In a year where so many things are different, Island Mountain Arts (IMA) has found a way to continue its annual Wells Works exhibition to celebrate local artists and makers in the Wells area.
Wells Works: Separate, but Together opened Dec. 10 at the IMA Public Gallery and features 26 works from 13 different artists and makers. Artists of all ages have contributed to the show, including two nine-year-olds.
Elyssia Sasaki, IMA’s executive and artistic director, says this year’s exhibition features a wide variety of works, including summer and winter scenes from Wells in a variety of mediums; abstract paintings and glassworks; humorous, thoughtful cartoons; mouth-watering interpretations of macarons and croissants; screen-printed portraits; broody and contemplative owl paintings and some intensely-detailed Lego models of mining equipment.
“It feels pretty good to have about six per cent of the population on the walls, and I hope to keep meeting creators and makers,” says Sasaki, who began her new position at IMA at the end of October. “I think that my favourite moments of preparing for this show have been the moments of exchange I’ve had with the artists. Folks have generously donated their time to submit their works and their biographies, but in the handover of the artworks, you get really interesting stories about the journeys people have taken to find their way to painting, drawing, printing, building, etc. Some folks have been creating pretty continuously for the past 30 years, and some folks are dipping their toes back in after a long hiatus, so it’s nice to showcase folks that are in a variety of different places in their respective journeys.”
Sasaki says there is something about hanging a show that breathes life into a gallery space, and she and Oryanna Ross, IMA’s program co-ordinator and financial administrator, agree it feels great to have the IMA Public Gallery “feel alive again.”
“It’s always lovely to celebrate the work of your neighbours, the people you see walking their dogs and taking their kids to school,” she said. “For a year that has felt really difficult and, at times, dark, I think there are a lot of ways that the works that have been created and submitted to this show find beauty and light and the humour/absurdity of where and who we are.”
Sasaki is also happy they have been able to invite the community into the space in a COVID-19-friendly way.
”Sometimes conversations get lost in translation with our masks on, but folks seem to be getting a lot out of their visits, and we’re really grateful that everyone is doing their part to keep other visitors and staff healthy and safe,” she said.
This year’s exhibition features works by Peter Corbett, Lindsay Kay, Ian Douglas, Bill Horne, Connor Kenney, Ella Blue Read, Sierra Leroy, Danette Boucher, Ellen Partnoy, Claire Kujundzic, Caroline Anders, Dirk Van Stralen and Ben Blanchard.
Many of these artists are selling the works featured in the Wells Works exhibition, and several have their own galleries or websites where you can support them if you would like to.
Claire Kujundzic has a website at claireart.ca, and until July 2021, she will continue to sell her art at Amazing Space Studio and Gallery in Wells, along with her partner, Bill Horne, whose work can also be found online at bill-horne.net.
Ian Douglas can be found at lastditchmining.ca.
Caroline Anders can be found at morselsmoveablefeast.com. Look for Morsels Moveable Feast on Instagram to find out when Anders is offering pop-up shops for her baking and her art.
To learn more about Dirk Van Stralen, visit vanstralen.design. Van Stralen has just published a collection of his daily pandemic cartoons called Keep Calm and Bury On: A selective history of a plague year.
Ben Blanchard has his own gallery, The Owl’s Roost, across the street from IMA in Wells, and his work can be found online at etsy.com/ca/shop/Conglomerationofowls.
Wells Works: Together, but Separate runs until Jan. 24 at the IMA Public Gallery at 2323 Pooley St. in Wells. The gallery is now closed for Christmas holidays but will re-open Thursday, Jan. 7. From Jan. 7-24, the exhibition can be seen Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Masks are required, and gallery visitors must sign in and sanitize when they arrive.
For more information, visit support-imarts.com.