Art coming out of the woodwork

Sources for artistic inspiration have no end, although linking the 1972 Summit Series with classic sculpture is probably a new one.

Painter Curt Bilson submitted “The Thinker” to the emerging artists show at the Coast Collective gallery.

Sources for artistic inspiration have no end, although linking the 1972 Summit Series with classic sculpture is probably a new one.

Standing tall on a plywood board, famed hockey goalie Ken Dryden is captured in earthy tones in a contemplative moment during the historic Canada-U.S.S.R series nearly 40 years ago.

The painting, called “The Thinker,” is Curt Bilson’s offering for the third annual emerging artists show at the Coast Collective gallery in Colwood.

“I find the ‘72 series a poignant month in Canadian hockey and Canadian history,” said Bilson, a 31-year-old graphic artist. “When you talk about Canadian hockey you go back to that story.

“I enjoy Ken Dryden as an intellectual and becoming a member of parliament. I took that all and coupled it with Rodan’s ‘The Thinker,’ and melded it together.”

The emerging artists show gives new, nervous and upcoming artists a chance to display their work without being subjected to a jury process, and each artist is given constructive feedback.

This year about 40 pieces were entered with varying degrees of quality, said Coast Collective co-founder Deborah Czernecky.

“The quality of work from these artists is really fantastic, but there are some that are a little weak,” she said. “But most are pretty good.”

After moving from Calgary to Victoria about 18 months ago, Bilson said the Coast Collective show is an excellent way to get exposure to the local art scene. Calgary has an art scene closely linked with large corporate benefactors, he said, but Greater Victoria has more of a grassroots culture.

“In Victoria, more often artists help each other get noticed,” he said. “But the big money isn’t out there, but that’s not what I’m looking for.”

Bilson ditched his canvas and delved into painting acrylic on wood after painting a portrait of “The Band,” whose rustic, rockabilly image seemed to fit the medium.

“Wood is a nice balance to my comic, pop-art style,” said Bilson, who majored in painting at the Alberta College of Art and Design. “Wood makes it not so slippery and commercial. Wood is a nice starting point. Looking at the wood grain you see images come out of it.”

His work characterizes what Czernecky is seeing slowly develop in upcoming artists — younger adults taking on different mediums, and trying to put their work out there. Paintings still dominate the entries and baby boomer artists are a big part of the show, but younger artists are entering modern pieces such as graffiti tag art.

“The graffiti art is interesting and creative. It’s great to see it come in. It’s great to see more younger people come in,” Czernecky said.

Moreover, for the first time the gallery is exhibiting artists from the Lower Mainland, simply because most galleries aren’t offering beginner shows.

“We’re finding we’ve got more artists from off the Island. We certainly weren’t seeing that a year ago,” Czernecky said. “We are the only ones in the area doing emerging artist shows. (The Coast Collective) is willing to try and be opened minded about who comes in.”

The emerging artist show runs until Sunday at the Coast Collective, 3221 Heatherbell Rd. On Sunday Ron Wilson is lecturing on being a professional artist, 3:30 p.m., by donation. See

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