The walls of the Fort Gallery will be a study in contrasts, as two very different shows run simultaneously, beginning July 31.
Robert Wakefield’s masculine, bold, heavily textured and structured “Signs of the Times” series will show side by side with Bette Laughy’s lush, sensual and essentially feminine, “Irises” series.
Influenced by the Impressionists and Canada’s Group of Seven, Wakefield works in oils. “I love the texture of the oil paint when applied to the canvas, and how it can be manipulated,” he said.
“The impressionists and the Group of Seven’s use of bold colour and texture always elicited strong emotions, and a desire to make my own mark as an artist,” added Wakefield, who uses lots of paint in pure rich tones, laying colour upon colour to capture the beauty of a landscape scene.
Inspired while reading about the demolition of the Ridge Theatre, Wakefield began thinking about the iconic signs throughout the Lower Mainland that have disappeared over the years.
“With over 19,000 signs in the 1950s, Vancouver was a sign mecca, with reportedly more than almost any city in the world,” Wakefield said.
This series is Wakefield’s take on some of those that have gone, and some that still survive.
For Laughy, the exhibit marks her first solo show in two years, having decided to give herself time to play without pressure. She found the new pan pastels and the suede board that was invented for them.
“It was like coming home, and I have found the materials I want to work with for the foreseeable future,” she said.
Using other chalk pastels with the pans produces an effect that resonates with her.
“I am in love with the process, the sensual feel of the interplay between medium and ground, subject and ground.” While there is some tension, Laughy says, “there is no stress while working with them”.
The two shows run at the Fort Gallery from July 31 to Aug. 15. The opening reception will be open to the public, and will be held on Friday, Aug. 2, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with both artists in attendance. The Fort Gallery at 9048 Glover Rd. is open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Visit the gallery’s website at