Originals Only art show in 10th year

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 11 and 12, artists will exhibit original work in a variety of styles and mediums

A spectacular view of Vancouver Island mountains, a refreshing breeze off Comox Harbour and 60 mini galleries of original art plus artists to talk to and yummy food; life doesn’t get much better than that.

It all happens at Marina Park in Comox this weekend (Aug. 11 and 12).

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, artists will exhibit original work in a variety of styles and mediums. Admission is free.

“This is the 10th anniversary of Originals Only,” says Joe Smith, participating artist and chair of the organizing committee. “That’s a significant achievement for us as many events never make it beyond the second year of operation.”

Smith credits Originals Only’s success largely to the fact that it is organized by participating artists not a third-party organization.

“We have a number of artists who have been with the event since Day One,” he says. “They know what works and what doesn’t. That makes a huge difference. Other communities have tried to emulate Originals Only but without the personal involvement of the artists, it just didn’t work.”

Originals Only is unique in that the volunteer organization is completely self-sustaining.

“Some major supporters such as the Town of Comox through the Recreation Centre and the Comox Valley Record have been with us since the beginning,” notes Smith. “But we believe that art can and — must survive — on its own merits. Instead of grants and donations we support the event through the fees of participating artists. They’re all involved and have a vested interest in making the show work on all levels.”

The focus is on original fine art created by painters and sculptors from Vancouver Island, surrounding islands and Powell River. “There’s a wide range of mediums and styles in traditional forms,” says Smith. “And everything is original, no reproductions.”

Unlike many art exhibits, Originals Only is open to student and emerging artists, as well as professionals. To encourage this demographic, a reduced booth rate is available for students.

“It’s a great opportunity for young or new artists to learn from more experienced ones,” says Smith. “They can see the ways other artists display their art and experience how the public reacts to their art, all with the support and insight of people who have been doing it for a long time.”

“We do jury the show,” Smith adds. “But the main criteria is how serious a person is about their art and showcasing it.”

For those that find traditional art galleries intimidating, Originals Only is a great way to experience a wide variety of art in a casual atmosphere. And the artists are present to talk about and explain their work.

“We get a lot of visitors over the two days,” says Smith. “Some people just like art and appreciate being able to view so a large variety all in one place. Sometimes collectors find an artist they like and make an investment.

“And people always comment on the wonderful setting, the relaxed atmosphere and that there’s enough room in the park that it never feels crowded.”

If all that fresh air and art makes you hungry, the Never Bean Better Coffee Hut will offer a selection of breakfast fare including bacon and egg on a bun, muffins and other local baked goods. Later in the day, there will beef on a bun, veggie pot stickers, hot dogs and a selection of coffees and other refreshments.

For a sneak preview of artwork and artists, visit

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