In front of the elevator at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Victoria, Carole Scagel paints a portrait of a cow on a stretched canvas. The colourful paintings of farm animals and wildlife already hanging in the lobby are hers.
Scagel is one of the artists in residence taking part in the annual Artishow initiative, which places local artists at a handful of hotels for the summer and early fall months to introduce tourists to Victoria’s art scene.
Kerry Liggins and then-Oak Bay Artist Laureate, Barbara Adams, started Artishow in 2010 because they wanted Victoria to be known as a city of artists. After many years of dedicated volunteer service, the two decided it was time to hand over their brainchild to the Victoria Arts Council.
Brin O’Hare, arts co-ordinator for the Arts Council, says the goal is to build on the success Artishow has previously known.
“Its mandate to enhance tourist experiences and support the local artistic community is something we wish to continue,” she says.
The results of that approach have been positive so far.
Scagel, a Vancouver native who lives on Mayne Island, says tourists are very curious about the silk dying she does on her days of residency (Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
“In the morning, hotel guests see me start my painting and at the end of the day, after they come back from their touristy activities, they want to see the final product,” Scagel says.
In upcoming years, the council hopes to expand Artishow, as the group has more services and reach than former co-ordinators Liggins and Adams on their own. “We want to get more hotels and artists involved,” says O’Hare, noting that new venues are still being worked out.
“The goal of Artishow isn’t to promote sales of local artists,” she adds, but this seems to be one of the positive outcomes for the artists in residence.
“I sold two of my paintings to an interior designer in Toronto and I sell prints and cards every day,” says Scagel. Although it is nice to increase sales, the biggest takeaway for her is the opportunity to interact with an audience, as painting can sometimes be an isolated experience.
Scagel’s paintings are drawings of photographs she has taken at her favourite spot, the Georgina Point lighthouse on Mayne Island. “When I sit there, I see amazing wildlife like orcas, seals, eagles and lots of lots of deer.”
This year 20 local artists and four hotels are involved in the project. You can see artists at work until October at the Delta Ocean Pointe, Parkside Hotel & Spa and Oak Bay Beach Hotel. The Hotel Grand Pacific is participating for the summer months. Residencies run at different times and days of the week, depending on the artist.
For more information you can check the schedule online at artishowvictoria.ca.