Prominent Oak Bay artist Patricia Martin Bates on stage, a step higher than the audience where members of council usually sit, perched in an armed chair among artwork, flowers and a handful of books, as the mayor lifted one foot on the step, for one moment it looked like a proposal.
Oak Bay arts laureate Barb Adams actually did the pinning after Mayor Nils Jensen presented Martin Bates with the inaugural Oak Bay Acorn Arts Award. The recognition was created to recognize contribution by individual, group, business or institution that makes a significant contribution to art in the community.
“The Acorn Arts Award is something really worthwhile and we’re honoured to be able to present this to Pat,” Adams said.
An audience serenade was among the highlights as Robert Amos, fellow Oak Bay artist and member of the Public Art Committee, addressed the honouree.
“When Pat and I get together there’s always a song in our hearts and the song that comes to my mind right away goes ‘Fairy tales can come true, it could happen to you …” he said, launching into a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s Young at Heart, and the audience quickly followed suit.
Martin Bates, a longtime Oak Bay resident and famed artist, earned the Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture award for her lengthy and active active career in the arts and community service.
A member of Zonta and the University Women’s Club, she is the founder of Victoria Visual Arts Legacy Society.
A native of New Brunswick, Bates (affectionately called PMB by peers) studied art there at Mt. Allison University and later at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. In the 1960s her association with Canadian Art Magazine, alongside editor and mentor Alan Jarvis and the National Gallery of Canada connected her with outstanding artists globally.
Her innovative print-making techniques, involving deep embossing and piercing of the paper, brought her many honours, including the gold medal at the International Biennale of Prints in Fredrikstad, Norway in 1985. In places as far afield as Ljubljana, Yugoslavia, Rajastan, India and Kyoto, Japan, she is known as “Lady Print.”
“Shakespeare said ‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin, and that’s what we are here in Oak Bay. We are kin,” Martin Bates said during the ceremony.
She reminisced of the lively arts scene of Oak Bay in the 1960s, highlighting famed names such as the late poet Mike Doyle and late sculptor Bob de Castro in particular.
She recalled, seeing him … “sitting in the corner of Ivy’s book store reading many books, but never buying any,” adding with a laugh, “I can say the same for me.”
“Now we fast-forward to today and now, because look what’s happening here, what’s happening now. Victoria is fine, but Oak Bay is still at the forefront of the arts scene,” she said, to applause, that later turned to standing ovation.
“Yes the four winds of Oak Bay, the four winds of change are ahead of us and with us now and the magic acorns, the noble oaks and I are,” she says, shifting into song, “saying with a sigh, that we thank you.”