The full gamut of outstanding artwork from across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands will be on display starting Saturday as part of the Ladysmith Fine Arts Show.
The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery’s parking lot was packed on Thursday as almost 300 submissions for the 8th biennial juried show rolled through the door to be sorted by volunteers.
Organized by the Arts Council of Ladysmith and District as well as the gallery, the 8th biennial show will feature both established and emerging artists.
Arts council president Kathy Holmes said the show always attracts some truly “fabulous art” from those with a high skill level.
“People really work hard to bring their very best to these fine art shows,” she said.
“It shows the public that in this area we have some pretty incredible artists – art is well and healthy in our community.”
The prestige of the show and chance at the $1,000 Best in Show prize has attracted virtuosos from as far north as Alert Bay, several from Pender, Saturna and Gabriola islands as well as more from all the way down to Victoria.
Because all the submissions are juried there will only be a finite amount that make it into the show, which runs from Feb. 3-24.
All the artwork is original and completed within the past 18 months and has not appeared in any other fine art show.
“That’s pretty exciting when you’re accepted into a show like this,” Holmes said.
Campbell River potter Ellen Statz was awarded Best in Show in 2016 for her piece that used a naked raku technique, whereby the outer shell of a slip falls off when it’s being fired.
There are three categories for the show: 2D, 3D, and photo-digital.
Over the weekend, judges Sean Sherstone, Luke Marston and Pamela Speight – all accomplished artists in their own right – evaluated all the submissions to pick out the very best.
“All three judges will have to pick the best in show, they all have to agree on a piece,” Holmes said.
“When they come down to the very end it’s all about the art – what strikes them – is it telling a story? is it moving you? is it absolutely gorgeous and beautiful? – that’s sort of what wins you over at the end.”
New for this year is the 19 sub-categories where artists can also win $500 for first prize and $100 for second.
“We wanted to encourage more jewelry, more sculptural items, and it’s really interesting to see what comes in,” Holmes said.
There will also be a Peoples’ Choice Award of $100 based on voting results from Saturday’s gala.
Holmes said that while the cash awards are a welcome bonus for the artists it’s also simply about testing limits.
“It’s really an education for the artist as well because they are comparing themselves to other artists. They often work alone in their studios and something like this they see what everybody else is doing,” she said.
“Every time you do this you kind of raise the bar. If an emerging artist was doing this they would really get a good indication of what people in their own discipline are doing.”
Up to 180 pieces will be part of the gala opening on Feb. 3, all depending on the size of the artwork being show.
The events starts at 7 p.m. and includes awards and refreshments.