City of Duncan’s Perpetual Arts Trophy

City of Duncan’s Perpetual Arts Trophy

Photo: Addie Brown poses with Duncan’s Perpetual Arts Trophy soapstone carving “The Passion”. Addie’s great, great grandfather, C.A. (Bob) Howard, was a Freeman of the City.
– photo by Peter W. Rusland

by Peter W. Rusland

Surprised and humbled is how many local artists, patrons and teachers react when realizing they’ve won the City of Duncan’s Perpetual Arts Trophy.
“I’m flattered to think all my efforts did not go unnoticed,” Cowichan choral master and singer Peter Yelland said after earning the 2017 trophy. “But I didn’t do (teaching and leading choirs) for those (awards) reasons.”

Photo: Cowichan choir master Peter Yelland is presented the City of Duncan’s 2017 Perpetual Arts Trophy by then-councillor Michelle Staples. – photo by Peter W. Rusland

The city’s 22nd-annual Perpetual Arts Trophy will be presented at City Hall on Dec. 2.
Concerti Singers’ choir leader and teacher Sheila Johnson, and her late husband Jim, won the 2018 award.
Sheila, and many others involved in the arts, is proud of the trophy saluting those who expose locals and tourists to valley arts and culture of all genres.
“We’re all under the umbrella of the arts,” Johnson said.
Cowichan boasts one of Canada’s highest per-capita arts ratios that includes visual art, music, dance, drama and writing.
Like Yelland, Sheila was delightfully surprised to win Duncan’s prized arts award after being lured by friends to the City Hall ceremony where the recipient is announced.
“Jim was not one for publicity,” she said of her modest husband and noted singer, “but he would have liked winning this award.”
“I was really honoured to receive it last year. You just carry on day to day doing what you do and suddenly I was being recognized.
“My life is directing my choirs, and it was wonderful realizing people in my community appreciate that.”
The arts award is now endorsed by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council. The award was created in 1997 by the now-defunct, arts-friendly Cowichan News Leader Pictorial newspaper.
The winner receives a piece of original local art.
The honour is presented annually in chambers during Duncan’s December inaugural ceremony.
The winner is privately picked by Duncan councillors from among public nominations. That person or group is presented the arts trophy, alongside winners of the city’s sports trophy, Scroll of Honour, and Freeman of the City honours.
Names of arts trophy winners are mounted on a plaque in council chambers’ lobby, and on the base of an imposing soapstone trophy piece titled “The Passion”.
That work was carved by local artist Eric Knoll in 1997.
The trophy’s first recipient was Leslie Sjoberg of the renowned Cowichan Music Festival and Friends of the Cowichan Theatre.
Her honour heralded many other winners including Medford Singers founder Bev Medford (1999), painter Pat Fischer (2000), late Cowichan Theatre manager and culture-vulture Roger Sparkes (2002), Cowichan Secondary School art teacher and artist Lynda Faulks (2003), Duncan master painter E. J. Hughes (2004), music impresario Longevity John Falkner (2005), First Nations artist Stuart Pagaduan (2009), multi-media artist Glenn Spicer (2010), Cowichan Folk Guild founders Deb Make and Mike Ballantyne (2011), and filmmaker Nick Versteeg (2014).
Nomination papers are available at city hall and online until nominations close each year in late September.

What is an Art Gallery?

What is an Art Gallery?

photo credit: Kirsty Kelly


by Rebecca Hazell

Do you own a pair of jeans? Eat from dishes? Live in a dwelling? Then you have contact with art. Someone designed those jeans, dishes, homes, and though they may call themselves clothing designers, artisans or architects, what these people do is make practical art that allows you to enjoy and appreciate your life.

Art galleries do the same thing: they too beckon you to enjoy and appreciate your life.

But you might think, “Oh, art. That’s just stuff on walls. It has nothing to do with me. Besides, I can’t even draw a straight line.” In school, you might have doodled on margins but felt that math and science were the real things. In an art gallery, you learn otherwise, and your world gets bigger and more interesting.

Here’s what art galleries do and how they do it. They do have stuff on walls, and often in the middle of the floor (sculpture), and sometimes even on the ceilings (installations). Some art nowadays includes writing or music or video. Some invites you to get inside it or interact with it. Every piece of art is like a window on a new world that says, “You could see in this new way! Come in and laugh or cry or be annoyed or puzzled, and ask questions!”

Galleries serve everyone, too. Children ‘get’ art right away unless they’ve been misled to believe that drawing a straight line defines an artist. (The secret all artists know is to use a ruler—there’s lots of math and science in art.) They know that art is both play and work in happy balance. Nowadays, galleries offer many ways for children to participate in both making and understanding art as a way of leading fuller, more creative lives—art is a form of problem solving that engages both brain hemispheres.

