Painter Jessa Gilbert said she it wasn’t until she moved to B.C. from Vermont that she really understood what it meant to be in the wilderness and this understanding is now visible in her latest show.
Gilbert’s exhibition Flux, at the Revelstoke Visual Art Centre, explores change and movement.
“It’s looking back to these natural elements to find a foothold and find beauty in changing,” she said.
All except two of the paintings in the exhibition were done out in the elements or based on sketch that Gilbert did while on an adventure.
“There’s a lot that we miss when we take a photograph,” she said. “A photo exists in a couple seconds, perhaps, of that day, whereas if you’re sitting there and watching the clouds move and the sunrise and fall you have a different appreciation for the feeling of it.”
Gilbert studied studio art and art history in university, planning on falling back on it when she was old and washed up and no longer a semi-pro snowboarder.
“Turns out old and broken is like, 23,” she said, with a laugh.
A serious knee injury kept her out of the backcountry and she turned to painting. Art became a way to explore the landscape.
As she healed her two loves converged. She found herself looking at the mountains with the curiosity of an adventurer and an artist. She asked herself, where does the next ridge lead? How do the forms line up? What is the colour scheme here? How would you showcase it?
“I hope that the pieces become a catalyst to go out and experience the outdoors for their own sake or to see how special and important they are and how much we need to advocate,” she said.
Meagan Oxford, another artist currently showing her work at the gallery, studied art in London, Ont. She also had an awe-inspired moment when she reached the mountains, by train, in 2011.
“I knew I had found my home,” she said.
While in school she painted figures: animals and women. That evolved to painting her surroundings when she moved to B.C.
The mountains are so majestic, I have to pay homage to them, she said.
Oxford spends summers in her studio painting and winters managing the bar at Revelation Lodge. She described it as a good balance between secluding herself to create art and socializing.
“I was just going art for a couple of years,” she said. “But I found I stopped calling my friends and it got a little depressing.”
Despite making part of her living on art, she said money never influences her art.
“My love for painting trumps everything, at the end of the day I don’t care if people like it or not because at the end of the day that is what I have to do to make my soul happy,” she said.
Inspired by Degas
Sandra Flood’s exhibition is the third currently on display at the Revelstoke Visual Art Centre in September.
What started off as a piece for the ‘Inspired by…’ members show, grew into a collection of paintings depicting the Royal Ballet, London.
“For me, it has been an absorbing journey into another life, and a life-saver during this pandemic,” Flood wrote in her artist talk.
Flood took inspiration from Edgar Degas who lived from 1834-1917 and painted the dancers of the Paris Opera House.
However, where he was able to watch the dancers live, Flood relied on videos. She created sketches from the videos and transferred them to the canvas using a grid.
“Once the sketch is transferred to the canvas, I add areas of thin colour to clarify the dancers’ shapes and positions, and to get an overall idea of the painting. From then on it is a matter of refining, referring to the video for more detail, correcting, redrawing and building up the colour to give the dancers weight and dimension,” she said.
You can see Flood, Gilbert and Oxford’s work at the Revelstoke Visual Art Centre until Oct. 1. The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.