Local painter releases first book

Phyllis Serota reflects on influences, experiences

Painter Phyllis Serota

Painter Phyllis Serota

When the phone rang at Phyllis Serota’s home in Estevan Village last week, she wasn’t hoping to hear a reporter on the line.

“I thought this was the delivery person,” she said.

Serota was anxiously awaiting the arrival of stacks of copies of her first book, Painting My Life: A Memoir of Love, Art and Transformation.

“I’ve been painting for over 50 years. I think every artist, somewhere inside them, wants to have a permanent record of their work,” said Serota, who lived in James Bay for 24 years before moving to Oak Bay about 10 years ago.

“I’m not a professional writer, obviously, so it was a very daunting thing to take on. I’ve worked on it for over two years.”

In the book, she walks readers through her childhood in Chicago and the family memories that contributed to her character and her art career.

The book contains 104 colour images of her artwork.

“(In) many of them, two-thirds or more, I talk extensively about what was in my mind when I painted them and why I used particular colours and textures.”

The book launch happens tomorrow (Nov. 3) at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, where Serota has had three solo exhibitions in past decades.

“She is well respected as a professional,” said Mica Mash, art rentals and sales consultant at the gallery. “She’s also somebody who’s taken it all in her stride. She doesn’t have a huge ego. She remains unassuming and is always willing to share her knowledge. I think a book gives a whole lot more depth and perception to an artist.”

Serota wanted to share her experiences and relate them to her artwork for readers.

“I think those of us who live on the West Coast have generally come from somewhere else and lots of times we don’t know each other’s stories. I think these stories are very interesting.”

The book launch gets underway at 6:30 p.m. at the gallery, 1040 Moss St. Serota will also be signing copies of her book at Munro’s Books, 1108 Government St. on Saturday (Nov. 5) at 3 p.m.

The book is available in Victoria bookstores starting Friday.

ecardone@vicnews.com