Galleries serve every age group, of course. Young parents bring babies to be surrounded by colour and to enjoy the calm of a place dedicated to appreciating instead of rushing; so do savvy grandparents who want to broaden their grandchildren’s world. And walking through a gallery instead of a mall is more entertaining and likely less expensive!

Galleries also offer programs that show us how to see and experience more fully both inside them and when we go back home: they are a celebration of what makes us human. Such programs, and the art they illuminate, open vistas into seeing every moment of our lives as new and amazing.

So, a gallery does many things: it hosts, it helps, it informs, it inspires, it challenges us to grow bigger and to appreciate life.

There are different kinds of art galleries. A commercial gallery represents a handful of artists and promotes and sells their work. It’s basically a private business, so entry is free. Another kind of gallery is member-run by artists. It’s partly commercial, and it may offer excellent programs to the public. These galleries showcase members’ art, which is a great way to expose local and emerging artists to the public eye, but members pay to participate in shows and then hope for sales. Often these shows are free, too.

A third kind is a public gallery. It is funded by a broad general membership, not an association of artists. It is also partly funded by government in countries like Canada where art is recognized as a true form of wealth and as part of their heritage. A public art gallery hosts traveling exhibits of international status and also creates a collection that represents the best of local and international art. So you don’t go there to buy but to enjoy. Public galleries pay artists; they honour what artists contribute to society (and we wish all artists could be honoured in this way). They also run educational programs, host special events, store archival materials, and sometimes offer cafes and gift/book shops. Yes, you often pay to get in, especially for traveling shows, but you pay more for a movie with treats. And members receive free admission or steep discounts on exhibits and programs.

Some galleries, usually the National Gallery of (name of country), or the (name of city) Art Gallery, are government owned and operated, with supplemental memberships. They exhibit the best of their country’s or city’s art and run on the same lines as public art galleries. You generally pay to get in there, too, but the cost helps support all those galleries and their programming and shows.

There is one last kind of gallery: an art museum. Often found in major cities, they generally focus on a particular kind of art like Asian or modern or First Nations or medieval European. They are similar to public galleries and offer the same services. Sometimes they are privately owned but are open to the paying public. Wealthy art lovers have often founded that kind and filled them with their private collections of really famous art, often from previous centuries.

But it doesn’t much matter what kind of gallery you go to: just go! Discover your inner artist, who is begging for attention. Your life will be enriched beyond measure.

. . .

Canada Day at Maple Bay, 2019.

Canada Day at Maple Bay, 2019.

CVPAG had a booth at the 2019 Maple Bay Canada Day Parade and festivities. We laughed, we cried (ok, not really), we made new friends, signed up some new members and added to the number of signatures on our petition to support building a Public Art Gallery in the Cowichan Valley.


In Memoriam – Will Datene

In Memoriam – Will Datene

Photo: © Will Datené

WILL DATENÉ 1948-2018

We are deeply saddened by the death of Will Datené on Monday November 5, 2018, while out exploring the West Coast’s light with his camera. Internationally-known photographer, teacher and mentor, Will was a founding member of Friends of the Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery and fully committed to the creation of a world-class public art gallery and cultural centre for the Cowichan Valley.

Born in Aachen, Germany, Will emigrated at the age of 10 with his family to live in New York City. In 1968 he moved to Canada.

Will studied at The New School: a New York City university which was established in the early 20th C to offer students studies in multi-disciplinary academic and creative contexts, achieving new ways of viewing the world and social problem-solving. Here, Will joined alumni such as John Cage, Jasper Johns, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marlon Brando, Jack Kerouac, Christopher Hitchens and other seminal 20th C and contemporary artists, thinkers and innovators. Will’s professional career began as first assistant to 3 top fashion photographers, followed by work with a commercial product photography studio.

In Canada, Will studied in the BCIT Professional Photography Program, and taught professional photography with North Island College, and Continuing Studies photography courses, Camosun College. Latterly, Will’s creative work focussed on stock photography, represented by Age Fotostock (Spain/New York), First Light (Toronto) and Superstock (Florida).

To this beholder’s eyes, Will’s photographic vision is uncannily luminous and mystical. It juxtaposes earthy engorged colour with poignantly realized black and white tones. The affect is a rendering of — strangely classical — romantic decadence. A stack of antiquary books, for instance, piles melancholy green-decayed light on classically-gilded book leaves. A rooster flaunts violently erotic saturated hues. A Dog’s dark molten eyes mirror his Friend’s empathic gaze to the beholder. Adrift in sun motes issuing through a derelict doorway, the anachronism of a young cowboy clutches time’s breath.

This lyrically dark psychological stain shifts into Will’s other ludic voice, as seen in the CVPAG Society’s logo: a dog with a bone who playfully escapes the picture frame.

Authentic, warm and delightful as a person, Will Datené’s “passion and vision” emerge as a clear ethic “to seek out a more just, beautiful and better-designed world.”

