July 1 will not only be Canada Day in Chemainus, it will also be opening day for Rainforest Arts, a new gallery located at 9781 Willow Street, in the same building as the Coastal Community Credit Union.
And, in keeping with the Canada Day theme, images from Canada’s National Shoe Set, an evocative collection of sculptures formed by plasticized and painted footwear representative of Canada’s provinces and territories, will be the featured work opening day.
Commissioned for Expo 86, Canada’s National Shoe Set features 13 ‘shoe sculptures,’ one for each province plus a national shoe set.
The sculptures themselves won’t be on display – they’re in the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec – but visitors to the gallery will be able to get a sense of the works from a set of post cards that will be on display and available for purchase. One hundred percent of the funds raised will go toward the gallery.
For Durrand the shoe set became a metaphor for Canada, the nation.
“Shoes in general are ageless, they’re not going to change too much,” Durrand said of the exhibit. “For me I imagined walking across the country and changing my shoes as I walked, and because I lived on the west coast I imagined going west to east.”
The shoes, even without the images painted on them, are evocative of every province in Canada. Fishermen’s boots from Newfoundland; cork boots from B.C.; Mountie Boots from Saskatchewan… all the shoes – and flippers, and skates, and snow shoes – represent their regions.
“The whole show has a lot of humour in it and appeals to all ages,” Durrand said.
Three decades later, the exhibit’s meaning is in some ways more intense. Newfoundland’s fisherman’s boots, for example, feature a cod painting on them – that was done before the collapse of the cod stocks in Canada’s eastern most province, which occurred in 1992.
It’s been an epic undertaking by a determined group of Island arts lovers, getting Rainforest Art’s gallery opened in time for the summer season.
Operating under the CVCAS umbrella of the Rainforest Arts summer hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and Sundays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The gallery will feature all kinds of works by a varied group of member-artists. Said Rainforest Arts committee manager Peggy Grigor, “Rainforest Arts will feature everything from art cards to jewelry, pottery, woodworking, fabric art, sculptures, paintings and more. There’s something for everyone in a wide variety of price points.”
The gallery is just a start as far as the CVCAS is concerned. Their ultimate goal, according to a June 17 release, is an arts center in Chemainus. “That dream includes having a 75 seat auditorium suitable for year round musical and theatrical performances, and would include an art gallery and travelling art exhibition space,” says the release.
Volunteer run, the gallery is open to “all artists on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.” Artists must be members of the CVCAS, and work on exhibit in the gallery “undergoes a jurying process.” To become a Rainforest artist, you begin by filling out a sign up form on the gallery web site.
“Since we are a non profit society, Rainforest Arts relies solely on the generous support of volunteers,” states the gallery’s web site. Anyone wanting to get involved can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-246-4861.