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  • HUB @ 302

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists invites all juried members, associate and non-members to..
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  • Open Call for 2020 exhibitions

    Location: Vernon, BC

    We are an artist run gallery seeking submissions from emerging artists for our..
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  • Beacon Original Art Fall Show & Sale

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Saturday October 19, 2019 from 10am - 4pm. Featuring more than 30 artists..
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  • Open Call:

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    The Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) is having an open exhibition for members..
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  • Open Call: All 10

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Calling all Canadian Artists! This is an open submission call for a lightly..
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  • Earth

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists invites all Juried, Life, Student, Associate Members and..
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  • Reza Rezaï / Mehmoon

    Location: Calgary, AB

    TRUCK Contemporary Art is pleased to present Mehmoon by Reza Rezaï. Through the..
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  • Outside, In

    Location: Lethbridge, AB

    Opening reception September 28th 7-9pm for the Allied Art Council's Gallery Stroll! OUTSIDE,..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2019 Fall Online International Exhibition

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • “Motion” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline October 31, 2019

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Moving or being moved. Shifting, stirring, changing places. The rise and..
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  • Beaver Sheppard: Solo Exhibition

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Archive Contemporary presents a comprehensive solo exhibition of Beaver Sheppard’s artistic canon, for..
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  • ANCESTRAL MINDSCAPES

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Ancestral Mindscapes is an autobiographical collaboration using video, sound and photography to explore..
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  • Clay Tile Workshop

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Participants will be working with clay to hand-build tiles using a variety of..
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  • Edible and Medicinal Gardening Lecture

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Ukrainian settlers brought with them a wide range of traditional knowledge and practices,..
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  • Acrylic Painting for Beginners

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Do you want to create a bright & beautiful acrylic landscape in one..
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  • Willow Heart Weaving Workshop

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Willow Heart Weaving Workshop In this workshop, participants will learn how to trim and..
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  • New Craft Coalition: Call to Artists

    Location: Calgary, AB

    New Craft Coalition, invites applications from all mid-career and professional artists to be..
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  • Invisible by PAINTER8

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Please join us at PAINTER8, and other Edmonton art lovers alike, for the..
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  • 19th Annual Stouffville Studio Tour

    Location: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

    The 19th Annual Stouffville Studio Tour is an event you don’t want to..
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  • Wheat Centrepiece Workshop

    Location: Edmonton, AB

    Join this class to learn how to make a didukh-style centrepiece that can..
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  • Radio Silence

    Location: Quebec city, QC

    Québec, August 19, 2019 – Folie/Culture invites all those who express themselves through..
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  • LOOK AGAIN!

    Location: Saskatoon, SK

    LOOK AGAIN! PAINTINGS BY KATHLEEN SLAVIN AND GAIL PRPICK AT UNIVERSITY..
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  • Watercolour Workshop with Frank Townsley

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Sunday 22nd September 10.00 AM - 5.00 PM ..
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  • Figureworks 2019

    Location: Ottawa, ON

    Figureworks 2019 Call for Artists The call for submissions to the 10th annual juried..
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  • Quasi-Nature

    Location: Montreal, QC

    Archive Contemporary Art Gallery is pleased to present Quasi-Nature, a group exhibition curated..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2019 Fall Online International Exhibition

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Unsettling Nature

    Location: Toronto, ON

    An Exhibition at: The Garage Gallery Benmiller with Artists Jill Price, Leslie Putnam, Morag Webster..
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  • Through the Eyes of a Child

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    Artists Statement: Ed Flanagan My wife had a career as an elementary school..
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  • Exposition solo Lac-Mégantic

    Location: Lac-Mégantic, QC

    L'eau, une mine d'Art du 8 juillet au 8 septembre 2019..
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  • Sustainable Fashion Designer Looking for Studio Space in Mississauga

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    Hi, I'm Amanda, I am an emerging fashion designer starting my business designing..
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  • 32 Points- 32 Voices: A Compass of Peace

    Location: Toronto, ON

    32 Points - 32 Voices: A Compass of Peace International Exhibition September 6-27, 2019 Cedar Ridge..
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Jessie Homer French: New Paintings at Winchester Galleries