Written by Wendy Robison

The Beholder’s Share — Colour

From: Kandel, Eric R. The Age of Insight; The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, From Vienna 1900 to the Present. NY, Random, 2012, pp.103; 341-6

“Klimt’s new style also incorporated another modern idea – that of the beholder’s share, the viewer’s relation to art. . . .

Color is uniquely important in the primate brain, much as face and hand representations are, and that is why color signals are processed differently in the brain than light and forms.

We perceive colors as possessing distinct emotional characteristics, and our reaction to those characteristics varies with our mood. Thus, unlike spoken language, which often has an emotional significance regardless of context, color can mean different things to different people. In general, we prefer pure, bright colors to mixed, dull colors. Artists specifically modernist painters, have used exaggerated color as a way to generate emotional effects, but the value of that emotion depends on the viewer and the context. This ambiguity with respect to color may be another reason why a single painting can elicit such different responses from different viewers or even from the same viewer at different times. Color also enables us to discern objects and patterns by enhancing figure-ground discrimination.

. . . our brain perceives forms largely through luminance (brightness) values, like those seen in black and white photographs. Color, therefore, can be used – indeed was used by Van Gogh and later artists – not simply to depict the natural surface of objects, but also to express a wide spectrum of emotion in new and more vivid ways. . . . Particularly important is the fact that we perceive an object’s color as much as 100 milliseconds before its form or motion. This difference in timing is analogous to the fact that we perceive the expression of a face before we perceive its identity. In both cases, our brain processes aspects of the image that relate to emotional perception more rapidly than aspects that relate to form, thus setting the emotional tone for the form – the object or the face – confronting us. . . .

Artists have long intuited the separation between color and form, often forsaking aspects of one to emphasize those of the other. . .allow[ing] the viewer to dedicate more of the brain’s limited attentional resources to the perception of pure color . . . their explosive chromatic range exerts an unprecedented emotional thrust.”

Wu Yongping – In search of New materials

Wu Yongping – In search of New materials

image: Cutting Across Space

Sculptor Wu Yongping lives and works in Shanghai, China, though his
work and reputation is international. Currently, Wu Yongping is engaged
in creating new sculptural works, as well as teaching arts education. This
Associate Professor of the Sculpture Department at the Central Academy
of Fine Art says that new art work involves researching and exploring new
material. But he also continues to use familiar materials such as applied
lacquer and glass casting.

”There is no end to creative direction;
I will insist on creating new works every year,
no matter which form and material it is made
from, and more importantly maintain the
highest state of creation.

Art has no borders, regardless of race, religion,
or color, but only aesthetics; its fundamental
purpose is creation.

Art brings me unlimited creativity, and I believe,
unlimited creativity brings people happiness.”

– Wu Yongping

From Sculptures Pacific Magazine (2013/issue 8)
Courtesy of Jock and Carmen Hildebrand

read the full article: Wu Yongping – Sculptures Pacific magazine, 2013, issue 8




2018 Fall Studio Tour
November 3 and 4, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm daily
“Marvel at the passion and creativity in these unique studios where they bring their inspiration and perfect craft.  These award winning fine craft artisans will amaze you with their exceptional talents.”“Meet the friendly artisans, browse their galleries and take home wonderful memories and exquisite treasures.”

CVPAG members included in this year’s Fall Tour:



Christie’s auctions first AI artwork for
$432,500.00 (U.S.)

read the article on Christie’s websiteI heard this story being discussed on the radio while driving home and wanted immediately to share this with our group’s members.

As an artist; I am still processing this event and am not sure at all how I feel about this development.  It is not just about the money (which is attention-grabbing), but the methods used to create the final image raise questions about what can be considered art and does an artist need to be involved at all?

On Forest Bathing   – by Dorian Melton

On Forest Bathing – by Dorian Melton

The positive feelings many people feel while being in Nature are well known, but the Japanese concept of “Shinrin-yoku”, or “Forest Bathing” takes the experience to another level.

Forest Bathing does not involve any particular exercise or activity beyond simply spending time in a forest.  Among the benefits said to come from spending time in this way this are: lower blood pressure, stress reduction, improved mood and improved sleep.  Making such visits to the forest a regular practice is said to be valuable in maintaining one’s overall health and happiness.

The Cowichan Valley is blessed with rich, verdant forests in which to “Forest Bathe”, for which I am thankful, but this concept is of particular interest to me as an artist as well.

I am inclined to believe that spending time surrounded by art has benefits similar to those said to be associated with spending time in the forest (stress reduction, improved mood etc.).   During visits to great public art galleries while travelling in Europe; time seemed to slow down for me…quietly focusing on a particular work of art for minutes at a time can be a kind of meditation.

I look forward to having a Public Art gallery in the Cowichan Valley where art can work its healing magic on visitors.

For more on Forest Bathing and nature therapy: