Oak Bay News renews local artist showcase

Community artists group behind Bowker Brush Up, studio tours shows in Athlone Court

Oak Bay Community Artists Society’s Ilka Bauer hangs a new show at the Oak Bay News office in Athlone Court.

Imke Pearson is among the original studio tour artists.

She and her artist neighbour opened their Oak Bay doors in the mid-1980s, well before they were the trend. She would show her stained glass, he his painted furniture.

“People would line up because it was so unusual,” she said. “It was fun.”

The small event would foreshadow the future; Pearson was among the five original core members of the Oak Bay Community Artists Society that pushed for the first official studio tour in April 1999 that included nine studios.

“We only had one a year at that point,” Pearson said.

Now there are two a year organized by Recreation Oak Bay, showcasing scores of artists around the community.

In 2002, with the suggestion by Nicolas Tuelly, a former curator of the Greater Victoria Art Gallery, they achieved official status as the Oak Bay Community Artists Society.

“That got us going as a bigger art group and now it’s quite large,” Pearson said.

There are now 36 members, 12 with art gracing the walls of the Oak Bay News this summer. They also organize the original Bowker Creek Brush Up slated for Aug. 14 this year.

Pearson was an original organizer of that event as well.

“We laid the foundation. We persuaded artists, ‘Yes, you can paint while people watch you,’” she said.

Once the artist got started, nerves dissipated, she added. “The only fly in the ointment was we were not allowed to sell (our work).”

The success of that first Brush Up led to a second marking Oak Bay’s centennial year in 2006 when the artists were permitted to sell their creations.

In addition to the annual Bowker Creek event, studio tours, and the current Oak Bay News display, the society also displays artists’ works at Oak Bay municipal hall and Oak Bay High School.

OBCAS work is on display at the Oak Bay News, 207A-2187 Oak Bay Ave. (Athlone Court). Visit weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.