Susan Falk is toasted by JARFO gallery’s Jo Ishida, during the opening of her exhibit RED- Circle of Life in Kyoto, Japan last month. Despite the logistical challenges of transporting several massive works of art across the Pacific, the Langley painter knew she had to represent Canada on a grand scale.

Langley artist comes Full Circle with Japan exhibit

Grizzlies and salmon displayed on a grand scale in Susan Falk's RED- Circle of Life exhibit in Kyoto

Japanese audiences were treated last month to a uniquely Canadian experience — exhibited on a grand Canadian scale.

Susan Falk’s May exhibit at a small gallery in Kyoto, was very much a ‘go big or go home’ scenario, chuckled the Langley artist, who recently returned from a two-week visit to the city, located about 450 kilometres southwest of Tokyo.

Falk had been invited to exhibit her work in Japan several times over the years, by a friend who works in holistic medicine and often travels to the island nation for work.

Two years ago, he approached her again. This time, Falk was ready, having been on the lookout for something a bit different to do.

So in April, 2014, she traveled to Kyoto as a visitor.

Her trip coincided with the city’s annual cherry blossom festival.

Despite her wonderment at the rich colours, ornate detail and sheer scope of Kyoto’s ancient temples, it was all a bit overwhelming for the artist, who lives on a south Langley acreage, immersed in nature’s quiet rhythms.

“Every tourist in the world who wanted to look at cherry blossoms was there,” she laughed.

During her visit, Falk’s hosts, Tom and Joe, introduced her to Jo Ishida, the director of Kyoto’s Art Forum Jarfo.

She showed him some of her drawings and told him a little about herself as an artist.

About a month after she returned home, she received an email, inviting her to mount a solo exhibit in a month of her choosing.

One part of that decision was easy; she would avoid April at all costs.

Once she’d settled on a May show, Falk tackled the more complex decision about what to exhibit.

“I started racking my brain. I thought, I could take the easy route and select from my existing collection. Or, I could start a whole new body of work.”

“As a Canadian, what would I like to bring to Kyoto?”

She knew that other Canadians exhibiting in Japan in the past had brought small, Tom Thomson-style works. That wasn’t the route she wanted to go. At all.

“I thought, I’m going big — grizzlies and sockeye.”

The resulting series, titled RED – Circle of Life, celebrates basic survival, strength, determination, reproduction and the transfer of strength and energy from prey to predator.

The largest pieces of the 10 she painted for the show are nine feet high. The intent, said Falk, was to create the greatest possible impact on the viewer.

Size isn’t a factor when you’re displaying locally, noted Falk. But she had to come up with a creative way to get the pieces across the Pacific without spending a fortune in the process.

She started by painting them on a lighter weight of canvas than she normally uses. And, rather than frame them, she mounted the canvases on doweling rods — similar to a Japanese scroll — and added hooks.

This way, they could be rolled and shipped by air in one relatively small crate.

Once the paintings arrived, the exhibit was hung in such a way that people walking in the door would immediately come face to face with a massive grizzly swiping at a salmon.

The nine-foot-high piece was mounted several feet up the wall, so that the water appeared to flow onto the floor, explained Falk.

“It was all about impact, and showing that emotion and strength. Each (large) painting had its own wall, which was fabulous because nothing was crowded.”

“There was just a wonderful reaction from people walking into the gallery. “

Dedicating his entire gallery to works by an artist from the other side of the world was a risk for Ishida, said Falk.

“But it was a good risk.”

He invited her to come back next year and bring other Canadian artists with her.

Falk said she is turning over the idea of returning in 2016 or 2017.

“Next time, it will be smaller works on paper,” she said. “They’re easier to transport.”

This time, Falk admitted, it was more about knocking her hosts’ socks off.

“I wanted to show them what I do.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Brandon Nathan Teixeira, arrested last December in California in connection with a fatal 2017 shooting in South Surrey, is next due in court on Nov. 12. (File photos)
Notorious South Surrey fugitive returns to court Nov. 12

Brandon Teixeira was arrested last December in California

THROUGH YOUR LENS: Micheal McGarry shared a snap shot of autumn, in the form of a tugboat trolling down the Fraser River, as he recently saw from the Edgewater Bar area of Derby Reach Regional Park. Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, email to: editor@langleyadvancetimes.com. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Reflections of autumn

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

A case of COVID-19 at Langley Lodge was declared over on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 (Langley Advance Times file)
COVID-19 case over at Langley Lodge

No new cases have been discovered

Mary Foote (right) took part in the Gutsy Walk in August 2020 at the age of 104. She was joined by son in-law Clarence and daughter Edith Olson. (family photo)
Langley woman turns 105 on Oct. 25

In August, Mary Foote took part in the Gutsy Walk to battle Crohn’s and Colitis

Maple Meadows Station’s new Bike Parkade. TransLink photo
TransLink to remove abandoned or discarded bicycles from bike parkades

Rules at TransLink bike parkades ask customers to use facilities for single day use only

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Officers with the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team were at a White Rock home Tuesday (Oct. 20) to assist Vancouver Police Department with execution of a search warrant. (Contributed photo)
ERT, VPD response to White Rock home connected to homicide: police

Search underway in the 15800-block of Prospect Crescent

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Most Read