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Grey Day Blues

Last year one of my favourite road trips occurred on a wet, typically grey west coast winter day when it was suggested we see the neon light show at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was a wonderful reprieve from the doldrums brought on by a lack of sunlight . It worked in the past so on this decidedly grey day, the third in a row I might add, we decided to try and lift our moods by heading out on a gallery tour.

Our first stop was in Qualicum Beach at the Old School House Gallery. This is one of those great stories where the community comes together to save an important part of their history. Built in 1914 the old school house officially re-opened in 1988 to become an integral part of Qualicum Beach’s social and cultural life. In addition to some very nice artwork you can take art classes, attend concerts or any number of events. It’s best to check the special events calendar.

Off we went to our second stop at the Barton & Leier Gallery in downtown Nanaimo.  If these surroundings don’t lift your spirits you may be in trouble. Nixie Barton and Grant Leier have an interesting perspective on life that is clearly evident by their use of the brightest of colours and tongue in cheek humour. Not only do they have interesting artwork but an eclectic gift shop that’s sure to please.

Feeling a bit hungry we walked a couple of storefronts away and ordered appetizers at the Modern Café.  Crab cakes, coconut shrimp and green salads were exactly what were needed before heading south to the Chemainus Theatre Gallery.

Known primarily for its professional theatre, this grand building also houses an art gallery and gift shop representing some 100 artisans. The art is exquisite, the display is lacking. It may be that I arrived on an off day but the gallery seamed sterile somehow, the light just not right but truth be known it may be my cataracts.  My sense of a good time at the Chemainus Theatre would include the matinee performance of a play and a meal at the ‘Playhouse Buffet’ inspired by the theme of the show. 

After nodding to the statue in front of the theatre entrance we left for Cowichan Bay along Hwy 1. Our destination was Arthur Vickers’ Gallery hoping that he was in residence as we would then have an opportunity to hear the stories that influenced his art. Sadly the gallery was closed, locked solid to interlopers the likes of us.

The result of my road trip was to elevate my sun deficient body, pulling me from the mundane into the bright light of possibility. Inspired by what I had just seen, I worked on a watercolour until it descended as usual into an overworked muddy thing, but there for a moment...

  1. Start: Old School House Arts Centre
    An artistic focal point
  2. Barton & Leier Gallery
    A unique, colorful, fun gallery in Nanaimo
  3. Chemainus Theatre Gallery Giftshop
    The Gallery gift shop showcases a group of B.C. artists that present a diverse collection of works.
  4. End: Arthur Vickers' Gallery
    Meet Arthur and hear the stories that inspired each of his artworks on display.