The Nanaimo Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists show will include work (seen here cropped) by Jim McFarland, Cynthia Bonesky, Eunmi Conacher and Makaely (clockwise from top-left). (Photos courtesy NFCA)

Nanaimo artists bring art show to Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery

The Nanaimo Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists says there is no comparable venue in Nanaimo

For the next week pieces by professional Nanaimo-area artists will fill an art gallery in Ladysmith, but they would prefer to be showing their work closer to home.

The Nanaimo Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists is hold a spring show at the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery from Friday, April 13 to April 20 and at least 45 of the group’s 85 members will be displaying two-dimensional works of art, including paintings, prints and drawings.

NFCA spokesperson Alda Saunders said the group is renting the Ladysmith gallery because there are no comparable venues in Nanaimo.

“Nanaimo does not have a location, as many other cities and areas do, where we can continually show our art work… There isn’t one downtown that is all-inclusive,” she said.

As a result, Saunders said the group focuses on having one major local exhibition each year – their fall juried art show at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre – and members end up looking elsewhere for the chance to display their creations.

“Some of our members have to go outside of Nanaimo to continue to show their work, like in the Sooke art festival that’s coming up, or Arrowsmith or some other place up-Island to be able to have more than one opportunity per year to show,” she said.

Saunders said an ideal situation would resemble the arrangement in Ladysmith, where the town owns the building that houses the Waterfront Art Gallery but allows the non-profit Ladysmith Arts Council to use the gallery space for $1 annually on the condition that they maintain it and provide arts programming. The venue includes gallery, classroom and studio space, as well as a kitchen and a gift shop.

“The co-operation with our city council is just incredible. We’re really lucky, I think, and we really appreciate it,” said Kathy Holmes, president of the Ladysmith Arts Council.

“We thought when the performing arts theatre came online, the Port Theatre, that there was going to be a move towards that direction and there’d be some space that would be identified that we could utilize, but that hasn’t happened,” Saunders said, adding that the NCFA would participate in supporting such a venture.

In the meantime, the City of Nanaimo is providing the organization financial assistance in the form of a recently awarded $2,000 grant to for its fall juried art show later this year.

“This grant enables the NFCA to mount a high quality, professional, juried art show in downtown Nanaimo,” said NFCA president Bonnie Stebbings in an e-mail.

“The Nanaimo Fine Art show is the only art show north of Victoria that gives professional artists who live on Vancouver Island an opportunity to display their work.”

WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists spring show at the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery from Friday, April 13 to April 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Opening reception on Saturday, April 14 from 7 to 9 p.m.

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