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Fundraising online auction for Island Mountain Arts closes Nov. 22

Thirty-eight lots feature art from Robert Bateman, Peter Corbett, Bill Horne, Toni Onley and others
The Bridge is a linocut with watercolour work by Mo Hamilton, a Prince George artist who presented her 100 Houses Project at the Island Mountain Arts (IMA) Gallery in Wells in early 2019. This is Lot 27 in the IMA fundraising online art auction, which runs until Nov. 22. (Island Mountain Arts Facebook Photo)

If you’re looking for new artwork for either yourself or a gift for a loved one and want to support Island Mountain Arts at the same time, there are still a handful of days left to bid on 38 pieces of art through a fundraising online auction.

The auction is being run through 4th Meridian Fine Art, and it ends on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Anyone interested in placing a bid can do so at Proceeds from the first 38 lots on the website will go to Island Mountain Arts (IMA) in Wells.

Bids will start to close at Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. PST, closing one at a time beginning with Lot 1 and moving on until Lot 38.

“It’s super curious - with a live auction, you’ve got the gavel and the bidding wars sort of unfold in front of you in real time; whereas, on an online site, you might not see a lot of action right now, but we expect in the next couple of days, it will probably pick up a little bit, as people are waiting to see who does what,” said IMA executive and artistic director Elyssia Sasaki. “It’s almost like it comes down to how fast your upload speeds are and how quickly you’re able to get information through.”

Auction items include a wide variety of works from artists in Wells and Quesnel, artists who have exhibited in Wells in the past or have participated in IMA’s Toni Onley Artists’ Project and many others. Works by Robert Bateman, Peter Corbett, Bill Horne, Bill Featherston, Esther Colton, Frederick J. Brown, Kim Ondaatje, Malcolm Morley, Pnina Granirer, David Mikkelson, Philip Pearlstein, Mo Hamilton, Michael Sandle, Kristen Krimmel, Judith A. DesBrisay, Peter Corbett, Toni Onley, Edward Clark Porter, Nora Curiston, Sarah Zimmerman and Al Colton are being auctioned off.

“The art that’s in the auction typically comes from many different donation sources,” explained Sasaki. “I think Island Mountain Arts has built some really beautiful relationships over the years with artists. Some of them are estate donations, so we get them after an artist has passed away; some of them are outright donations from artists. Sometimes, artists will donate something for our personal collection. Sometimes, individuals will have pieces that they will give to us as well. A lot of past [Toni Onley Artists’ Project] mentors, a lot of people who donated after coming to ArtsWells, a lot of students of the Toni Onley Artists’ Project, some of it’s regional artists. Of course, we have our board members that source donations for us as well. We’re lucky to have folks on our board that are well connected in the art community and also quite philanthropic with their time to help make things like this possible.”

The money raised by the auction will help IMA support artists and provide programming.

“I think the goal is to find ways to help support artists that are involved with IMA operations, whether it’s being able to provide extra scholarships for somebody to, say attend the Toni Onley Artists’ Project, or help with their accommodations while they’re here, or things like that,” said Sasaki. “It becomes a piece of funding we can use to assist with artists being able to either do more work or to be here and do the work.”

At the same time as the online auction is taking place, submissions are now open for IMA’s annual Wells Works exhibition, which celebrates the work of local artists.

Artists who would like to submit their work for the exhibition can do so through a Google form at Anyone who does not have a gmail email address or who is having problems with the form can call the IMA office at 250-994-3466 and ask for Elyssia for help.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday, Dec. 3.

The exhibition will run Dec. 10 to Jan. 24 at the IMA Gallery.

This will be Sasaki’s first Wells Works exhibition. She was hired as IMA’s new artistic director and executive director Oct. 31 after working on contract for a couple of months.

“I’m really excited about Wells Works because I’ve slowly been getting to meet people especially here in the area and trying to reach out,” she said. “I think it’s great timing to have local and regional art on the walls, especially coming into this time of the season when we’re starting to see our snowmobilers come by and Barkerville’s Christmas activities are going to start up. It’s a nice way to showcase the people who make this a really beautiful place to live.”

For more information, visit the Island Mountain Arts Facebook page.

Sasaki comes to Wells after working in the arts sector in the Yukon, and she says it’s been “wonderful” so far. Before officially starting her new position, Sasaki was involved in IMA’s Northern Exposure virtual conference in late October, and she feels that was a great introduction to the B.C. arts ecosystem, which she says is quite different from the Yukon.

“It definitely is a bit of a learning curve coming into the B.C. landscape, but I feel like every person I’ve talked to has been like ‘if you ever need a hand with something, just let me know,’ and it feels super genuine and wonderful to have that connection already and very lucky,” she said. “As far as Wells goes, Wells is the most Yukon place I’ve ever been to outside the Yukon, almost right down to that 1930s mining town architecture. I think the mountains are maybe a bit bigger in the Yukon, but the landscape is similar, all of the outdoor stuff that’s in this area that’s so phenomenal like the cross country skiing and the snowshoeing and stuff like that, it all very much reminds me of that area. But I think the sunsets are kind of different and in a good way.”

READ MORE: Northern Exposure conference builds connections, even through a screen

Sasaki was first introduced to the work IMA was doing when she met former executive and artistic director Julie Fowler at the N3 conference in the Yukon.

“I think that Julie leaves massive shoes to be filled,” Fowler said. “She’s a huge community-builder and has advocated for a lot of different things in the arts in small regions and large regions alike. I’m very inspired by the work that’s happened, and I think it’s wonderful to come back to British Columbia to be able to work in a smaller region that has, there’s such a wealth of resources here, and I want to find ways to use it all to help artists, to help them create and have space to go through process and to perform and the whole iceberg instead of just the tip of it. I think this is a very special corner of the world where you can kind of stop and take the time to do that … I think that really, really amazing work can come out of places like this — can and does. It already does.”

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