Kirsten Brand brings the desert to Oak Bay this month based on first-hand touring alongside her husband.
For the past few years the James Bay couple travelled California, Nevada and Arizona, occasionally staying in B.C. exploringnorth of our Island oasis. Then there was the highway through southern Utah.
“The ‘wow’ highway. Around every curve we went ‘wow.’ I took so many pictures my shutter finger got a blister on it,” shesaid. That reference material translates to bright, intricate paintings hung on the Gage Gallery walls for her Desert Springshow.
While Brand says she was “born at Jubilee, trained as a nurse at Jubilee and worked at Jubilee,” her experiences away inspireher work, including the most recent. For nearly all that time, she was also an artist.
“My parents saved a painting I did when I was three and one from when I was six,” she said.
Banff School of Fine Arts, a dozen years after her parents saved that painting, followed by UVic and Victoria College of Art.Her exhibitions date as far back as 1980.
Both parents were musicians, so the artistic thread didn’t stray far. But more inspiring and visible in this showcase is hermother’s influence on the botanical bend of her work.
“I’ve always preferred to do landscapes and botanical stuff,” Brand said. “My mom collected and pressed plants and flowersand I still have much of her collection.”
Desert Spring is a representational showcase of the intricacies and beauty of new growth in the ecosystem often thought ofas barren. Having noted mining operations and intentionally drained lakes along their travels, she admits to a little activismin her work.
“My understanding of nature is as a harmony of energies that must all work together.”
Large national parks, such as Joshua Tree, offered much fodder.
“You would think a desert would be deserted but it’s absolutely not. It’s full of life,” she said. “There’s a feeling that we haveto smarten up … it’s been a providing planet but we need to look after it.”
They sold the RV because she needed to paint, Brand said. Now with all the painting done, and a show hung, “we’ve justbought another RV,” she says with a laugh. “We’ll do Canada instead.”
There’s plenty of desert that shoots straight north from the U.S. plus, she muses, there’s the Yukon.
Desert Spring runs March 14 to April 1 at the Gage Gallery Arts Collective, 2031 Oak Bay Ave. with an artist’s receptionMarch 19 from 1 to 4 p.m.