With mixed emotions, Marion Evamy and Bobb Hamilton open their retrospective exhibit today at their Red Gallery.
The latest exhibit will also be the last at the Oak Bay Avenue gallery, as the two prepare to close their “bricks and mortar” space.
The me! myself and eye exhibit shows from June 1 to 15, after which the couple will enjoy a well-earned sabbatical, time to travel, and spend more time with family and friends.
While no longer a colourful addition to the Avenue, the move doesn’t mean the end of Red, they emphasize. Don’t be surprised to hear about some special events, or even a “pop up” show or two in the future, Marion says, noting that Red Gallery will remain “online” and by appointment at her nearby home studio.
“That’s where it all started, through the Oak Bay Studio Tour. We had 300 people through over the weekend,” Marion recalls.
“It’s bittersweet for us – we have loved what we have done here.”
Coming to the gallery from real estate careers in Calgary, the Oak Bay setting has been among the highlights for Marion, who lived here previously while a student at the University of Victoria.
“When you become part of a little village like this, everybody kind of knows you and people always stop by… It’s visits like that we’re really going to miss.”
Those connections reflect the kind of gallery the Evamys wanted to have from the start, taking a fun, inviting approach that was above all accessible and welcoming.
“So often its people coming in for their ‘happy’ fix, their colour fix. The work is happy and colourful, which you don’t necessarily see in art galleries all the time,” Marion says, crediting Bobb’s chatty, personable personality as well for the gallery’s success.
The community connections they forged were evident when Red made the move up the Avenue and into the larger space several years ago. Come moving day, people just showed up to help.
“The connections have been so amazing,” Marion says.
For now, the me! myself and eye retrospective features a beautiful array of “more than 40 paintings from private collections, commissions never before seen in the gallery, a couple of award-winning works and a handful of brand new creations thrown in for good measure,” Marion says.
The exhibit includes some early drawings, reflecting Marion’s long-term interest in portraying the human figure, “beginning with pencil and then incorporating humour into body language.”
“I think it’s very fitting that Marion chose the last two weeks of our opening to be her retrospective because I think every artist wants the chance to show people their journey,” Bobb says.
Works include the five styles Marion uses to convey her creative interests in a variety of subjects. The “Klimt style” – using liquid acrylic paints and rubbing alcohol – is so-called because many have said it reminds them of the work of Gustav Klimt. The “muses” are large-scale human heads and faces, while “quirky folks” are humour-infused characters full of fun and colour, and “colour blocks use broad bands and areas of colour to create more graphic imagery. Lastly, the “play and freestyle abstract” approach is fun and intuitive – anything goes.
While each style shares Marion’s passion for colour, viewers “are quite amazed they’re all one artist,” she says.
“I love to play, I love to experiment. A lot of times it works out, sometimes it doesn’t,” she says. “When you take chances, interesting things can happen.”
All are welcome to the opening tonight (Wednesday, June 1) from 6 to 8 p.m., including refreshments and “plenty of joy and colour.”
Continuing the gallery’s commitment to its local community, June 8 to 15 also brings a silent, sealed bid auction for the gallery’s furnishings, including the famous patchwork sofa. Images of the furniture and goods available for auction will be posted on Red’s website and Facebook page June 7, and on June 17 the Evamys will announce the successful bidders. All proceeds will be donated to the United Way of Greater Victoria.
In thanking the community for its support over the years, Bobb highlights the Oak Bay gallery’s connections.
In addition to the day-to-day support for the gallery, its artists, its special events and fundraisers, Bobb also credits their landlords and property management company, the Pollen family and Devon Properties, respectively, “all with strong Oak Bay roots.”
Both “have been instrumental in making our leasing both at the beginning and the end a real treat,” Bobb says.
Those connections continue even as the space itself transitions. Oak Bay realtor Scott Piercy brings Engel and Volkers to the space, opening July 1. “A fitting close to our gallery chapter is the fact that Engel and Volkers have commissioned Marion to paint their company logo on a canvas for them to hang in their new office space. It will be the last piece she has started on in the existing gallery space,” Bobb says.
Response to the gallery’s impending closure came quickly, with a flood of emails and messages, Bobb says.
“We’ve had some good cries over this whole thing.”