A painting from Jo Willems' Fare Forward, now showing at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre. (Marissa Tiel/ Revelstoke Review)

Jo Willems learns to age gracefully in her new exhibit, ‘Fare Forward’

The exhibition will be on display alongside GASP student photos and Entertaining Angels

In 2001, Jo Willems was out exploring the trails around Revelstoke when she started to struggle partway up a mountain.

“I was thinking, this is hard. Do I really want to climb to the top of that peak,” she says.

Instead of continuing up the mountain, she sat down on a rock.

“And I did this painting instead and I said no, I don’t and it’s OK,” says Willems.

She painted the landscape without a bottom, and began a process called decathect. Decathect is to withdraw your feelings of attachment in anticipation of a future loss.

“We decathect as we age,” says Willems. “If we do that, then aging becomes graceful.”

That painting from 2001 started Willems on a journey that is displayed in her new show, “Fare Forward,” which is on display at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre until Nov. 24.

The 30 or so paintings included in the show are all connected with aging and resolving our existence gracefully, she says.

“Even though all of these pictures are pretty pictures, the process in them is deeply personal,” she says.

The paintings are all beautiful landscapes depicting local vistas and are uniquely framed by her husband, Grant Willems.

“Every one of these paintings is a place I go to all the time,” says Willems.

In Because I Can, Willems plays around with her role as creator in the painting. She combines low-altitude trees with an alpine landscape and adds snow into an autumn scene. The result is a tongue-in-cheek picture.

“I played with all the seasons in one painting because I can,” she says.

In another painting, she struggled with getting all the elements right. On a trail called River Run, she says there’s a puddle that appears in the forest for only a handful of days in the spring. She wanted to paint it forever, but never could.

Then, she completed a series of reflection studies – also included in the show – and finally, she was able to paint it.

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In the adjoining gallery, Kathleen Hammond’s “Entertaining Angels” is on display.

Hammond says she had never painted like that before. Ink, sure. Pencil, definitely. She had painted on windows and furniture before, but after a watercolour get-together, she began using the technique in her art.

Many of her images depict children, angels and hands.

“I think there’s a comfort in that, knowing that there’s something bigger than ourselves,” she says.

She uses her art to help process what’s going on in the world.

“Often times, there’s lots of stuff going on in the world and I have a hard time with that,” she says.

Hammond plans to keep exploring with her work.

“I don’t know what’s going to come out of me next,” she says. “That’s what’ll keep me wondering.”

“Entertaining Angels” and Revelstoke Secondary School student photographs from the Glacier Adventure Stewardship Program will also be on display until Nov. 24 at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre.

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