Artist Sonja Billard with her Painting “Coffee People Wading in Line” for the next show at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery

Artist Sonja Billard with her Painting “Coffee People Wading in Line” for the next show at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery

Ladysmith art show explores the art of the bizarre

The Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery's July show, How Bizarre?!, runs July 6-28.

Art lovers are invited to immerse themselves in all that’s weird and wonderful at the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery’s new show, How Bizarre?!, which opens Saturday, July 6 at 7 p.m. and runs through July 28.

In preparation for the show, artists were invited to create pieces that are a little strange or unusual. Those pieces are set to be delivered to the gallery on July 2 and 3, but until they arrive, nobody knows exactly what they’ll look like. The only guarantee is that they’ll be a bit odd.

“I think it’s a nod to the crazy, wild and woolly,” said Ladysmith and District Arts Council president Kathy Holmes. “We try to give artists a theme to take them out of their box. Maybe they’re always a landscape painter — we want them to paint something crazy or wild or put a dinosaur in their landscape.”

Artist Paul Fudge will be at the gallery July 6 to present a talk for the show opening, though the theme of his talk, like the show, is a bit of a mystery.

“It could be something totally different from How Bizarre?! It could be a method of painting, and that’s part of the surprise,” said Holmes. “It’s usually personal about themselves because that’s what we want to know. As human beings, we’re curious, aren’t we? And we like to know about people.”

The idea of using themes to challenge artists in their work is one the gallery regularly employs, and Holmes said it benefits those creating the art and those enjoying it.

“If we keep pushing an artist they just get better and better,” she said.

How Bizarre?! is a free show that’s open to everyone. Holmes said people are encouraged to stop in and enjoy what the Ladysmith art community has to offer. She added that the gallery is now receiving submissions from artists who live in other communities who have heard about the vibrant local art scene.

“I love it. I think it’s exciting. Sometimes I actually get tears in my eyes. I’ll come in here in the morning or late at night when nobody’s around and I’ll just go and look at every piece and I’m amazed. And I’m so proud of our artists and I’m so proud of our Town that lets us do this,” said Holmes. “I think it’s just fabulous that we are gifted with this space in this little town.”

The Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery has a busy year ahead. In addition to a number of shows, Arts on the Avenue takes place Aug. 25, and in October, the gallery is hosting a juried fine art multimedia exhibition.

“People should come. We’re not a stuffy place. It’s open to the public, and we mean everybody,” said Holmes.