PORTALS opened to the hands and minds of Cowichan artists

Jewellery artist Susan Whyte is among the local artists displaying their work at PORTALS in the Island Savings Centre this month as part of the Visions show. - Maeve Maguire
Jewellery artist Susan Whyte is among the local artists displaying their work at PORTALS in the Island Savings Centre this month as part of the Visions show.
— image credit: Maeve Maguire

Thirteen artists are displaying their work at their Christmas Show and Sale at the Cowichan Valley Arts Council's Portals Centre of Arts, Culture and Heritage in the Island Savings Centre.

The artists are members of the Visions Studio Art Tour Society, a group of artists who open their studios once or twice a year for the public to view their work.

Susan Whyte, Visions treasurer and organizer of the event, said it is a Christmas sale but it's also a chance for the artists to show their work, and a chance for the public to buy meaningful and personal gifts for their loved ones.

"It's all locally made — all artists are local. We have five painters or photographers, three artists who are doing either woodwork or pottery, and five jewellers."

Whyte said she hopes having the exhibition in a gallery will bring more exposure to what the Visions members offer, and gives an opportunity for new people to see their work, those who haven't visited a studio tour.

Though the Portals gallery is relatively small as compared with other galleries in town, the artists are able to exhibit about 15 pieces each. As a bonus, some of the artists will be demonstrating their work, including silk painter Karen Nelson, and Whyte, who is a jeweller working with silver, copper and bronze.

"I do a series called Impressions of Trees, where I've taken the texture off local trees and incorporated them into my pieces. I've been working on this series for about a year and a half."

Whyte is organizing the event and volunteering at the gallery during the show. She said for the most part the artists are showing new pieces that have yet to be shown to the public.

Whyte said visitors to Portals include people dropping in while they visit the library or other Island Savings Centre facilities. Art prices reflect this eclectic audience, ranging from $10 to $900.

"There are a lot of prints in the show trying to keep the prices down for the painters."

Visions President Terri Harrison said the Visions group is a loosely knit non-profit, non-charitable registered society of artists and artisans. It all began when a small group of artists came together about 18 years ago to start a studio tour.

"Sometimes there were three tours in a year. There are more tours than years. It's maybe 18 years. Now we're doing the portals show instead of a tour at Christmas."

Harrison said it's rare for the artist to show their art together in the same place.

"This show is an example of us reaching out a little further than just our studio doors. We get to see each other's work. It's wonderful, because we usually don't get the opportunity."

Visit the Christmas Show and Sale at 2687 James Street, Duncan. Doors open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday. The show runs until Dec. 20.

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