If you’re an art enthusiast looking for the next wave of talent to hit the scene, look no further than Oak Bay.
The Bowker Creek Brush-Up hosts plenty of established artists each year, but it’s also become a great place for up-and-comers to share their work with the public, in some cases for the very first time.
The annual Oak Bay artists’ showcase, which marks its seventh year this Sunday (Aug. 7), includes a trio of youth eager to make their mark in this thriving artistic hub.
Lynda Shipley, Jessica Horrocks and Dorone Smith all make their Brush-Up debuts this year.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially for young artists, because it’s hard to get exposure,” Smith said. “This is a great way to meet other artists and potential buyers. But as much as it’s about selling art, it’s an opportunity to go look at art. It’s like an art gallery outside.”
Smith, heading into Grade 12 at Oak Bay High, draws inspiration from the wealth of talent in his backyard.
“I love the fact that I can walk down Oak Bay Avenue during the day perusing the galleries, and I can look at art books in the used book store,” he said. “It’s such an active body of work.”
Brush-Up organizer Flo-Elle Watson says making room for emerging artists like Smith helps the artistic community grow and thrive.
“We’ve had youth artists who started at 16, and now they’re in their 20s and they keep coming back,” she said. “Now some of them have drawn interest from Oak Bay galleries that want to display their work – and they got their start here.”
One of those artists is Caitlin Ambery. Now 24, Ambery says her first experience at the Brush-Up, in 2007, was an invaluable way to get her work seen.
“It’s a good way for people walking through to see your work when they may never have a chance,” she said. “Especially for young artists who haven’t had a chance to be in a gallery.”
Ambery knows well the interest that an event like the Brush-Up can generate. Since her debut she’s had paintings displayed in a number of places around Greater Victoria, including a joint show with fellow Brush-Up returnee Garrett Pettersen at the McPherson Theatre.
This year Ambery is previewing some of her pieces that will be on display at the Victoria Emerging Art Gallery this fall.
And if estimates are accurate, a great many people will get a glimpse.
“Last year we had about 3,500 visitors,” said Watson. “This year we’re expecting close to 4,000.”
A total of 37 artists will be displaying their work at the Brush-Up, which takes place alongside Bowker Creek between Hampshire Road and Armstrong Avenue.
Also included on the roster this year are guest artists Brian Simons, Pat Martin-Bates, Martin Machacek, Ted Harrison and Mark Heine.
On top of the art lining the creek walkway, there will be displays by three environmental groups plus a pair of food vendors – Oak Bay Rotary Club is running a barbecue, while Crumsby’s will be selling coffee, muffins and other baked goods.
As the Brush-Up has expanded, so has its reach.
“I was in Courtenay recently and I talked to some people that drive down just for the event,” Watson said. “It’s great to know it’s drawing people in from different areas.”
The 7th annual Bowker Creek Brush-Up takes place on Aug. 7 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission is free. Walking or biking to the event is encouraged, as street parking is limited. There is no parking available at Oak Bay High.