Artist Nikol Haskova at her home-studio in Yorkson.

‘Feels like coming back home’

Langley artist Nikol Haskova's latest show represents more than art.

She’s had shows at prestigious galleries in Whistler, in Banff, in Toronto, and Seattle, but lately Nikol Haskova’s heart has been back home in Langley.

“I found a yearning to just connect with my community and do more stuff that is less for the galleries and more from the heart,” the artist said from her home-studio in Yorkson.

Destination Right Here, the name of Haskova’s new exhibit at the Fort Gallery, does just that.

A showcase of contemporary paintings, she has a “realistic approach with added funkiness” using acrylic paint, photos, resin, copper wire, Japanese lace paper, and other mixed media.

Most famous for her interpretations of crows, Haskova’s art speaks to the development and rapidly changing landscape of Langley.

“I find crows very admirable because they are survivors,” she said.

“Especially around the area where I live. Just a rapidly growing, developing area — as is much of Langley and the Lower Mainland right now.

“What I’ve noticed is that when all the greenery is gone and the land is flattened, crows are the first ones either to stay or come back.

“They’ll steal the construction worker’s lunches, build nests out of discarded wires — they survive.”

With a desire to do something that is more personal and community oriented, Destination Right Here is not your typical art display.

Rather than simply viewing her paintings, Haskova wants people to feel them and really become a part of the art.

“I want to make it even bigger than that,” she said.

“Just more eclectic, more interesting and more hands-on for people that come.”

Haskova has a number of events planned through the duration of her show from Aug. 26 to Sept. 13 to make this happen.

The first, on Friday Aug. 28, is her opening reception.

Although the “first-Thursday” opener is a tradition of the Fort Gallery, Haskova wants to “shake it up.”

Featuring a surprise musical act, food from Angie Quaale of Well Seasoned and a pop-up painting easel outside, “it’s going to be spicy and fun and uplifting,” she said.

The following weekend on Sept. 6, visitors can join in the art themselves.

Haskova will have a “ginormous” blank canvas, donated by Opus Art Supplies, set up outside the gallery for the public to paint on.

At the end of the day, Haskova will then take the painting home to blend the public’s paint strokes with hers and auction it online.

All proceeds will go to a new lighting system for the theatre at Langley Fine Arts School, where her son is a student.

But the real treat is on the final night, Sept. 13.

Haskova will be hosting a special yoga ceremony with a guided meditation based on her artwork in the space.

Led by Yogi couple Amy and Sean O’Leary, the event will raise money for the Fort Gallery.

Limited to 12 people, the session is first come first serve.

“I think that’s another shying away from the mainstream for me,” Haskova said.

“I’ve gone to many studios in the local area, and I love them. But they left me yearning for something a little more personal.”

That’s why she’s excited to show at the Fort Gallery.

“It kind of feels like coming back home,” she said.

“The Fort Gallery I really admire because they let their artists shine.

“They don’t give restrictions, they don’t shy away from displays in the windows or embracing only one medium — they really let you be yourself.”

The Fort Gallery is located at 9048 Glover Road, and is open Wednesday to Sunday from 12-5 p.m.

To see more of Haskova’s work, visit her website www.nikolhaskova.com.

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