Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre exhibit opening: Artists pay tribute through creativity

The Revelstoke Visual Art Centre's newest exhibits include a tribute to the late Gwen Lips.

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Jacqueline Pendergast stands in front of one of the tapestries she created as part of Threadscapes. In the background, Greg Hoffart plays guitar during the exhibit opening on Thursday, Sept. 26. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

The Revelstoke Visual Art Centre’s latest exhibits are a feast for the eyes, multiple artistic mediums imploring you to take a closer look. Jacqueline Pendergast’s Threadscapes, on display in the main gallery, evokes a medieval theme, although their framing calls to a more modern approach. Weng Slip, a tribute to Gwen Lips, occupies the remainder of the gallery, with vibrant and unique pieces contributed by nine Revelstoke artists.

The nine Revelstoke artists who contributed work to Weng Slip spent seven days immersed in creativity, communing together in friendship and celebration of Lips, who passed away from cancer in 2017 at the age of 41.

Born in Hemstede, in the Netherlands, Lips could often be blunt, but also had a unique sense of humour. Owner of Castle Joe Books, Lips had a portrait of herself titled The Many Moods of Gwen, which she displayed on a wall in the store. Some of Lips’ own works are also on display, mixed in with the work of her fellow artists. The exhibit includes works by Nicola McGarry, Janet Pearson, Kelly ‘Tilly’ Perry, Cherie Van Overbeke, Estee Sylvester, Sue Davies, Zuzana Riha, Valerie Speer and Tina Lindegaard. The exhibit also showcases works by Andrew Stacey, Daniel Anhorn, Jeff Wilson, Maria Giere and Nicola McGarry.

People spent time contemplating pieces inspired by the late Gwen Lips, including these Dr. Suess inspired paintings. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Alongside the art, many contributing artists included stories about their connection to Lips.

“To me, Gwen’s life seemed full and wonderful, but my friendship with her was interrupted by her early passing,”Davies wrote underneath a piece titled Interrupted.

“Gwen was strong and had this same effect on family, friends and fellow artists … broad was her impact, which is blooming even now,” Speer wrote under her piece, Dandelion.

“I did not know you well, we only met a few times however, for this piece I used a few of your creations which allowed me to connect as I looked at the finished piece …,” Perry wrote under her piece “I Did Not Know You Well.”

Works inspired by Gwen Lips. Included in the centre is The Many Moods of Gwen, a piece Lips displayed at Castle Joe Books. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer

I, myself, didn’t know Lips on a personal level, but as an avid reader I spent a fair amount of time leisurely examining the bookshelves at Castle Joe Books. On one particular afternoon I was making my way through the many titles, chatting with Lips as her Bridget, her eldest daughter who was an infant at the time, slept soundly in a bassinet placed in the middle of the room. Suddenly Lips asked if I wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on Bridget so she could sneak outside for a few minutes. I wasn’t a mother at the time, so I didn’t quite understand the solace that comes from being able to spend a few precious minutes alone, away from your child without worry. Seeing the art, inspired by Lips, reminded me of how one individual can provide inspiration, even without really knowing them.

Threadscapes explores Canadian, English landscapes

At first glance, Jacqueline Pendergast’s textile pieces appear as modern art pieces, mimicking acrylic paintings, or even photography reproduced on canvass. A closer inspection reveals the cotton fabric and stitching — something Pendergast does entirely on a run of the mill sewing machine using straight and zig-zag stitches. She’s even included her sewing machine as part of the exhibit.

Pendergast describes her works as inspired by medieval tapestries, but with a modern spin. Each piece is stretched over canvass and framed like a traditional picture, but she’s forgone the glass covering, instead inviting viewers to see the depth created from the stitching. Creating the pieces for Threadscapes took Pendergast an entire year, beginning with the image of a castle. She worked on a balance between local and Canadian landscapes, along with the English countryside she holds dear.

“The images I chose reflect places that mean something,” said Pendergast.

Weng Slip and Threadscapes are on display at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre until October 25. The gallery is located at 320 Wilson Street.