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Gallery shows let you reflect on beauty of Greater Victoria nature

January shows convey mindfulness, calmness and finding the beauty in the simple
Terry Fenton, “Glory, McNeill Bay Trial Island”, oil on board, 18.5 x 30 in. (Courtesy Madrona Gallery)

With the new year upon us, artworks at galleries across Greater Victoria this month remind us to reflect and meditate on the little joys around us.

At the Avenue Gallery, three featured artists bring diversity to the space with humorous stone sculpting, abstract acrylics and energetic expressionism. These artists each have very diverse backgrounds nurturing their creative meditations.

Jo-Anne Westerby was born in Ottawa, raised in Victoria, schooled in Montreal, careered in Ontario and now calls Nanaimo her home. Her abstract acrylic style reflects the Pacific Northwest forests, the oceans and her garden, playing with her “soft fascination” for nature in a way that conveys mindfulness and calmness.

“I love the immensity and the minutiae of the mossy rainforest floor, of the ripples and reflections in water, and of the colours and patterns of flowers and foliage,” she said. “By opening my senses and lingering in nature I bridge the gap between nature and myself and find my ‘small self’ over and over again,” Westerby said.

Jo-Anne Westerby, “Ayesha”, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 in. (Courtesy The Avenue Gallery)

Self-taught stone sculptor of Métis descent, Vance Theoret, began his carving career over 35 years ago. He is inspired by the work of the Inuit, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin.

“I like to let the stone tell me what it wants to be,” he said. “When I do this, the end product is so much more alive than if I had forced my design upon it! [It] puts colours and patterns in places that you couldn’t plan any better.

“I carve wildlife, especially bears and owls as I find them a good vehicle for my sense of humour. Although I take my work seriously, I try not to take myself too seriously… so much of my work has a light playfulness about it,” Theoret said.

Vance Theoret, Making Tracks, Brazilian and Indian soapstone base, 9.5 x 13 x 8 in. (Courtesy The Avenue Gallery)

Contemporary, impressionist and expressionist artist Eunmi Conacher expresses a desire to create paintings that bring energy to the canvas.

She has studied at Hongik University in Seoul, Korea, The University of Sydney, Australia, and the University of Tsukuba in Japan. Since immigrating to Canada over 20 years ago, Conacher has lived in Whistler, Nanaimo, and now calls Sooke home. The inspiration for her work comes from the natural beauty of Vancouver Island.

Visit to discover the works of these artists.

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From Jan. 13-26, Terry Fenton’s landscapes will be on display at Madrona Gallery. For over 30 years, Fenton has painted the landscapes of the prairies and West Coast. As part of and an advocate of the Modernist movement, he uses non-conventional design choices.

Fenton – former director of the Edmonton Art Gallery, the A.C. Leighton Foundation in Calgary and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon – will be at the opening reception on Jan. 13 from 1-3 p.m.

Terry Fenton, “Siren Song, Tofino”, oil on board, 8.25 x 39 in. (Courtesy Madrona Gallery)

From Jan. 20 to Feb. 3, Madrona Gallery will feature the work of master watercolourist Toni Onley.

Never-before-seen work will be provided by the Onley estate. The collection highlights Onley’s innate ability to distill the most important parts of a landscape into a powerful visual language. Onley’s love of travel unites this collection of work, ranging from the landscapes of his home on the West Coast to those of Europe, England, and across North America.

Visit for more.

Toni Onley, “Overcast, Gulf Island”, 1996, 11 x 15 in. (Courtesy Madrona Gallery)

Throughout January, West End Gallery is featuring West Coast artists who look to their backyards for inspiration. These paintings feature the diversity of the landscape and still life.

Participating artists include Steven Armstrong, Cameron Bird, Naomi Cairns, Rod Charlesworth, Ken Faulks, David Graff, Greta Guzek, Madison Hart, Dana Irving, Patricia Johnston, Paul Jorgensen, Mary Ann Laing, Grant Leier, Maria Medina, Elka Nowicka, John Ogilvy, Paul Paquette, Ron Parker, Glenn Payan, Jenna Robinson, Peter Shostak, Jeannette Sirois, Blu Smith and Peter Wyse.

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Paul Paquette, “Natures Garden”, oil on canvas, 24x36 in. (Courtesy West End Gallery)

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In what ways has the artistic approach to The Nude changed over time and how do different artists paint this timeless subject? Art lovers can find out at Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s current exhibit titled In The Flesh which explores the nude in art, past and present.

Running until March 31, the exhibition brings together more than one hundred works ranging from historical greats such as Renoir, Rodin, Picasso and Henry Moore to modern and contemporary Indigenous and Canadian artists, including Pat Martin Bates, Ivan Eyre, Evergon, Michael Morris, Susan Point and Carole Sabiston.

One artist whose new work The AGGV is “especially proud to present” as stated on its website is Andrew Moncrief. Born in 1987, Moncrief questioned from an early age rigid interpretations of masculinity and now challenges these interpretations through art while exploring identity and queerness. He is originally from Vancouver Island and currently lives and exhibits in Berlin, Germany

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Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
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