Anyone who sauntered into the SAGA (Salmon Arm Art Gallery) recently would have seen the ice crackling on the surface of Shuswap Lake.
Part of the North Okanagan chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists’ group exhibition, with the theme Looking In Looking Out, Lavington artist Barry Rafuse’s giant mixed media painting, Fractured Ice, captured many onlookers’ attention, including that of gallery owners Maria and Kalman Molnar.
The Molnars, who own Gallery Odin atop Silver Star Mountain, have featured Rafuse’s work many times before, but this week, they are opening a solo exhibition dedicated to the artist. And Fractured Ice will be just one of Rafuse’s large abstracts that will be featured.
“I felt privileged to be one of the original artists when Kal and Maria Molnar first established Gallery Odin,” said Rafuse. “I still feel that way. They exhibit a beautiful selection of original art in a stunning home atop Silver Star mountain.”
Rafuse, who worked for the B.C. Corrections Branch in Prince George before retiring to the Okanagan in 1999, has been painting in his bold, loose style for more than 20 years, but it has been more recently that he has experimented more with abstraction.
His work has been exhibited throughout the Okanagan and beyond, and is owned in many private collections. One of his larger canvases now rests inside the Vernon Performing Arts Centre’s lobby.
“Over the years, I have gone from painting traditional landscapes, seascapes and florals to bold abstracts. It has been an expressional journey,” said Rafuse. “Now, I find satisfaction and never ending challenge through abstraction – not an easy task. I strive to paint something different; something which is colourful, bold and thought provoking.”
For his exhibition at Odin, Rafuse has been busy preparing new abstract pieces.
“I have been using large canvases and working with some new colours, which I believe will make for a dramatic show,” he said.
Also opening is an exhibition by another Odin regular, Westside artist Jerry Markham.
A representational landscape artist, who works primarily in oils, Markham most recently showed his Chickens for A Cause, a series of avian-influenced paintings to help local poultry farmers with their fight to allow area-raised chickens to be slaughtered and sold locally.
Markham has aimed his brush on another part of the world more recently.
He and his wife, Leah, a website designer, recently had the opportunity to travel to Tuscany, Italy to teach a painting workshop, which they will be doing again in 2014.
“Painting in Tuscany was an interesting experience that we very much enjoyed,” said Markham. “Everything has a beautiful, warm orange light cast upon it, especially in the evenings, which was a challenge to capture.”
Markham, who has been painting for approximately 10 years now, says he will show work from his Tuscany trip as well as a few studio pieces from Italy, the Rocky Mountains, and Western Canada in the Odin exhibition.
Also on view will be a series of three figurative works by Lake Country artist Brenda Maunders as well as selected works by other Odin artists.
Gallery Odin’s winter exhibition opens with two receptions this week, Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. The gallery, located at 215 Odin Rd. on the Knoll at Silver Star, remains opens through the winter season, Wednesdays and Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. or by appointment. Call 250-503-0822 for more information.