Those who knew Mae Roberts know that she loved the colours, textures and vibrancy of the Okanagan landscape.
The celebrated Vernon artist died this past December, but her paintings, which traversed different mediums, subjects and styles, live on with her friends and family, and now with the public.
This week, local commercial gallery, Nadine’s Fine Art and Frames, is opening a posthumous exhibition and sale of Roberts’ life work.
“She was a long-time contributor to my gallery for more than 10 years,” said gallery owner Nadine Wilson, who after receiving the blessing of Roberts’ husband Ed, worked with fellow artist Ev McDougall to catalogue all of Roberts’ work. “We have more than 200 watercolours unframed, 80 acrylic and watercolour framed, and we aren’t quite finished yet. We are still cataloguing.”
Born and raised in Edmonton, Roberts lived in Dawson Creek for 13 years before moving to Vernon in 1972. She started pursuing her art more as her children grew up, and experimented in various art forms from pottery and stained glass to porcelain and silk painting.
Painting, however, was what appealed to her the most and she started taking workshops, including from well-known artists such as Brent Heighton and Toni Onley, and later taught workshops herself.
She exhibited her work at numerous solo and group exhibitions, and was a member of the Okanagan Artists League (renamed the Okanagan Artists of Canada) as well as the North Okanagan branch of the Federation of Canadian Artists.
Known for her light-filled impressionist landscapes and florals, Roberts painted in many mediums including watercolour, oil, pastels and acrylic. In her later art practice, she started experimenting with painting abstracts.
“Her latest work since 2010 included mixed media acrylics, using a variety of textured products, moulding pastes and gels to create unique forests and mountain paintings,” said Wilson. “She used the same techniques she loved in watercolour, often painting an acrylic painting from a completed watercolour, which I realized, now that I have seen all of her work together. It was a brilliant idea.”
As Roberts put it herself in her artist statement for her solo exhibition, Phantasies of Spring I at the Vernon Public Art Gallery, “All things are difficult before they are easy, but that’s what makes the accomplishments more rewarding.”
Roberts’ work is available to the general public from May 2 to June 4 at Nadine’s Fine Art and Frames, located at 3101 31st Ave.
•• The open house for Mae Roberts exhibition at Nadine’s is on Wednesday, May 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, with music by Champagne Jam ••