Among Friends Gallery
While living on the Queen Charlotte Islands, from 1991 to 1997 I owned and operated a commercial art gallery which doubled as my working studio. It's name was Among Friends Studio & Gallery. When I relocated to the upper Sunshine Coast just south of Powell River I build my studio and kept the name Among Friends. The name of my studio & gallery came from the suggestion of my close friend Mike Dobson, an Ontario painter and printmaker. His rational was three fold, the gallery represented only my friends who were artists, the name reflected the fact I'm a Friend (Quaker) and lastly he views his art as his friends and helped me to see that point of view especially as the works are extentions of my friends. Over the years I've either traded or purchased my friends works. Recently I was feeling my web site was lacking some element, the representation of my friends work. I no longer run a commercial gallery selling my friends work but I do have web space to share my friends works with you, my visitor. Also some of my friends, artists and teachers who mentored me in my early years have passed away so this gallery is a tribute to those friends.
I hope you enjoy this gallery as much as I enjoy my friendship with these wonderful people and their art.
Mike and I go way back. We met when we were both curators of small public art galleries in Ontario in the mid '80's. The curator of the Belleville Public Library Art Gallery introduced us for posible exhibition exchanges. Funny that didn't happen except I did give Mike a show in the Algonquin Art Gallery (now called the Bancroft Art Gallery) when I saw his watercolours. It was at that point I found out he was a painter, not just a curator. We hit it off and have been friends ever since. We've gone on memorable painting trips together, he taking me to the Island of Orleans off Quebec City in the St Lawrence River and I took Mike to South Moresby in my zodiac on the Queen Charlottes.
4"x9.25" watercolour Northern Sunset, Webequie
4.25"x5.5" watercolour, Northern Lights over Winisk Lake
4"x9" watercolour, Orion Rising Over Sleeping Giant
Rob lives "near by" over on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo. I met Rob at the Originals Only Art Show in Comox 3 years ago. I couldn't get over how lively and exciting his paintings are. And that he paints them like a plaster fresco but with modern paints. We keep meaning to go painting on location together but our paths haven't crossed at an appropriate time to do so. And like so many other of my friendships, they started out by a mutual like for each others work and trading. I wish I was a rich artist so I could buy lots of Robs paintings. Rob's barbeque certainly has been very handy as it's become our exchange place for notes and paintings whenever I'm in Nanaimo and he isn't home.
8"x10" study of cabins
I first met Lionel at the Toronto Out Door Art Show on Nathan Phillips Square of the Toronto City Hall in 1982. Jennifer spelled me off from my display saying you have to go see this artists work. I followed her directions to Lionel's display and we've been friends ever since that first meeting. Lionel worked with me on the Convergence Project in 1984-5. We've hosted each others exhibitions in the galleries we were afiliated at the time. Lionel exhibited in my Among Friends Studio & Gallery in Queen Charlotte and while he was the curator of the Haileybury Public Art Gallery I had a solo show there. Lionel paints in watercolour, mixed media and woks with collage. He creates weavings from small wall hangings to huge wall coverings for public buildings. Lionel and I exchanged quite a few works so I'll only show one weaving and painting.
32"x36" tapestry, weaving and hooking
22"x30" mixed media
I met Marie in the '80's when she was the curator of the Prince George Art Gallery. She is a fine watercolour and acrylic painter. She moved to Wells, BC, just before Barkerville and turned the old St George Church into a wonderfull art gallery. Her gallery is open during the summer and she teaches and lives in one of the houses that was originally the manse.
Bert lives in Parry Sound Ontario in an old CPR rail building converted into living space, two studios and a gallery space called Loon Studios. He creates large oils in his studio, small watercolours (in comparison) for warming up and has worked in leaded stained glass. This watercolour was one of the paintings in the show he had in my gallery.
Lives on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Simon and I were cohorts in organizing a couple of local group exhibitions including Yakoon Lake Heart and Soul. Simon set up my first web site and showed me how to use PageMill so that I could maintain my site. This current site was built upon the original design. Simon paints, does lino blocks and makes found object sculptures.
6"x8" hand coloured lino block, The Islands off Vertical Point
11"x16" found object wall sculpture, wire, copper,wood and acrylic paint.
I met Peter on a painting trip to the Slocan Valley. Barbara Wilson invited me to her first paint out in the Slocan Valley. Peter was her on-location painting guide. It was a wounderful trip as that trip inspired me to start working on location in oils after painting on location previously for 15 years in watercolours. Plus I met so many great artists that Barbara knew I hadn't met before. Peter came to the coast for a visit as my guest artist at my studio site in the first annual Powell River Studio Tour in 2005 and this is a small painting he did before the tour. Peter is an excellant cook and makes coffee to die for.
12"x16" oil on board, painted on location, Coffee with Alfred
Peter has my painting painted same time and place, Coffee with Peter.
