A natural appreciation

Sally Cole
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P.E.I. creative community shows its gratitude for Island’s natural beauty in Bet-R Plan Art Show on view at Gallery@the Guild until March 3

Click here for a YouTube video on the exhibit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmMcyUge4uQ

Island artist Susan Christiansen stands next to her painting, Beyond the Trees. She’s one of six artists taking part in the Bet-R Plan Art Show at The Gallery@The Guild in Charlottetown until March 3. The exhibition also features work by artists Ron Arvidson, Shirley Gallant, Bruno Peripoli, Sylvia Ridgway and Monica Lacey.

In one of the paintings, a leafless tree is silhouetted against a vibrant orange, yellow and blue sky.

On the horizon, a narrow red bank juts out into the water.

Simply called Beyond the Trees, the artwork is filled with symbolism, says its creator Susan Christiansen.

“The dark tree in the foreground represents the darkness of recent occurrences on the Island in regards to the environment,” says Christiansen, referring to the government’s decision to go ahead with the Plan B highway realignment in Bonshaw despite the protesters’ efforts to stop construction by drawing attention to ecological concerns.

“In contrast, the bright horizon is about looking forward to the future in hope of a better plan for democracy and sustainability for this beautiful Island,” says the P.E.I. artist.

The acrylic painting is one of the pieces in the Bet-R Plan Art Show, on view at The Gallery@The Guild in Charlottetown until March 3. It also features work by artists Ron Arvidson, Shirley Gallant, Bruno Peripoli, Sylvia Ridgway and Monica Lacey.

It’s a fundraiser to help defray costs incurred in opposing the highway realignment as well as supporting the citizen environmental monitors. It’s organized by the P.E.I. Citizens Alliance, a group that grew out of this concern.

As one of the people involved in protesting the Trans-Canada Highway re-alignment, Ridgway got involved in the art show because she feels strongly about the destruction of the old forest growth in the area.

“I felt it was unnecessary and very damaging to the lovely area that was there,” says the P.E.I. artist, standing next to her batik, Seedling, a lush green forest scene.

“I wanted to create something for the show that would celebrate the environment. So the thought came to me, what happens to a seed if it is dropped into a dead tree? Obviously it grows if it’s left alone,” says Ridgway pointing to a tiny tree sprouting out of the old tree trunk.

Peripoli also wanted to celebrate the landscape.

“Trees and leaves cover the Island, yet we take them for granted. We want to make people aware (of) how beautiful P.E.I.’s natural beauty is before it’s all gone,” says the photographer, pointing to Autumn Beauty — Red Maple Leaf.

“I was inspired by the rich hues. After the abundance greens of summer, there is a riot of colour before the bare winter sets in,” he says.

In contrast, Arvidson sets his sites on P.E.I. wildlife. He points to Thieves, one of the bird plates he’s created for the exhibition.

“I became inspired after seeing a photograph that a friend had taken of a couple of crows sitting on a wire. It’s dedicated to the crows of Victoria Park as well as many other crows, seen all over the province,” Arvidson says.

The P.E.I. potter has a soft spot in his heart for these winged creatures.

“A lot of people think they’re not the best birds to have around. But we need to be concerned about the environment and the health of these birds,” says Arvidson, who also one of the organizers in the show.

He says the idea for the exhibition came from community member Ruth Lacey. At the time, she was busy planning A Bet-R Plan Concert, an event set for March 3.

“Once I had decided that we would have the fundraising concert at The Guild, I thought that since there was a gallery there that it would be a wonderful opportunity to have a show that displayed the light and beauty. I immediately went over to see Ron. He came up with the title, A Bet-R Plan, capitalizing on the current issues with government ... and we had the show together in a matter of hours,” says Lacey.

Arvidson hopes that people will walk away from the exhibition with an appreciation for Prince Edward Island’s natural beauty as well as hope for the future.

“We just can’t bulldoze our way through everything. We need to stand up for what we have now. As David Suzuki says, ‘if we do something to the environment, we’re hurting ourselves,’” he says.


If you are going

The Bet-R Plan Art show invites the public to attend the following activities:

Photographer Bruno Peripoli will be at the gallery this Saturday, 1-4 p.m. He will give a talk, Five Steps to Photography at 2 p.m.

Island artist Susan Christensen will work on one of her paintings on Feb. 20 at the gallery, 1-4 p.m.

Organizations: The Guild, The Gallery, P.E.I. Citizens Alliance Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Bonshaw, Charlottetown Maple Leaf Victoria Park

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