By Robert Amos August 5, 2004

} Jessie Homer French: New Paintings at Winchester Galleries By Robert Amos 2260 Oak Bay Avenue, 595-2777, until July 31 www.winchestergalleriesltd.com Let’s start with a picture called Country Road, which shows a wayside cross. Not an antique cross outside a quaint Britanny village, but one of those humble ones which now dot our highways. Jessie Homer French painted this, with a straightforwardness that we associate with folk art. There’s no irony in her presentation of a subject drenched in emotional resonance. Country Road, oil on canvas by Jessie Homer French Above the cross, black leafless branches reach up from silhouetted trees - are these the fingers of death? This memorial cross, and the mementoes gathered at its base, speak of the continuation of life. French’s picture is simple on the surface, while our strongest experiences flow beneath it in a powerful undercurrent. The paintings of Jessie Homer French avoid easy resolution. Born in New York in 1940, French came as an adult to Los Angeles. There she raised a family and then retired with her husband to Victoria eight years ago. According to her, these eight have been the happiest years of her life. I’ve puzzled over her art ever since she arrived here, and have tried to understand why it fascinates me. Her paintings of fire, of fish farms, of motels and dog shows - what do they mean? French and I spent two hours talking this over in her waterfront studio recently, and I’ll share what I have learned. The current exhibit of new work features three commanding views of Gonzales Bay after sunset, oil paintings almost two metres across. “I don’t mind doing landscapes,” French told me, “as long as there’s something interesting with the light.” But, clearly, these landscapes are for people who don’t feel comfortable with what she calls “the scarier stuff”. Scary? Consider The Ghost of the Victoria Golf Links, a spectral woman who appears from the darkness against a blue sky. Or Air Light, in which a zeppelin floats at twilight over darkened houses. Or In Frozen Ground, a split level view of graves beneath the earth, and a wolf grieving above. Where is this imagery coming from? French told me she was an only child and enjoyed long spells of aloneness at her parent’s country house in upstate New York. With her dad working in the city and her mother fading away from tuberculosis and depression, the little girl was “totally free - all alone in the forest.” Adept at avoiding school, she mostly taught herself. “What do you need but wilderness and books?” she muses. French recalled a vital moment at age 3 or 4 when she discovered fishing. “I caught my first fish - in my hands, in a brook. Then I did the whole thing,” she went on, “with bent pin and a pole. I remember the exact moment, in Rice’s General Store, when I saw the sign - Eagle Claw Hooks. It was just at my eye level. That was it. I was hooked.” She has always been a “catch and release” fisherman - “no killing,” as she says. Following her passion, she has cast flies into just about every worthwhile river in the west. In the current show, her portrait of famous Cowichan River fishing guide Joe Saysell accompanies two large diagrammatic views of our local pisciculture. These, like her Fly Casting Pool painting, defy perspective. “I don’t have enough art school,” French explained. Her efforts at education were interrupted, and anyway perspective doesn’t come easy to her. Astutely, she noted that it may be “unnecessary and distracting.” She just gets on with painting out her ideas in a deliberate manner. Her style seems adequate to any challenge. A friend invited her to visit the bell tower at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. One of the resulting paintings was created in three sections. Below, the ringers toil. A long centre section is given over to the ropes. Above, the bells swing in the belfry. When I ventured that this was an odd compositional format, the artist reminded me that “above and below” is often a part of her pictures: fishing scenes with fish below the waterline, and graveyard scenes with people in coffins below the earth. French herself seems a buoyant and positive person, but she described to me dark moments of her teen years, “sitting on the train tracks on a trestle, reading Shakespeare’s sonnets and thinking of myself as Anna Karenina.” Since then, shadows have passed across her life. The death of French’s firstborn at six years of age created memories that will never be erased, even in light of her close relationships with the three children who came after. Motel Parking Lot by Moonlight, Indian Caves by a River: Jessie Homer French’s paintings are imbued with an elegiac tenderness, a warm human concern which transmutes sadness into affirmation. She can paint the sunset’s glow with an aching wistfulness. In wordless witness she has depicted the cooling towers of a nuclear cooling tower, as seen from the I-5 in Washington state. And, just as the incipient tragedy begins to loom, the imagery is leavened with levity. How else can you explain her painting of an outdoor dog show in the rain - the gay madness of wolfhounds in dog coats, their owners under umbrellas? There is a beautiful balance of contradictions built into these oils. They are well-made but home-made; straightforward though enigmatic; aware of life’s swift passage yet full of affection for every mysterious moment. There is more here than meets the eye. ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com