Plenty new at Comox Valley Art Gallery

New look, new exhibits and new personnel have art gallery enthusiasts buzzing

Comox valley art Gallery curator Angela Somerset and executive director Glen Sanford enjoy the form and function of visual artist Heather Koning’s chairs in front of the gallery. Three new exhibits

Comox valley art Gallery curator Angela Somerset and executive director Glen Sanford enjoy the form and function of visual artist Heather Koning’s chairs in front of the gallery. Three new exhibits

Paula Wild

Record Arts


Art isn’t just a pretty picture on a wall. It’s about creators stretching their limits and viewers being exposed to new interpretations of what art is and what it means to them.

The Comox Valley is fortunate to have a publically funded gallery that facilitates the exchange of ideas on the meaning and context of art physically, emotionally and culturally.

Three very diverse exhibits are currently on display at the Comox Valley Art Gallery in downtown Courtenay. In addition, the storefront window space is hosting live performances and installations and the art gallery foyer is set up with a video viewing booth showcasing the work of the CVAG Youth Media Project.

“The programming is quite complex,” says Angela Somerset, CVAG curator. “We’re implementing the strategic plan that was begun several years ago with a big emphasis on bold and provocative art and as much outreach into the community as possible.”

“Insterstice: An Intervening Space” features the work of five Emily Carr University graduates from the North Island College Fine Arts Program in the contemporary gallery and runs until June 14.

Judi Pedder, a Comox painter known for her vibrant and colourful watercolours, is exhibiting paintings and dye on silk in the community gallery. “Aqua, Colour, Florum” runs until June 21.

And on display in the George Sawchuk gallery until May 21 is “Faces: Familiar and Friends,” a presentation of drawings by senior secondary students Haeli Frost-Mitchell and Lindsay Nixon.

The “Window Project” is a series of installations by a variety of artists running Tuesdays through Saturdays with live performances choreographed by Carrie Tannant in the gallery front window every Saturday from 2 to 4 pm. Visit for more details.

“in-a-vision” is the work of participants in the CVAG Youth Media Project.  Working as a team, the nine youth have created videos expressing their vision for change in the Comox Valley. Until June 14 the videos run on a loop feed at a viewing terminal just inside the gallery doors.

But a change in exhibits isn’t all that’s new at CVAG. Renovations on the main floor and basement have given the community gallery a cleaner, more contemporary look, better utilized storage space and transformed the lower level into an office, media lab and art laboratory.

Also new to CVAG is Glen Sanford. In January Sanford took the place of Sharon Karsten as executive director during her one year maternity leave.

Born and raised in the Valley, Sanford graduated from Vanier Secondary in 1979 and studied Fine Arts at the University of Concordia. A long-time fan of the Arts Alliance (previous name of CVAG), Sanford has volunteered or served as a director for many galleries and has an extensive background in film. His work has been shown at festivals around the world and received the Best Documentary Award at Cinema Concordia and Best work from an Emerging Artist at the Images Festival in Toronto.

Angela Somerset is another new face at the gallery since the beginning of the year. Originally from Winnipeg, Somerset obtained an MFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 1993 and, since that time, has developed an award-winning interdisciplinary art practise involving independent and collaborative projects across Canada.

Prior to moving to BC, she worked in the Winnipeg arts community and at the University of Manitoba. A Valley resident for three years, Somerset taught at North Island College before joining CVAG.

“It’s a large responsibility to provide opportunities for community members and to bring in work people can experience in different ways,” she admits. “My goal is to create a meaningful balance between community support and ways to stretch people’s perceptions and comfort zones. I enjoy the challenge of calling out that curiosity and working on the edge of discomfort.”