A new exhibit at the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake explores aspects of living in a port city created by artists Valerie Arntzen and Lori Sokoluk.
The two women had studios next door to each other in Vancouver and collaborated to produce the show’s dozen pieces.
“One of us would start and pass it on to the other or sometimes we worked together at the same time,” said Arntzen. “Lori would add a photo transfer for example and then I’d add some paint or some objects.”
Describing Sokoluk as a fantastic drawer with an architectural background, and an amazing painter, Arntzen explained she does assemblage art but is not a painter.
“It was really nice to see both of our artistic loves appear on one piece. It was such a fun project.”
She said they delved into each of their own visual libraries to bring photographs to the table and would then choose ones to build a piece around.
Any of the freighter photographs were taken by Arntzen — she and her husband have a sail boat and love to explore Vancouver’s English Bay and view all the boats anchored nearby.
“They are so bizarre and wonderful and so many emotions tied to what goes on with freighters.”
Sokoluk has since moved to Smoky Lake, Alta. after living in Vancouver for almost 20 years.
She said she also had fun working on with Arntzen on the pieces.
Describing the process of collaborating on the exhibit as playful, Sokoluk said normally she’s a landscape painter and it can take anywhere from six to 40 layers of paint to complete one painting.
“Val works in a much more direct kind of way so we sort of met in the middle — it was very immediate. It was more about bigger, bolder compositional moves as opposed to building up subtle layers and things.”
Chuckling, Sokoluk said she still did try and sneak in some subtle aspects in places.
On collaboration number one, for example, she added subtle complexities which she likes to have in places.
Making visual art is normally a solo endeavour so working collaboratively was rewarding, she added.
“Val’s a lot of fun to be with. It was great.”
Arntzen visits the Cariboo regularly. Her mom, Eleanor Burns lives at Seniors Village in Williams Lake, and before that lived in 108 Mile Ranch for several years, near her daughter and Arntzen’s sister. The Station House Gallery hosted an exhibit of Arntzen’s work in 2018.
She said she just completed another collaboration with her husband where they deconstructed and reconstructed musical instruments that people have given them over the years into wall sculptures.
“I really enjoy collaboration. I find that I learn a lot and it helps me in my own practice and gives me a leg up,” Arntzen said.
An artist for 30 years, she has exhibited her works in Vancouver, Los Angeles, New Zealand, Brazil, New York, Amsterdam and various B.C. towns. Her gallery — Amp Studio in Strathcona hosts new artists regularly.
She is also credited with co-ordinating the Eastside Cultural Crawl from 1999 to 2003, and being a visual arts rep for the Eastside Culture Crawl Society from 2004 to 2009 as well as for the City of Vancouver Spaces Committee in 2008 and 2009.
Sokoluk studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and privately. Her works are included in private and institutional collections in Canada, U.S., Japan, Pakistan, India and the U.K. She is also an art instructor and prior to attending art school completed a master’s of architecture and has a background in urban design.
Side by Side Together will remain the gallery until May 29, 2021.