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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Land and Sky - 2 Artist/2 Perspectives

    Location: Windsor, ON

    PAINTING WORKSHOP AT SHO ART STUDIOS APRIL 3rd 4th and 5th 2020..
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  • Confluent Dreams

    Location: North Battleford, SK

    An afternoon exhibition, cranky theatre and musical performance all taking place at..
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  • Love At First Sight

    Location: Regina, SK

    Love At First Sight / Regina Art Collective members: Dave Gedjos / DeLee Grant..
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  • In Other Words

    Location: Regina, SK

    In Other Words / Regina Art Collective members: Nikki Jacquin / Derek Olson / Mark..
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  • Alee & Ayla: Approaches to Portraiture

    Location: Regina, SK

    H.J. Linnen; Patron of the Regina Art Collective will be exhibiting works from his..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Black & White Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Black & White online art..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020 Venice | April 09 – May..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY 2020

    Location: London,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY – MIXING CULTURES ITSLIQUID International Art Exhibition THE..
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  • Call for Proposals: 2020 The WALL Artist

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Vancouver Heritage Foundation is now accepting proposals from independent artists and curators for..
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  • 10th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Appreciation of the Arts

    Location: London, ON

    Three day art and music event to recognize local artists in London, Ontario...
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  • Call to Artists - 2020 Sooke Fine Arts Show

    Location: Sooke, BC

    Artists are invited to submit work for consideration to the 2020 Sooke Fine..
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  • INK by Shawn Zheng

    Location: Saskatoon, SK

    Shu Cheng (Shawn) Zheng features his distinctive style of making marks in Chinese..
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  • North Shore Art Crawl

    Location: North Shore, BC

    The North Shore Art Crawl is a free community arts event March 7+8,..
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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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  • TRAVEL EXHIBITION

    Location: Toronto, ON

    John Mantha will be participating in a group show at Twist Gallery in..
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  • David Tycho: Urbania

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Guest artist David Tycho will exhibit 10 paintings from his latest series. This series..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

    Location: Brussels,

    ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) is back on October 15-18, 2020 for its 14th..
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  • Clarkson Society of Artists 2020 Show & Sale

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    The Clarkson Society of Artists invites you to attend their annual show &..
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  • Call for Artists: Urban Matrix

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    North Van Arts is inviting artists to take part in an upcoming group..
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  • 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art is now accepting entries for the 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Colors Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Colors online art competition. For this..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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  • Jane Selbie and Joseph Farrugia

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • “Grey” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline February 28, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Grey surrounds us, sometimes in surprising ways. In beach pebbles, a..
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  • on thin ice Polar Bear Art Exhibit

    Location: Toronto, ON

    On thin ice is a solo exhibit of polar bear portrait paintings by..
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  • Support the Worldwide Art Community | Participate in 6x6x2020

    Location: Rochester, ON

    Hello Artists in Canada, We want YOU to participate in 6x6x2020! Let your creative..
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  • Olivier Du Tre: New Works

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    January 7 to February 29, 2020 At HUB@302 302-1235 26 Ave SE, Calgary, AB..
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  • WAAH 124th Juried Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

    Location: Hamilton, ON

    Who:  The Women’s Art Association of Hamilton (WAAH) at the Art Gallery of..
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  • The Indian Contemporary Art Competition

    Location: New York, NY, ON

    The Indian Contemporary Art Competition (ICAC) aims to discover and promote talented artists..
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  • The Loft On King Street

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Loft On King Street is one of the most unique private event..
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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