where you want to be, where you feel better about life and its potential.

So, like other smaller cities, can Duncan bring the arts to the forefront as a way to thrive as a community both economically and culturally? Why not invite a visionary architect like Frank Gehry to work their magic on the Cowichan Public Art Gallery? We can be bold and visionary like Bilbao and bring the same brilliance here.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

More about the Museum here

Even more here

Exhibition: Educated by a Basket

Exhibition: Interplay and Boundaries

On loan from the Burnaby Art Gallery, City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection

Exhibition extended!

July 13 until September 1st

Tuesdays to Saturdays – 10am – 4pm

Cowichan Public Art Gallery, 126 Ingram Street, Duncan

contact: info@cowichangallery.ca

(**Caution Adult content – children must be accompanied by consenting parent)

Opening reception: Wed. July 12, 7:30 pm
Featuring: live reaction during the reception by performance artist Yuko Yamamoto.

Members of the audience are invited to join the performance and enjoy! 

Noboru Sawai, an esteemed printmaker who received training in both the United States and Japan, achieved global recognition with exhibitions spanning various countries, including Canada, Japan, Italy, and Israel. Born in Takamatsu, Japan, Sawai immigrated to the United States in 1950 after serving as a cook’s assistant for the United States military in Japan for a period of four years. Unfortunately, shortly after his arrival in the United States, he contracted tuberculosis, which necessitated a nine-year confinement in a sanatorium. During this extended period, Sawai honed his skills in leather carving, tooling, and jewelry making.

Following his discharge from the sanatorium, Sawai pursued higher education, culminating in the attainment of his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1969. Subsequently, in 1970, he relocated with his family to Japan to study printmaking under the tutelage of Master Toshi Yoshida. The subsequent year marked Sawai’s arrival in Canada, where he commenced his tenure as a professor in the art department at the University of Calgary, where he would teach for a remarkable span of 22 years. In 1981, Sawai took a significant step by establishing his own studio, known as Sawai Atelier, in Vancouver.

. . .

Interdisciplinary artist Yuko Yamamoto conceives and practices creativity in many languages – paint, fiber, ancient ‘Yuzen’ woodblock print-making, text, and performance. Yuko believes it is in the process of being utterly honest, intense, and human, that art achieves authenticity. And this process illuminates for Yuko the fundamental desire to be a human being.

Yuko studied and practiced as a clinical psychologist in Japan. During graduate studies at the Art School of the Arts Institute of Chicago, she transposed to performance art. Emigrating to the Cowichan Valley with her husband and daughters in 2010, Yuko has given herself freely, engaging with many diverse community groups in experimental creative projects. She continues to teach and work as a guest curator in Japan.

Yamamoto, like Noboru, is a Japanese-born artist, practicing in British Columbia. The point of connection for Yuko for this exhibition is the Sawai print, “Under the Umbrella”. In an exhibition, Noboru made a piece of performance art regarding the print. Noboru put a naked woman in a wheelbarrow in which he moved the wheelbarrow through the gallery. Yuko had a strong reaction to the performance as it was described to her by the curator.
More about Yuko Yamamoto here

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Details from the prints

Exhibition catalogue

click image to open catalogue in a new window


Opening reception

Yuko fainted during the performance and an ambulance was called to attend. She recovered without any injuries and was feeling much better soon after the Paramedics ensured that everything was ok.


Artist’s statement

Two years ago, I was invited to this two-person show with Sawai Noboru. Noboru-san has already passed away, but the curator knew about him well and gave me some information about Noboru and his work. I loved his prints, especially the piece, “Under the Umbrella” **. It was an outdoor scene with subdued but pleasant colours. There was a naked woman sitting on a wheelbarrow showing her back that had vibrant flower tattoos. Plants didn’t grow from the fertile brown soil, as if the land was bombed. I imagined that she was a woman who lost everything in the war except for a wheelbarrow and two old mattresses – I didn’t count the umbrella because it didn’t look like a real, but an imaginary umbrella for me. On the other hand, however, the vivid flower patterns on her back were vigorously flourishing as if they represent the woman’s vitality and the promising future of the post-war world I saw in the print. When I told my impression of the piece, the curator told me that Noboru did a live performance in which he had a naked woman on a wheelbarrow; he moved the wheelbarrow around in the gallery space among the audience.

The woman in Sawai’s performance felt like an object for me. It wasn’t the same woman in “Under the Umbrella”. I said to the curator, “Noboru flashed an instant and shocking illusion and then removed it right away. It feels as if the latter half of the performance hasn’t been presented. I also felt that Noboru had all the controlling power, not only over the naked woman, but also the audience. I feel perplexed and ambivalent.” The curator said to me, “Yuko, can you make a performance using all the feelings you spoke to me now?”

