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Two painters, two tremendous shows open

Squamish artist Paul Paquette's work is at the Adele Campbell Gallery, while Okanagan artist Shannon Ford opens at The Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont

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This weekend is a colourful one at two Whistler commercial galleries — both are showing new works by resident artists.

At the Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery, painter Paul Paquette's solo exhibition has pieces inspired by his new community of Squamish, where he moved from Vancouver a year ago.

"I've been hiking around here, walking around the estuary and mountain biking, and some of my landscapes reflect that," Paquette says at his home studio.

His painting Howe Sound captured a view of the Pacific from the top of the Stawamus Chief. It is alongside an overview of Whistler Mountain and a fractured panorama of the Second Narrows Bridge in Vancouver.

This contrasts with a close-up painting of a group of mussels.

"This is an unusual subject for me," he says.

Paquette recently joined Squamish's volunteer fire service, reflected in his painting of a vintage truck called Fire Engine #3.

"I've been training with them, so I've suddenly become very interested in fire trucks," he laughs.

The experience has also helped him connect with the community.

 "Joining a volunteer fire department was something I was always interested in. It was one of the attractions of moving to a small town," says Paquette.

"The thing with being an artist or self-employed and working from home, there are no defined edges... For me, doing the fire thing has brought back a little more structure. I like that, having a schedule and appreciating the weekends."

He says that he likes his exhibitions to have themes, but there is variety in subjects with Paquette veering from the human-made to nature.

"Each year I try to do something figurative or something mechanical, or architectural," he says.

He has been represented by the gallery for 14 years.

Paquette's reception is at Adele Campbell Gallery on Saturday, March 11 at 5 p.m. The artist will be in attendance, and the exhibition runs until March 24.

Shannon Ford, Mountain Galleries

Okanagan painter Shannon Ford loves to capture the animals on canvas that she sees roaming free near her home.

She lives in a rural hamlet between Oliver and Penticton in the South Okanagan, so there are plenty of opportunities.

Her show, consisting of 25 new paintings at the Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, depicts bears, wolves, horses and bison.

"We are remote and I paint the animals that I am inspired by, that I see around me. I see wildlife every day, and I can go for weeks without seeing another person," Ford says.

The wildlife remains unhabituated to humans, she adds, which means they are more like respectful neighbours. She gets to know individual bears, sees them raise cubs, but there are no damaging interactions.

She recalls watching two wolves carefully stalking a deer with a sense of wonder.

"I carry an air horn and starter pistol with me when I go hiking, but I can sit and sketch them across the valley. It gives me an incredible feeling to watch them at work," Ford says.

Ford has a background as a sculptor, which she draws on as a painter.

"I like to feel the animal, to plug into the real animal and feel its energy," she says.

"That is what I'm after in my paintings. I'm not really representational. I feel the form when I'm painting. I like to stay true to anatomy but free enough to be abstract when I get close."

Ford's use of colour has an opal quality, but beyond this she sprinkles crushed turquoise, gemstones and even gold in the paint as she works.

"All my works in this show have never been exhibited before. There are my bears, they really draw my heart. There are number of wolves," Ford says.

"I've started painting bison because they are just being reintroduced into Banff. A year ago I was asked to paint a bison for the Alberta government's heritage collection. I started hanging out with bison and, oh my goodness, they are an amazing animal."

In these paintings, Ford mixes in sediment from the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta.

Ford's reception is at Mountain Galleries at the Fairmont on Saturday, March 11, at 4 p.m. The artist will be in attendance.

For more information, visit www.mountaingalleries.com and www.adelecampbell.com.

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