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Joan Baron’s wonderful world

Fair-weather painter’s Unreal Perception embraces warmth

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What: Joan Baron — Unreal Perception

Where: Millennium Place Upstairs Gallery

When: Aug. 2-31

Art is known to probe and disturb and outrage and incite.

But sometimes it’s just there to make everyone feel good.

Unreal Perception, an exhibition of acrylic landscapes by Whistler painter Joan Baron on display for the month of August in the community gallery space at Millennium Place, is definitively the latter.

As comforting as a cup of tea, Baron has created a collection of dreamy vistas painted in rich, warm tones with a liberal use of the marigold hue that shows itself in the magic moments just before sunset.

"It’s a very small space in time," the artist confirms. "I try to capture that magical moment in my mind’s eye so I can get it down on canvas.

"I’m trying to communicate something that I’ve experienced but want people to share that experience and just feel good looking at it."

Born in the 1950s, Baron trained in the fine arts in California, applying her education to a 20-year career in graphic design and advertising. She currently resides in Whistler and maintains a studio in Vancouver.

While Baron showcased a few works from Unreal Perception at the Mountain Gallery at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler during last month’s ArtWalk tour, the current exhibition at Millennium Place is her first signature show in Whistler.

Baron is clearly enamoured by the views in Whistler and the Sea To Sky corridor, and while each painting in Unreal Perception is unique, there is continuity in their warmth. Two adjacent paintings even feature the same scene, contrasting summer and winter glory, but comparable in sentiment.

"That’s the whimsical part of the artist," Baron says. "I guess I was challenging myself, in a way, to see if I could feel the same contentment as I did on a sunny warmer day on a sunny colder day. When people think of winter scenes they think of something that isn’t pleasant to look at. They think it will be cold, and the colours will be dark and it will be very blue. Contrary to that, I find my best winter days are the ones where you can’t help but be outside and you want to stay out as long as the sun is out. They are also very cheery and full of vitality."

The self-described "fair-weather painter" deems her work "deceptively simple," disguising her brushstrokes with extensive layering of colour to produce warmth and depth. Combined with a uniform dark-wooded framing technique that Millennium Place GM Dennis Marriott said has drawn almost as much response as the paintings themselves, the unreal perception of Unreal Perception is a pastoral world void of strife.

Baron readily admits her philosophies are the polar opposite of those of the shock-artist.

"I’m not painting something at this time that’s a commentary or a social statement," she says. "In my case my statement is friendly.

"I still like to see the bright side. I like to see the glass as not half-empty but half-full. It’s more of a positive point of view. I guess that’s my world."

Unreal Perception is on display in the upstairs foyer gallery space at Millennium Place for the month of August. The gallery will have a back-to-school special exhibition for September with the Art of Tazara – featuring new works by local mother-daughter artist team Tazara and Cary Campbell-Lopes.

For information about shows at MY Place call 604-935-8410.

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