Some time later, I thought of making a continuation of Noboru’s performance. However, I never wanted to be the naked woman on the wheelbarrow pushed by someone. I wanted to be a woman completely different from it. In order to do that, I replaced Noboru’s wheelbarrow with my heavy-duty industrial sewing machine that represents my skills, economy, self-sufficiency, everyday life… Also, in Sawai’s performance the naked woman seemed muted. In contrast, I want to talk, interact, sew, play pop music and invigorate the space. In my performance I am not the performer who controls everything; the people who come to see this show will be an important component to make this live performance organic and sensuous.

*Inspiration for the installation: Hathor holding Nefertari’s hand, symbolizes the union of the Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt; Giacomo Manzu (1908-1991); Bauci (1933)

** ”Under the Umbrella” isn’t included in this show, however, the Cowichan Public Art Gallery kindly printed the piece on the poster.


“Seeds of Love”

installation and performance by Yuko Yamamoto

“On July 12, I fainted during my performance. One of the people there supported me when I fell, so I was not injured. I think it happened because I hadn’t slept much for some weeks to make these puzzle cubes, my installation piece*. I recovered now and I very much appreciate the people who supported me. I look back to this accident positively, not only feeling the warmth of the people, but it was also not conceptually wrong.

My performance was a reaction to Sawai’s live performance in which he carried around his naked girlfriend on a wheelbarrow. I cannot tell if it was his or her idea, however, an image of a man using his lover’s body in his art piece is not my favorite. When a woman exposes her privacy, it must be completely under her own control. That is my idea about sexuality. I think that we learn about what love is through sexuality; if we don’t have fluid and mutual relationships, love struggles to grow there.

Sawai’s live piece reminded me of the power issue in love or any human relationships. I decided to deal with it in my piece by shifting my controlling power as the performer to the audience. That is the reason why I asked the audience to be performers by joining in the activities I prepared – listed below. I fainted right after I finished explaining how everyone could be involved in the activities. After that, my role was to be one of them. Even if one of the 50 performers couldn’t conduct the full presentation of her role, the live piece could still go on and complete. My intention was fulfilled.

List of the activities the audience participated in on July 12, 2023

1. Seed-making: performers open trillium buds and write their words that represent ‘seeds of their future’.

2. Knocking down an obstacle that prevents your future from growing; a performer knocks down a tower made with some puzzle cubes.

3. Collaborative puzzle solving: a team of performers solves three-dimensional puzzle structure and constructs the installation following the illustrations.

4. Dancing with the jukebox music – Jukebox (a sewing machine and cell phone) was only installed and played during the duration of the live performance.”
– Yuko Yamamoto


A special invitation from Yuko

To anyone who wrote something to represent “the seed of your future” on a trillium flower during the “Interplay and Boundaries” exhibition: please come back to the Gallery and pick up your trillium seed to take home.

Your special seed has matured, and is ready to be planted in your life!

– Yuko Yamamoto

. . .


About the Cowichan Public Art Gallery (CPAG)

Founded in 2017, CPAG is working to build a world-class art gallery in the town of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley. Once completed, the Gallery will welcome exhibitions from British Columbia, Canada and the world — including engagement and educational events for the public. In the meantime, CPAG has an annual exhibition program enhancing and expanding arts and cultural opportunities for everyone. More than 400 individuals have signed our petition in favour of the project and it enjoys support from all levels of government. CPAG is a registered charity.

Colourful pennants

Colourful pennants


The grounds of the Green Door Heritage building (new interim home of the Cowichan Public Art Gallery) have stayed the same for quite a while, so it was decided to add a little colour and motion to let people know that change has arrived.

Come and sit for a while and see for yourself if the mood is a little bit happier than it was before. While you are there; drop in to the Gallery and see the art exhibition that is on at that time (bring your friends if you like!).

My thanks go to Al Brunet for assisting me in the installation. I said to Al: “If I fall off the ladder and kill myself, I want you to tell my wife that I died doing something that made me happy.”

– Dorian Melton, CPAG Director


Hanging the pennants

Exhibition: Educated by a Basket

Exhibition: Graham Pettman

. . .

May 18 to July 5

Tuesdays to Saturdays – 10am – 4pm

Cowichan Public Art Gallery, 126 Ingram Street, Duncan

contact: info@cowichangallery.ca


The Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society (CPAG) is pleased to announce the second exhibition in its interim home.


