Even before they wrap up their Mayday For My Children art show at St. Joseph’s Art Studio Gallery, Barry Strasbourg-Thompson and Gail Holland have confirmed new studio space at Saltair.
The new art exhibition ran from March 27 to April 3. Halfway between those dates, Strasbourg-Thompson announced that he and Holland had finalized rental agreements on March 31 and began moving in the next day to a 1,750-square-foot space at 10519 Knight Rd. near the Saltair pub.
“Saltair Art Studio will offer contemporary artwork, art studio commissions, expert art lessons, expertly designed picture framing and a unique art gallery,” Strasbourg emphasized. -Thompson.
The move was necessitated by the eventual takeover of the St. Joseph site by the Cowichan Valley Intentional Recovery Community Society, which is still tentatively set to go into effect at the end of June. Strasbourg-Thompson, Holland, and the other building artists actively sought alternate locations in anticipation of the change.
It is possible that the deadline could be extended, but Strasbourg-Thompson and Holland did not want to wait until the last minute and are delighted that their alternative arrangements have materialized.
The two artists gave food for thought with their latest exhibition.
“Everything here has to do with this mayday theme,” Holland said. “It started on Saturday evening (March 27). We had a nice little opening, lots of people and lots of interesting conversations.
All of her works, “even all the little ones,” she said, “they have all been done lately.
Dutch art is done entirely in acrylic on canvas and some in silver leaf. “Sometimes I do acrylic on wood,” she added.
The theme of the show focused on the creative reuse of materials.
One particular Strasbourg-Thompson piece was exemplary, done in acrylic on 24-karat gold leaf. It incorporated two British Columbia license plates, a May 2019 sticker, two license plate holders, eight metal bolts, 19 wooden letters, powdered pigments, gels and molding pastes, a 1/4 inch wood sub-panel, metal screws and a thumbtack on a 36x36x2 inch Canvas.
“The inspiration is basically thinking about the over-packaging that we do and leaving it to our kids,” Strasbourg-Thompson said.
A panel on the exhibit further explained the concept, under the title Sustainability, Fear and Greed: “As I live my daily life and see the overpackaging that permeates my culture today and the waste that occurs in as by-products, I ask myself ‘How is this sustainable?’ ‘How can I change my habits and demand less packaging?’”
Excellent work in this area has been done by the Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto, one of the best art schools in the country, through its new president Ana Serrano, Strasbourg-Thompson pointed out. .
“We need to train future designers and artists to work with and make these changes,” he said. “Let’s be the voice we are mandated to be.”
Strasbourg-Thompson said all of his paintings to be displayed and sold at the exhibition were made within the last six months.
“I’m still working, there’s still a lot of work,” he said.
Strasbourg-Thompson also continues to hold regular courses for art students. “I teach them to be their authentic selves rather than their commercial selves,” he said.
“Art and life are meant to be the same word. We are moving away from teaching art to teaching people how to make a living out of it.
Strasbourg-Thompson’s busy exhibition schedule for the rest of the year includes an ongoing connection with Rainforest Arts at Chemainus and Arts On The Avenue at Ladysmith on Sunday 28 August. He will also head to Holland for a show at In The Beantime in Ladysmith from Sept. 1-Oct. 15 and at the Cowichan Community Center in Duncan in November.