Gourds to grace Arts on the Avenue

Ladysmith's First Avenue to be turned into art gallery

Jessey LaFontaine is good with gourds.

The dynamic artists has been working with the hard-shell vegetables for years.

“It’s one of the very first canisters ever used all across the world,” LaFontaine said of the gourd.

LaFontaine tries to keep her gourds B.C. grown, heading to Kamloops once a year to stock up on her usual canvas.

“I work on some that are quite huge and those I get from California because they need a whole year in that hot season to get that big.”

LaFontaine has been in many different art shows, but this is her first time in Ladysmith’s Arts on the Avenue, happening Sunday, Aug. 28 along First Avenue.

“I just love Ladysmith,” said the self-taught, Nanaimo-based artist. “Someone told me about Arts on the Avenue and I thought I should try it.”

The process of gourd painting is not a fast one, as it take a year to grow and year to dry before LaFontaine applies her trade.

LaFontaine, who actually trained as a silversmith, uses leather paints on her work so the gourd’s pattern can still be seen.

“Then I do a lot of carving,” said LaFontaine, who also does a lot of inlay with precious stones, such as turquoise.

LaFontaine focuses a lot of her subject matter on the West Coast featuring a lot of whales, eagles and other B.C. treasures.