Graham Pettman was born in 1938 at Fort Vermillion, Alberta, of a Cree mother and a British father. Being nomadic most of his life, Graham has been traveling with his work between BC and Alberta. Many of his works end up in sculpture collections outside of Canada, and his work is acknowledged to be the originator of a new style now in common use among many indigenous sculptors, not unlike the indigenous painter, Norval Morrisseau famed for creating the contemporary eastern woodland style of indigenous painting.

This exhibition at the Cowichan Public Art Gallery is about the Mimigewsiwak or the Cree “Little People” which Graham has illustrated in marvelous stone sculpture. Twenty or more “Little People” sculptures will be presented along with other artwork in this powerful exhibition. The exhibition is a master class in observation and masterly carving inspired by native traditions.

Graham grew up in small town Alberta, spending time with Cree relatives living in the old ways. Observing the lifestyle of his grandfather, an herbalist and trapper; Graham saw a man who lived a simple life surrounded by nature right up until his death at nearly one hundred years of age.

Encouraged by a friend and his brother to work in soapstone, he started carving full-time in 1982. More of Graham’s Cree background and Native heritage is depicted with the integration of the symbols that nature displays. His inspiration comes from the existing shape of the stone before he commences carving.

Graham feels fortunate to live in an area where he can participate in the Native culture, invigorating, enlivening, and illustrating re-emerging ancient traditions relating to the Creator. He enjoyed sketching as a youngster and met and was influenced by A.Y. Jackson (a founding member of the Group of Seven) as a youth in Yellowknife and was later inspired to attend the Alberta College of Art in 1965.
Graham presently lives in 100 Mile House in the Cariboo region of British Columbia Canada where he enjoys the company of his three children: Demian, Mikara, and Aaron.


Video: A true Canadian Treasure: Graham Pettman


Installing the exhibit


Opening reception


The Exhibition

Exhibition catalogue

click image to open catalogue in a new window


More about the Artist

by his daughter Demian

Although this is the largest current collection and his first solo show in almost 20 years; BC artist Graham Pettman has been at “it” for his whole life of 84 years. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t create, whether it is to chip away at rock, paint, or simply sketch out a cartoon on the edge of his crossword puzzle book.

One of the few interruptions to his creative routine happened in in 2021 when
Graham became very ill and spent the next 6 months recovering from a lengthy hospital
stay. We suddenly realized his body of work was finite, and he had a number of
requests to purchase his works and also to acknowledge him and his contribution to
Canadian Art. He always follows his own instincts and although innovative, his art is
often misunderstood and underappreciated, as with many other great Canadian artists.

Often, our society pays attention to the grand gestures rather than the day to day
kindnesses. We overlook our small blessings in pursuit of the rainbow’s gold.
Graham’s work celebrates the simple joys of life and looks deeper into the beauty of
the medium and possibility of human shapes and forms.

As an observer, often from the lens of an outsider and a visible minority, Graham
passes on his perceptions through his art. He expresses the myriad sides of him as an individual but also as a human being: culture, core values, connection to Nature,
humour, current events. His goal is not to just do pretty art, but to honour the medium and speak to viewers about what it means to be Indigenous, to be a human
being. Often the images used in his pieces are symbolic: for example, the mouse
symbolizing humility, paying attention to details, making use of the crumbs. Hands
symbolizing creation, reaching out, helping, touch and comfort, a guidance beyond ourselves. The coyote trickster and multi-images symbolizing duality within ourselves.

The Mimigwesiwak show may seem to be about myth, but at its heart, it is about
connection. The show depicts connection in all its forms: between people and their culture, their stories, their ancestors; between parents and children, families; between humans and nature, the plants and animals; and also about people’s relationships with themselves, sometimes disjointed parts of themselves, the shadow aspects.

Not only does Graham invite the visitor to appreciate Indigenous values, but also his
art brought him onto the traditional territory of the Cowichan Tribes. While in
Duncan for the show opening, Graham and his family had an amazing opportunity to
attend an event hosted by Robert George and the Cowichan Intercultural Society. An
evening of ritual, food, conversation, jokes and gifts were part of a moving ceremony
welcoming guests and newcomers to the Warm Land of the Cowichan. New
relationships were made, in honour of the existing and ancient connections of
Indigenous Peoples to their land. We thank them for their warmth and hospitality.
Art, like music, is a way to bring people together, to find commonalities, to meet and to share. These rituals keep us on the right way.

Many people are lucky enough to discover Art at any point in their lives, with varying
levels of internal and external resources from which to draw. Some make it their
career. A few are embraced by art academia and officially determined to be the “best.” This is art that is groomed to win notoriety — art understood, art the
government can get behind.

