Last minute Christmas shoppers don’t have to leave town to find the perfect gift.
Shopping locally is one of the best things you can do for the economy and potter Dee Aguilar is hoping people embrace the idea of supporting the area’s artists whose survival depends on their patronage.
Aguilar is just one of the many artisans who can be found at the Oceanside Village Artists’ Gallery on Resort Drive in Parksville.
The gallery has all kinds of beautiful artwork created by local artisans adorning the walls and shelves and with prices ranging from $15 to $15,000. Aguilar said there is something to wrap up for everyone on Santa’s nice list.
Aguilar, who is the heart and soul behind the gallery, started the cooperative business for artists in the area.
Each of the artists takes a shift manning the floor at the gallery, but it is Aguilar who juries the work, promotes it and spends a lot of time selling it.
The majority of art at the gallery is from artists in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area including Val and Jai Kealy’s unique pieces.
The husband and wife team designs and carves wood, soapstone and leather.
Together they are known as Q.B. Arts and many of their West Coast inspired pieces reflect Jai’s Cree and Sioux heritage.
Jai puts glass, soapstone and leather into some of his original designs and Val paints some of his carvings and incorporates realistic features into them with her leatherwork.
An example of the collaboration is a piece she calls Poe, named after Edgar Allan Poe.
The famous American writer, critic and editor was well known for his tales and poems of horror and mystery, including his best seller The Raven.
Val’s shiny black life like raven is carved out of alder and has realistic feathers made out of leather.
She said she made her scavenger come to life by adding a lot of fine details.
“Every single one of Poe’s feathers is cut out of leather and flattened. The little lines are burned in with a wood burner … then I die them and buff them with soft cloth to make the sheen,” she explained.
Val said she likes to incorporate leather into her pieces because it creates realistic texture and she is still discovering new techniques with the medium.
“I started doing leather because I wanted to use something other than bark that has texture. I thought about clay and I have a kiln but I don’t know how to run it,” she admitted.
It wasn’t until she found a book on leather from the 1970s in a thrift store that set her on new artistic path.
“The book had information on different types of leather. I had to learn what you can use and what you can’t use. I still haven’t learned everything … I learn as I go.”
Val also carves cottonwood bark harvested from dead trees into whimsical houses.
She said the bird houses are a big seller and she enjoys hearing about the tenants that have moved into them from the people who have put them in their yards.
“The houses are made for wrens and chickadees, but people who have bought them say they have humming birds nest in them. One house had a tree frog that came three years in a row,” she reported.
If you are looking for an original gift, check out the gallery located at the Oceanside Village Resort at 1080 Resort Drive in Parksville. It is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.