Archive for November, 2009

Christmas at Hycroft Artisan Village

November 23, 2009

Detail of decoration on pottery, Nellie Vlaar

Each year, the University Women Club of Vancouver holds an event in their marvelous McRae heritage house called Hycroft, at 16th and Granville. It lasts for four days from Thursday to Sunday and people keep coming year after year to begin celebration of the Christmas season.
Little children come all dressed up so that they can sit on Santa’s knee. There is live music on piano and the Hycroft choir. Charity Boutiques – A thousand Villages, the local Vancouver Aquarium, UNICEF and Families for Children, to name a few, bring handcrafts and manufactured objects that people love to purchase for gifts or decoration for the home. There is lots of bling and glitter,  razz-ma-tazz and shine.

Downstairs in the former ballroom, the area is converted into a craft market with high end products in jewellry, ceramics, designer clothing and then some specialty wines and cooking products that are produced in small-batch, artisanal manner.

Here are a few of my favourite things that I saw:

From Nellie Vlaar, B.C. Potter,

I love her sense of pattern. Though she changes colour and glazes her pottery for practical use, I find many links between this and the New Mexican Pueblo artist, particularly in regard to the ever expanding geometric forms.

And  from Valerie Gobert:

Note that the last two photos are of the same piece of jewelry, but how different they appear on the different backgrounds.

Here’s the work of D’Arcy Margesson:

I liked the way this potter used kiln supports as the pillars between his display shelves.

And then from Mioara Stirbu, a clothing designer, these fabulous fashions:


The small works show

November 16, 2009

Forenote: I took all these photos without being able to control the lighting and there is a decided pink cast, especially to all those whose background is white.  I have tried to adjust as best as I can, but the colours are not absolutely accurate.

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House of Undelivered Kindnesses, assemblage, Betty Spackmann

I called the Fort Gallery this afternoon just shortly before one o’clock and spoke to the artist on gallery duty, asking about the new show.

“It’s salon style. There are lots of small works. Nothing can be more than 8 by 10 inches,” she replied.

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“And the price range?” I asked. I admire the work done by this collective of artists and hoped that my small budget would allow me to buy a piece of art work,  thinking that I might get a Christmas present for myself.

“The lowest price is $30 and the highest $175, at the moment. When something sells, the buyer takes it away and we put up new work. If you want to see the show, you might think about it sooner than later.  The art work is selling fast.”

I did think about it. I have been feeling a little neglected this week. I have a habit of calling Lizbet, my sister, every two or three days. She’s out of telephone and e-mail range, in Tahiti, warming her self in the sun. I miss the regular calls. Mrs. Stepford and her husband have gone for a weekend holiday. My daily calls to Mrs. S are suspended until she gets back – we just check on each other, don’t have long conversations, but I miss that too.

Hugh is at the end of his Masters program and is studying and writing so that he can complete it by early December. I don’t like to interrupt him too much and our conversations have been short.

It was time to grant myself an afternoon off. Within the half hour, I was in the car driving to Fort Langley to immerse myself in the dozens of little art works that were for sale. I came home with three of them –  a McMono by Dianna Durrand, a line drawing by Durrand and the third thing was an assemblage by Maggie Woycenko made of a made from linoleum tiles, screw-hole plugs, and some paper butterflies coated with metallic paint.

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Maggie Woycenko, Assemblage

It was a tough choice.  There were so many good pieces, but I took the time to find pieces that I felt would stand alone and that would meet my  budgetary restrictions.  I couldn’t go home with all the ones I liked. Even though I love some of the three dimensional pieces, I don’t have room to store them and so that affects my choices too.

Since this gallery is happy to have me blather on about their work, I’ll share a few of them with you here.

I love Betty Spackman’s ability to use of everyday objects to create such great works. There is always a good dose of humour; most of it is three dimensional.

In House of Undelivered Kindnesses, a bird cage is stuffed with little plastic doves with red beaks and beady eyes, some of them bursting out the door ready to deliver kindness (see photo at the top of this post). There is one entitled Wishbone looking very much like a small altar someone might pray at, with a statue of the Virgin Mary.

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Wish bone (above)  and Rib Tickler (below) , Assemblages, Betty Spackman

Another is named Setting one’s teeth on edge in which a row of animal teeth are placed on a diagonal across the picture plane; and yet another called Rib Tickler.  Several of these incorporate dried bones in the assemblage.

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Setting one’s teeth on edge, assemblage, Betty Spackman

Spackmann is not the only artist who prefers double entendre titles. Scott Gordon has a series of paintings of seed pods. The titles are: Bad Seeds; Spilled Beans, two toned; So cosy it’s hard to leave; Dancing Beans.

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Dianna Durrand shows a few of her McMono series where she has used the cardboard box for fries from McDonalds’ restaurant, flattened as the basis for oriental patterns that end up looking like kimonos. I find this both clever and funny. I bought one of these, framed, but it was also possible to buy several of these strung together in a mobile.

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Sock flowers, graphite, Dianna Durrand

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Pop Art, Dianna Durrand, pencil

Durrand has also done meticulous drawings of work gloves, pop can tabs, and sock flowers which I assume are images of sock pairs folded together for neat storage in one’s dresser drawers.

Terri Nurmi exhibited two works that also had appeared in the Hardware show, March 2009 at the Fort called Alice in Wonderland and there were some square wooden cradle panels where there is writing, maps and paint covered over with encaustic (wax).

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Fort Langley, mixed media with encaustic, Terri Nurmi

Amongst Judy Jones selection of small items are these framed works of fused glass with titles of Superficial, Simplified, Desperation and Optimistic. The lines are clean and modern and the colours clear and uplifting. They are crisply framed and selling for a very reasonable $80 each.

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Elaine Brewer-White, well known for her ceramic renditions of well known figures (another humourist in this crowd) offers up a series of ceramic mittens suspended on string.

Dorthe Eisenhardt’s abstracts, all 4 inch panels, look great all hung together. The colours are vibrant, almost glowing with life.

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And here is one, close up:

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Lucy Adams has an array of offerings, from her flower series and also a series of children playing in the snow.

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No Prawns today, Betty Laughy, acrylic on canvas approx 11 x 14

Betty Laughy is showing several of her digital collages (photos) and two paintings in acrylic. I thought this view of the ramp to an empty dock was particularly well done and a very favorable price for a work that is not only meticulously realistic (and therefore probably quite time-intensive in the fabrication process) and also well framed.

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This one, also by Betty Laughy is a digital print on canvas. I like the circular motion that has been set up in this image. One’s eye gets trapped in the leaves and always finds a very comfortable way to stay in the picture.

Jo-ann Sheen’s contributed  two etchings in sepia colour to the show. They have an archeological feel to them, with bone wrapped with cord.

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The Maggie Woycenko image with the metallic painted butterflies (pictured at the beginning of this post) seems to be a one-off image, since the remainder of her works are oil paintings of sky that convey the dynamic movement and drama of clouds at various times of day.

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This show worth a good, long look ( was there more than an hour inspecting all the different pieces) and it’s possible to pick up a small and very reasonably priced work of art for your collection.

The Fort Gallery is located at  9048 Glover Road in Fort Langley, B.C.  The web-site for the gallery is