But there are plenty of artists, who live their calling daily, conduits of the flow of
creativity. It can be easy to ignore this art because to understand it, you must allow
yourself to be touched, to open yourself to the world of otherness, to feel what it is
to be human: love, curiosity, amazement, dreams.

You are being given a gift by everyone who shares their creativity, an invitation to
explore, to contemplate another’s insight, awareness, and sensitivity.

When we choose material achievement over personal development, social approval over self acceptance, when we choose moral high ground and judgementalism over relationship and collaboration, we deny ourselves the joy of living and celebration of our differences and variety (the spice of life).

There’s much discussion these days about the importance of connection. Although
face to face interactions have been slowly seeping out of society the last few
decades, the COVID years brought the issue into sharp focus. Some might say our society has lost its way, moving farther from the hearth of connection.

One of the paths back to connection is through Art. Art is a gift; sharing it is a hand offered in greeting. Tansi! (Cree for hello).


About the Cowichan Public Art Gallery (CPAG)

Founded in 2017, CPAG is working to build a world-class art gallery in the town of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley. Once completed, the Gallery will welcome exhibitions from British Columbia, Canada and the world — including engagement and educational events for the public. In the meantime, CPAG has an annual exhibition program enhancing and expanding arts and cultural opportunities for everyone. More than 400 individuals have signed our petition in favour of the project and it enjoys support from all levels of government. CPAG is a registered charity.

Spring clean-up

Spring clean-up

Green Door Heritage Building, home of the Cowichan Public Art Gallery.


Cowichan Public Art Gallery cleans up in preparation for an active season.


Students from Brentwood College School in Mill Bay helped to raise funds for their projects by pitching in on a major clean-up of the grounds of the Green Door Heritage Building.

“The grounds of the site have not looked this good since it was first revitalized back in 2001!” says founder and event organizer David Coulson. The students scrubbed decks and siding, pruned back plants, bushes and small trees and bagged a ½ ton truckload of debris in the process. We here at CPAG very much appreciated the energetic help!

Food to feed the hungry students was generously donated by Save-On-Foods (located in Duncan Village). The sandwiches were fabulous and enough to feed a small army!

In praise of Volunteers

In praise of Volunteers

As every non-profit organization knows very well: without volunteers, nothing would get done.

Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.

The Cowichan Public Art Gallery’s inaugural art exhibition in our new home in the Green Door Heritage building is currently open to the public 5 days a week thanks to the efforts of a group of arts-loving volunteers who have committed their time to being there to greet visitors to the gallery.

My own involvement in community volunteering began around 1990 after having joined a Karate class in a Vancouver Community Centre. A couple of years later, one of the Senseis suggested that I wouldn’t have to pay the monthly membership fee if I would assist with the class. Senior students helping junior students is the norm in such classes and so my volunteering days began.

Assisting others in learning can be a very effective tool for deepening one’s own understanding of a subject, so it was beneficial for everyone involved. I was surprised and very gratified by the sense of community that would come from having this as a regular activity in my life and consider the people I met to be friends to this day.

After coming to live in the Cowichan Valley in mid 2017; I looked forward to seeing what pleasures awaited in the local arts scene and soon noticed that I would have to travel beyond this area if I wanted to visit public art galleries. After being introduced to artist Jock Hildebrand by a mutual friend and hearing of his plan to bring a public art gallery to the Cowichan Valley; I became involved with the newly formed Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society (CPAG).

In the years since the beginning of my involvement, I have made many new friends in the CPAG group and take great personal satisfaction in being able to contribute in a meaningful way to this ambitious project which promises to add to the already rich cultural fabric of this area for generations to come.

Volunteering is good for you…if you haven’t already; try it, you might like it.

More information is here on our Volunteer page

Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Sheila at sheila@cowichangallery.ca if you have any questions.

CPAG potluck dinner-2019

John Frith

John Frith

John Frith, Designer


John Frith Creates Artful Desk for Cowichan Public Art Gallery (CPAG)

John Frith of JJ Frith Design has created and donated a spectacular desk for front-of-house at CPAG’s new gallery space in downtown Duncan. It is both practical and a work of art. This local cabinet designer’s pieces grace many homes and offices throughout the Cowichan Valley and beyond.

Frith refers to this $10K installation as his origami piece, as it contains angles and cuts that remind one of the paper-folding art form. The process of taking an assignment like this and turning it into a memorable piece begins with closely listening to the client, then fleshing out a design and drawing it to scale. Next, Frith seeks out the right material – in this case, locally grown cedar, milled and finished at Glenora Farm by Irvine Bahnmann of Bahnmann Timber, who offered a significant discount. Frith found a talented builder in Curtis Neufeld at Neufeld Furniture, who did the work for half price. The remaining costs were donated by JJ Frith Design, along with John Frith’s time and talent.

Frith ensures that his creations, from humble mud room to elegant furniture, fit not only their intended spaces but also are in alignment with their surroundings. A gleaming, stark countertop wouldn’t work in a rustic cabin, for example. So, for the CPAG desk, you can see scars in the tree integrated into its artful design, reflecting the aesthetic of the gallery.

CPAG deeply thanks Frith for his time, energy and talent in providing its first gallery space with a welcoming, unique look, and a beautiful spot for its guestbook. And why did he choose to help out? He said, “I feel aligned with what CPAG is doing. It’s about time. Everyone should have access to beauty. Without art there is no civilization. I am glad to have been able to donate this piece for the new gallery space.”

John Frith ​​250-510-4005 (Designer)

Art Exhibition – “A Feminine Vision”  the art of Maggie Hazell-Rosen

Art Exhibition – “A Feminine Vision” the art of Maggie Hazell-Rosen

Tuesdays to Saturdays – 10am – 4pm

Opening: Thursday March 16 at 7pm

Cowichan Public Art Gallery, 126 Ingram St., Duncan

contact: info@cowichangallery.ca


The Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society (CPAG) is pleased to announce the opening of its interim home.

CPAG has taken over the lower level of the Green Door Building, located at 126 Ingram Street in downtown Duncan, and will open its doors on March 16th with a retrospective exhibition of the work of Maggie Hazell-Rosen.

Maggie was one of the first women to exhibit abstract expressionist art in both Vancouver and San Francisco. Her earliest exhibitions, to which she primarily contributed portraits, were in Vancouver in the mid-1940’s, but in 1953, after spending five years in San Francisco where she studied at both the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the California School of Fine Arts, she contributed several abstract works to the 9th group show at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In the fall of 1954 she moved to Sausalito, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, where she quickly joined its lively arts culture. She was the director of the 1956 Sausalito Art Festival, greatly expanding its scope and turning it into one of the Bay Area’s most important annual art festivals. For many years she was a regular participant in that festival and in the San Francisco Art Festival. She was also active in the San Francisco Women Artists, serving as secretary and then president.

Maggie’s work is distinctly feminine, with a warm colour palette and often displaying a strong sense of humour. It’s easy to recognize these qualities in the work that has been assembled for this retrospective exhibition, which is a very small sample of her total oeuvre. Most of the earliest works shown are abstract oil paintings on canvas or masonite; owning to her having developed an allergy to turpentine, her work after 1970 expanded to include acrylic paintings, etchings and other prints, and drawings, many of which include some watercolour or coloured pencil elements. She had a firm but relaxed line, which really drew out the personality of her subjects.

Maggie’s early influences include Clyfford Still, Hassel Smith and David Park, all of whom were at the California School of Fine arts in the late 1940’s. She was also a keen student of Spanish and Italian artists, and in particular of those artist’s drawings.

Maggie was born in Vancouver in 1919, and while she proudly retained her Canadian citizenship, she lived most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she died in 2010. Her father was the songwriter Charles Franklin Harrison, her sister the playwright Poppy McKenzie, and her grandmother the opera singer Marie Harrison, also known as Madame Yulisse.


The exhibition


Hanging the exhibition

After the curatorial decisions have been made about placement of the art works, the hanging crew puts the work on the walls and adjusts the lighting.   It is interesting to see the transition of the space to its final stage of presentation.


Opening Reception

We wanted to reward the many people who have supported our vision of a Public Art Gallery in Duncan over the past few years since we formed the Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society.   Opening receptions are a time to re-connect with old friends and make new ones…this one was filled with high energy (and laughter when one of the resident cats “Big Bear” decided to come in and see what all the fuss was about.

CPAG would also like to thank Zanatta Estate Winery for the generous donation of their excellent wines for this occasion.


About the Cowichan Public Art Gallery (CPAG)

Founded in 2017, CPAG is working to build a world-class art gallery in the town of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley. Once completed, the Gallery will welcome exhibitions from British Columbia, Canada and the world — including engagement and educational events for the public. In the meantime, CPAG has an annual exhibition program enhancing and expanding arts and cultural opportunities for everyone. More than 400 individuals have signed our petition in favour of the project and it enjoys support from all levels of government. CPAG is a registered charity.