Bi Yuan Cheng: True to the heart

Bi Yuan Cheng is a seeker of the truth. Not truth in facts, but in feeling; not in evidence, but in experience. His pursuit as an artist is to convey the world as he sees it and share its impact with the viewer, to impart the sense of wonder it brings to him. “I always think if you do art, it has to come from your heart, from your inside world. That makes it really true,” he says.

He was an artist from day one. Born in 1957 in Jinan, China, as a boy of six, Bi could often be found sitting at the side of the road with pencil and paper, sketching the passing cars or bicycles. “It just came naturally,” he says.

His interest and aptitude did not go unnoticed by his mother, a homemaker, or his father, an architect. Read more

Floral painting, Where the Light Takes You II by Kimberly Kiel at The Avenue Gallery, a contemporary fine art gallery in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Robert Amos: The Vision of The Avenue Gallery

For 15 years, The Avenue Gallery has been in the midst of Oak Bay Village, attracting passersby with striking art works by Blu Smith and Ron Parker in its show window. This week, I dropped by for a visit with owner Heather Wheeler to talk about the past, present and future of one of Victoria’s premier galleries.

Wheeler told me she grew up in a household where her mother was very creative, but Wheeler approached the world with a head for business. Beginning in the 1980s, she worked for Peter Dorazio, an entrepreneur who dominated the tourist shops on lower Government Street.

At first, she was retail manager for his art shops: the Art Bank, Art Underground and the Customs House Gallery. Read more

Listening to the Wood: Bruce Edmundson’s Burl-to-Sculpture Transformations

Bruce Edmundson’s elegant wood sculptures begin as bumps on a log, aka burls, so when he learns I’ve got a felled, super bumpy big leaf maple tree at my place, he’s happy to take a look.

He’s brought along his friend Kent Mjolness, and they eagerly circle the massive, hollow trunk sections. There are plenty of visible burls, which are actually rounded growths formed when a tree is under stress from an injury, virus or fungus. I tell them I considered turning the maple into firewood. I detect some shudders.

Burl wood has unusual texture, colour and figure (or appearance). Birdseye, resembling tiny swirling bird’s eyes distributed through the grain, is a much prized figure of wood. Read more

An Interview with Valérie Butters

What is your first memory creating art?

I am an only child of parents who moved around a lot because my dad was a fighter pilot.   I can’t say my first memory because art is just something I did, like riding a bike.   But I do remember maybe drawing and painting more than riding a bike.  I do remember drawing a lot of airplanes.  They were such a big part of my life.   My dad flew in a time when rules were more relaxed and Canadian military aviation was at its prime during the Cold War.  I remember him flying over our house so low the entire neighbourhood would shake, just to wake my mom and I up.

I drew airplanes like Basquiat drew faces. Read more

An Interview with Steven Stairs

Inspiring thoughts from a recent interview with sculptor Steven Stairs…

What is your first memory of creating art?

I think of myself more as a Maker, as opposed to an artist. I’ve been making things as long as I can remember. First it was leatherwork that I sold at the Farmers Market, furniture making soon followed in my early teens. Then there was sketching and watercolour painting.

Do you have a precise vision for each sculpture before you begin?

I work from sketches and or clay models so yes, I have a pretty good idea right from the start. Still, the process is fluid, things change along the way, there is endless fine tuning…

Is each form carved from one piece of wood? Read more