Friends who have passed away
Alexander (Alex) Millar, OCA, CGPW and Murray McCheyne Stewart
Alex was my painting instructor at art college and our friendship continued until his death. Alex hired me to work on a mural for the Boyd Conservation Field Centre near Klienburg, Ontario. This was my summer job and it helped pay for my last year of art college. Alex went on to approach the King City Library Art Gallery to give me my first solo exhibition in 1975. During art college he was often given test paints such as oil acrylics and let me try them from time to time. Just two weeks before Alex died I recieved a parcel in the mail from him full of oil acrylic paints. I had a strange feeling about recieving these paints as he thought highly of them. Alex took me on painting trips into Algonquin Park to his beloved Smoke Lake. The way he used to talk about the Park and Tom Thomson one would think Alex knew Tom personally.
Murray McCheyne Stewart was my wife's father best friend. They went to the same school Jennifer and I went, Northern Secondary School, in Toronto, Ontario. Having art and artists in Jennifers life was so ordinary as Murray and his family always visited back and forth with Jennifers parents that I eventually grew to feel Murry's family had always been part of my life. Murray often came to visit Jennifer and I after we were married and moved into our oneroom school house just outside Bancroft, Ontario. We'd go off painting together and I felt honoured that a selling established Ontario artist thought of me, a young fresh out of art college kid, as an equal.
Alex on left, Murray on right at our wedding (30 years ago!)
18"x24" oil, Molly's Island, Smoke Lake, Algonquin Park, Alex Millar,
18"x24" oil, March, Murray McCheyne Stewart
Murry Devlin 1924-2002
canvas inside shadow box frame 9.5" x 11.5"oil, untilttled
My favourite saying Murray used to say about Powell River whenever we visited over coffee in his home was a quaint comment about our home on the Sunshine Coast, "when you board the Queen of Burnaby in Little River you are actually getting on a time machine and travelling 50 years into the past as you cross the strait to Westview". It is not evident in this small oil but his later paintings before his death all reflected his wonderful sense of humor. I miss Murray's humor.
25"x30" oil, Blasted Rocks, HWY 500 West, Bancroft, Ontario
Oscar was so pleased that I liked this oil it is the only painting he gave to me while he was alive. I had to buy the others from him. What I didn't know at the time was he had made me his executor and in effect willed me all of his possesions. Now that was a job, though I felt like a Santa as I gave all but a very few of his works to Ontario public art galleries in communities Oscer was well know. It was Oscer who introduced me to watercolour painting on location in freezing weather. The next little watercolour is what inspired me to try what I've termed Frozen Watercolours.
10.5"x7.5" frozen watercolour, Lakeview, Ontario
I met Owen when he became my relative through marriage. Owen was a postal employee in Norfolk, England and he lived and had his studio in Acle, Norfolk. He painted the English landscape and embraced acrylics when they were first introduced. When he retired he turned to his painting full-time. He and his wife, Reta, came to Canada for our wedding and stayed over afterwards on holiday. I took him canoeing in a snow storm on Diamond Lake, near our school house cottage which was later to be our home. The experince of canoeing on a lake in a stow storm remained with him because every time we went to visit him in Acle he always mentined that paddle on Diamond Lake. He was a contemporary of Segal and I had the pleasure on my first visit to be taken out by Owen on the Broads in his beautiful wooden sail boat which he had purchased from Segal. He painted up until the end eventhough he had Parkinson's Disease.
9"x12" acrylic, Morning, Trent and Mersey Canel
Oscar Schlieger introduced me to Leonard by way of a letter of introduction. I was in my early twenties at the time and Leonard was very encouraging about my art after he requested and then looked at my slides. As Leonard lived in Mexico we kept in touch by exchanging Christmas cards. As with Oscar it with the return of Leonards card I learned of his passing. I inherited this collage of Leonard's from my mother-in-law. That's the only reason I'm extremely fortunate to have one of Leonards works.
16"x21.5" acrylic collage, Surf Fishers
As I was very keen on becoming an artist (big mistake) when I was a teenager I took evening life drawing classes at my highschool in the tower. My instructor was Don Fraser. After quite a few classes Don asked to see my paintings I did on my own (in my basement studio) so I took two in. He complimented my painting skill for not being trained yet. He particulary like how I used colour. It's comments like these that encouraged me to keep on the course of being a painter. Though now I've been through it all I certainly hope neither of my children want to be artists as it's a lonely life painting in a studio and a hard life chasing galleries to represent you and then hopefully to make sales. Being an artist may apear to be romatic but thats all it is, an illusion. Isn't that what art is?
This painting of Don's is not signed as it was a class demonstration which belonged to my step aunt. But even so as a painting demo Don's skill interpreting trees and snow is very evident.
Thank you for looking at these works. I hope you gained some pleasure and enjoyment from these old friends.
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