China has a view of the North Okanagan through local art

Artists Gary Whitley and Michael Jell among other B.C. artists showing their paintings at Pacific Rim Arts Exchange Show in Tianjin, China.

Visitors enter the 15

Some striking scenery of the North Okanagan has shown up at an international group art exhibition in China.

Cherryville’s Gary Whitley and Vernon’s Michael Jell are two of 12 B.C. Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) members who are currently showing their work in the Pacific Rim Arts Exchange Show in Tianjin, China.

“I have had my work shown in Canada and the U.S., and now it’s in China. It’s an opportunity to showcase my work internationally,” said Jell.

The artists’ work was purchased and then shipped over to China to be displayed in a 5,000-square metre ground floor hall in the city’s 15,000 square-metre Art and Technology Museum.

“The  show consisted of more than 100 paintings and was sold out before it opened,” said Mila Kostic, Vancouver Art Fair Director, who arranged the B.C. exchange.

The work sent to China was accompanied by a letter from B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

The show opened Sept. 20 and was attended by 300 invited guests, including numerous Chinese dignitaries, and will continue until the end of the year.

Included in the exhibition are nine of Whitley’s paintings, which show mostly local valley scenes including Duteau Creek, Echo Lake, McIntire Lake and the Monashee Mountains.

A professional artist for more than 35 years, Whitley is an associate member of the Oil Painters of America, an associate signature member of the FCA, and an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists.

Although his subject matter varies greatly, Whitley says he has a particular interest in painting florals and landscapes.

“For me, painting is an obsession,” he said. “Many of my landscapes are of the area, however, some are derived from long hours on horseback in remote high-elevation back country that few people have the opportunity to see.

“My wife and I spend considerable time riding in the summer, all over B.C. and Alberta. My florals are a result of the extensive flower garden she has created. I also paint subject matter that I simply find interesting.”

Having grown up in Southern Rhodesia (the Southern African nation now known as Zimbabwe), Jell’s interests in the outdoors have led him to paint ranch life as well as wildlife and landscapes since moving to Canada more than 35 years ago.

A longtime resident of Vernon, many of Jell’s paintings – done in oils and acrylics – depict Okanagan scenery.

“I sent a lot of paintings of scenes from around the country for selection and, funny enough, they picked all the ones from the North Okanagan,” said Jell, about his works that were selected for China. “I have six paintings in the show that feature scenes from  Kal Lake, Bolean Lake and elsewhere from this region.”

Jell has also donated artwork to numerous local  fundraisers and non-profits including the North Okanagan Community Life Society, O’Keefe Ranch, Allan Brooks Nature Centre, and Ducks Unlimited.

In 2012, the B.C. Wildlife Federation named  him the Artist of the Year for his painting of a great gray owl.

Whitley and Jell have also been a part of the Artists in the Garden show, which has been held annually the past five summers at Jell’s home garden in Vernon.


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