‘City Squares’ exhibit now open at Amelia Douglas Gallery
By Cheryl Minns, Senior Columnist
“City Squares” is a collaborative art exhibit featuring 48 works by British Columbian artists Martha Jablonski-Jones, Judy Villett, and John Steil. The exhibit is currently on display in the Amelia Douglas Gallery at the Douglas College New Westminster campus and is part of the annual New West Cultural Crawl.
The exhibit’s paintings, textiles, and drawings depict various aspects of urban living, each in a 12” x 12” square format. The works are available to purchase for $350 each.
“I’ve been painting city scenes for a long time now,” Courtenay artist Jablonski-Jones said to the Other Press during the exhibit’s opening reception on August 10. “When I was living in Calgary, Da Vinci’s Inquest got me painting cities and alleys. I would fly out to Vancouver and take a whole bunch of photos, then go home and paint them.”
The exhibit contains 16 of Jablonski-Jones’ acrylic, mixed media, and photo transfer works, which are a colourful compilation of scenery, textures, and items present in city spaces. In a display box in the gallery, she breaks down her artistic process for her acrylic and mixed media piece Rusty 8 from its initial sketch to the finished product, which features a rusted metal 8 affixed to a painting of a red door.
New Westminster-based Villett has 16 textile works in the exhibit that explore different aspects of urban living, such as crumbling stonework, peeling paint, and metal fencing. The works are made from photographs she captured on her iPhone that were printed onto fabric and then embellished with stitching, felting, and other textile techniques.
“As long as I’m working with cotton, I’m happy because it is very easy to treat. You can paint it, you can dye it, you can stitch it many different ways,” Villett said about her art to the Other Press during the opening reception. “Now I’m able to incorporate my own photographs into the work, which is very uplifting and satisfying for me.”
Vancouver artist Steil has 16 black-and-white, ink on paper works in the exhibit that feature abstract views of city grids, river paths, and components of nature, as well as a striking piece called Drama in Time that states in bold, capital letters: “A CITY IS MORE THAN A SPACE IT’S A DRAMA IN TIME.” He also has a display box in the gallery that showcases his creative process, from being a community planner who creates doodles during business meetings, to exploring foreign countries like France and Italy for inspiration, to turning his doodles and ideas into finished art pieces.
“When you start, you have an idea of some structure,” Steil said, describing his art to the Other Press during the exhibit’s reception. “Layers is like a cross-section. You can look at it as a sky and trees on top, and then below is all underground—maybe it could be a sewer pipe, or geology, or gravel.”
For more information about the artists and their works, check out their official websites at MarthaJonesArt.com, JudyVillett.com, and JohnSteil.com.
Jablonski-Jones, Villett, and Steil will be discussing their art and the “City Squares” exhibit at the artists’ talk at 6:30 pm on September 10 in the Amelia Douglas Gallery.
City Squares will be on display until September 14 in the Amelia Douglas Gallery on the fourth floor of the Douglas College New Westminster campus.