For the past two weeks the Bella Coola Valley Arts Council has had a show at the Valley Gallery featuring artists Marc Hedges, Ida Eriksen, and Ray McIlwain. The paintings being shown have for the most part not been shown previously in Bella Coola, and reflect each artist’s style and interest.
The most eye catching part of the show are undoubtedly four large portraits done by Marc Hedges when he was an art student over 20 years ago. Your eyes are repeatedly drawn to the features of these four. Marc was working with a group of mentally handicapped adults at the time, and these are some of the people he worked with, and knew well.
Marc attended art school in Manitoba and Victoria, and then spent two years a Banff school of fine arts, before getting his degree in education. He currently spends his time working for the CCTA and making pottery as well as doing some painting.
Ida Eriksen has been living in Bella Coola for the last several year since retiring as a graphic artist at UVIC. In truth she has long roots with this area having grown up in Namu. Ida also went to art school in Victoria, and in fact was there at the same time as Marc Hedges.
Since retiring Ida has decided to simply paint whatever she likes. She is extraordinarily prolific producing a room full of paintings many with a scenes of forest and woods. She likes to capture light passing through the trees and paths. They are happy paintings and reflect Ida’s cheerful disposition.
If you visit the gallery make sure to see the painting of the old car sitting down at the tide flats. She also does portraiture and figure painting though you will have to visit her gallery to see these.
Ray McIlwain has been a physician in Bella Coola for many years. Although he has no formal fine arts training, he has enjoyed painting since his retirement four years ago. He paints both scenery and figures, choosing subjects that have some interest for him.
He has several paintings of local scenes that many will recognize, such as M Gurr Lake, Kleena Kleene, and Clayton Creek estuary. He has also included in the show several portraits or figure paintings of family.
By the time this is published the show will be just about over. However, starting on June 19th there will be the Arts Council’s annual visual art show, which features many different artists in the valley each showing no more than three pieces, and highlighting their latest work.
The Valley Gallery located in front of SAMS is open Monday to Saturday from 10 to 4:30 over the summer.