For the past 15 years, skiers on Silver Star Mountain’s Aberdeen Skiway have, perhaps unknowingly, whisked past a treasure trove.
Located among the hill’s alpine, Nordic and snowshoe trails is a little art gallery filled with contemporary paintings and sculpture in all manner of mediums.
Owned by longtime Silver Star residents Kalman and Maria Molnar, Gallery Odin is celebrating its 15th winter exhibition with two new artists who join the gallery’s long list of Okanagan and B.C. supporters.
Rod Charlesworth and Peter Stuhlmann are painters who capture the still beauty of their respective landscapes.
For oil painter Charlesworth, who was born in northern B.C. and moved to the Okanagan at a young age, it was the surrealists who influenced his earliest paintings.
He later discovered the works of the impressionists, which has taken him to his current artistic interests experimenting with colour and physical qualities of paint. Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven have also had a profound influence on his work.
“I must say that if I had waited for a bright shaft of light to awaken my artistic senses and stir me to create, I would probably have created nothing,” said Charlesworth. “What initially inspired me to paint was how we all see the world differently. I wanted to strike my own visual language that could be used to portray the Canadian landscape in all of its rugged subtleties.”
Known for his bold landscapes and his whimsical images of children at play, Charlesworth says he is committed to providing his viewers with a refreshing, often celebratory approach. His work consciously comments on beauty and the ephemeral within the landscape, done so in a manner of mark making which is unique to his visual vocabulary.
“Painting becomes tedious when the ultimate goal is to recreate the external work. I have always felt that the painting exists only within its own borders. This allows the curious mind of the artist to ask, ‘what if I did this?’,” he said.
Charlesworth has had numerous solo exhibitions in B.C. and Alberta and has taken part in several group shows. He is affiliated with 14 galleries, has written 10 publications, and has received several special awards.
His work is collected worldwide.
Stuhlmann began drawing at age four in his native Germany.
“I broke my leg that summer and had to keep off my feet for eight weeks. I was given a generous stack of paper and coloured pencils, and from there happily amused myself,” he recalled.
Stuhlmann says he displayed a knack for art, although no one made any mention to that effect.
“Something had fallen into place, however. I felt differently when drawing than I did doing anything else,” he said.
After moving to Montreal at the age of eight, Stuhlmann told his father that he wanted to be an artist. The answer came back in no uncertain terms.
He said ‘no.’ I didn’t argue, and swept the idea from my mind,” said Stuhlmann, who ended up pursuing a career as a professional chef in Ontario, but kept drawing with the occasional, hesitant painting sprinkled throughout.
In 2007, Stuhlmann moved to his then fiance’s home province of B.C. and settled in Scotch Creek in the North Shuswap.
“The first winter there I could not find work cooking and so, together, much of the time was spent in the surrounding bush exploring,” he said.
After taking a beginner’s course in acrylic painting given by a local artist, Stuhlmann discovered fluid acrylic paints and with tiny brushes on tiny canvases, he started creating what would become his signature style.
“The canvases grew slowly to 8-by-10-inches, the brushes didn’t, and I was forced to enter a local show. I say forced because it was true. I insisted I would never show my pictures.”
His wife, Diane, disagreed, and Stuhlmann ended up selling all the paintings on display and was invited to join the Federation of Canadian Artists and won his first award soon after.
“Today the canvases are a fair bit bigger, but the brushes still aren’t. It turns out that I am rather obsessive in how I apply paint, which is in layers of tiny dots, pointillism, but without a view to colour theory as with Seurat, et al. I do it for the texture look it gives. It’s a look that bristles with potential energy.”
Now living in Chase, Stuhlmann prefers to paint from memory, which he says is inherently more genuine and immediate. He has also started including figures in his landscapes.
“I never, or very rarely, make preparatory sketches or drawings, preferring to draw directly… I paint by looking inward, not out at the actual landscape. Human memory is deeply flawed, and therefore inherently more interesting. The paintings that come from these flaws are more interesting still,” he said.
Other artists participating in Odin’s 15th annual winter exhibition are Bonnie Anderson, Iean Dobson, Glenn Clark, Karel Doruyter, Edward Epp, Lynn Grillmair, Ginny Hall, Wendy Hart Penner, Peter Lawson, Jerry R. Markham, Elizabeth Moore, Sharda Murray-Kieken, Destanne Norris, Dawn Piche, Barry Rafuse, Dana Roman, Al Scott, Todd Regan White, Deborah Wilson and Charlene Woodbury.
Opening receptions take place Thursday, Nov. 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 26 from 2 to 6 p.m.
Gallery Odin is located at 215 Odin Rd. off Monashee Road at Silver Star Mountain. Winter hours are Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1 to 6 p.m. or call 250-503-0822 for an appointment.
More information is available at galleryodin.com.