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Art takes a personal tone during the 110th anniversary of the Victoria Sketch Club

The 47th annual art show is taking place until March 24
Anne Bowen stands in front of her painting of pregnant zebras, inspired by a recent trip to Tanzania. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Virginia Hutzuliak has been working on a series of paintings called “Friends” in order to commemorate the people who supported her while she was undergoing chemotherapy.

“I had 16 months of chemo and radiation,” Hutzuliak said as she stood before her painting, titled “High Tea,” which showed three ladies enjoying afternoon tea together. “So I’ve been doing a series of paintings of friends going through things together. It’s a celebration of friends.”

Just moments later, some of her very own friends purchased the painting, surprising Hutzuliak and bringing tears to her eyes.

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Hutzuliak’s paintings were on display at the 110th annual Victoria Sketch Club art show and sale. The prestigious club has seen notable members such as Emily Carr, Jack Shadbolt, Max Maynard, Samual Maclure and Ted Harrison. While the club has held several names, it’s been the Victoria Sketch Club for 47 years, and hosted the event at the Glenlyon-Norfolk elementary school for the same amount of time.

Members may join after a panel of judges analyzes their work, though any style of painting can be included. Artists joining the club as official members are expected to have a fairly good grasp of painting, explained president Larry Gollner, so that the weekly meetings can allow artists to learn from each other.

“Because artists are all trained when they join, they all paint differently,” Gollner said. “Sometimes we’ll be at a scene and ask them to paint it, and you’ll get 40 different images.”

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Gollner himself is one of seven honorary members, while there are 43 official members.

“I have no formal training other than a wife who keeps a grip on me,” he laughed. “But, if you have a truck being involved in an art club … that helps.”

At this year’s show there are 162 paintings on display, and usually 30 or 40 will sell, helping to fund the club’s activities.

Content varies from a heavy focus on West Coast landscapes, to scenes from across the world.

Anne Bowen’s painting of a line of pregnant zebras was inspired by her recent trip to the Serengeti.

“I went on a trip to Tanzania in January and all the wildebeests and zebras were pregnant, and they were just so comical because they were trying to get into a position of comfort,” Bowen said. When asked how long it had taken her to make the painting, she laughed.

“I feel like it’s taken me eight years to paint it, because it’s taken me eight years to figure out how to do it.”

The show continues daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Sunday, March 24 when it closes at 4 p.m., in the Glenlyon-Norfolk School gym, Beach Drive Campus at 1701 Beach Dr.

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Virginia Hutzuliak stands in front of her painting “High Tea.” She’s been working on a series of paintings called “Friends” to commemorate all the support she received from her friends while undergoing chemotherapy. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)