Sunday, December 10, 2023
December 10, 2023

Archipelago artworks head south 


Salt Spring Arts is taking the final installment of Archipelago — Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea across the border into the United States this fall.  

Six Southern Gulf Islands artists will exhibit at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art (SJIMA) starting Sept. 22. The exhibition will be on display through Dec. 4 across all three galleries at the museum located in Friday Harbor, featuring eclectic works by Temoseng Chazz Elliott, Anna Gustafson, Jane Kidd, John Macdonald, Sam Montalbetti and Joanna Rogers.  

In April 2023, Salt Spring Arts’ annual Spring Art Show was part of the cross-border collaboration that included ArtSpring and the SJIMA in Friday Harbor. ArtSpring Gallery presented the works of six San Juan Islands artists, while Mahon Hall featured the works of six Southern Gulf Islands artists. A highlight of the spring exhibitions included attendance by artists from both sides of the border, a rich dialogue about their artworks and how they are impacted by life in the Salish Sea.  

For this final phase of the Archipelago collaboration, six Southern Gulf Islands artists will now journey down to San Juan Island where their art will be featured in the final exhibition.  

“I am very happy to be a part of this important cultural exchange,” said Pender Island textile artist Joanna Rogers. “I love the idea of art collapsing boundaries and forging connections, be they cultural, geographical, emotional or intellectual.”  

Initially, this event was set to feature only Southern Gulf Islands artists, but after travelling to Salt Spring and bearing witness to the two parallel exhibitions in conversation with one another, the San Juan Islands artists have decided to present a pop-up exhibition to coincide with the museum’s Southern Gulf Islands artists’ presentation.  

Exploring pieces created by artists who hail from different countries, yet within part of the same archipelago, is a special part of the experience. Inspired by how the coastal environment shapes artistic process, lifestyle, aesthetic and creative themes, the exhibitions showcase a wide range of responses to the Salish Sea.  

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Yael Wand, Salt Spring Arts’ executive director, noted, “Usually, our work at Salt Spring Arts is very much focused on our local community. In this case, this exchange with our American neighbours in the Salish Sea is an incredible opportunity to highlight the rich culture of visual arts in the Gulf Islands.”  

The pieces featured in the SJIMA exhibition range from traditional Coast Salish artwork to bold landscapes, with disciplines including photography, woodworking, fibre arts, painting and installation, all drawing inspiration from the same concept.  

The voice of Indigenous artist Temoseng Chazz Elliott will be present through his skilled carvings and sculptures. His works highlight Coast Salish design, handed down to Temoseng by his father and ancestors.  

“[This exhibition] means I’ll be going back to an ancestral home that’s important for me and my family, connecting to a place where my ancestors have lived and visited for thousands of years,” Temoseng said. 

Temoseng’s art features imagery that represents his W̱SÁNEĆ culture, history, legends and teachings, intrinsically rooted in the lands and waters of the Salish Sea.  

Local art professionals Richard Steel and Patrick McCallum curated the Southern Gulf Islands portion of Archipelago — Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea, selecting the diverse artists that represent the Canadian portion of the collaboration. Peter Lane, director of operations at SJIMA, determined the San Juan Islands-based artists. In total, the show amounted to 12 artists, six mediums, three exhibitions, two countries and one sea.  

Artist talks for Archipelago — Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea will take place at the SJIMA on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 10 a.m. San Juan Islands artists will also be featured in a pop-up exhibition at the San Juan County Fairgrounds from Sept. 22 to 25. 

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