© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Artists welcome Adam Sultan as a new member of the Howes Hall Gallery in Brackley Beach. The abstract artist moved to P.E.I. five years ago. From left are Margaret Muzika, Mary Roscoe Murphy Robertson and Linda Shaw Packard.
The shifting sands of time have brought changes to Howes Hall Gallery.
When it opened four years ago in Brackley Beach, seven women were creating and showing their work.
After the first year, Mary Carr Chaisson left to pursue other projects.
Sadly, Janet Mays died in 2010. She was one of the founding members.
Since then, the five remaining member artists — Betty Jenkins, Margaret Muzika, Linda Shaw Packard, Mary Ploughman-Jones and Mary Roscoe Murphy Robertson — have carried on.
The latest change is that, for the first time, a man has been added to the mix. Abstract artist Adam Sultan is the gallery’s newest member.
“Mary Robertson is a friend of mine. She convinced me to have an exhibition. So, I rented the backroom gallery for a show last year. It was very successful,” said Sultan.
“Then, while the show was going on, I got to meet each of the artists because I had to be there seven days straight. We got along really well,” says Sultan, who moved to P.E.I. five years ago from British Columbia.
Later, when he invited them to his studio to learn abstract techniques, their relationship grew.
“So, when he expressed an interest in becoming a member, it just sort of happened,” says Robertson.
After a summer of working together members say that Sultan has been a great addition to the gallery.
“He adds punch and vitality to the group. I love the new mix,” says Jenkins.
“Adam adds a new dynamic. He’s easy to get along with and has a generous helping of common sense and a wry sense of humour. Also, his work is well recognized in the artistic community and we’re really happy to have him with us,” she says.
Packard recognizes his input.
“It’s always good to have a male’s point of view. Men often get to the point quicker when they’re asked a question or an opinion. They don’t mince words. They just tell it like it is. But really it makes no difference about his gender,” she says, with a laugh.
From Sultan’s perspective, the feeling is mutual.
Being part of the group means a great deal to the artist who has attended the Kansas City Art Institute and the Emily Carr Institute and holds a fine arts degree from Ottawa University.
“It makes me feel that I belong to the community. Often, as an artist, your life is so secluded. Stuck by yourself, in your studio, you don’t meet anybody.
“But being part of this group means that once a week I have to be at the gallery — every sixth day. So I get to meet the artists and the clients. Interacting with other people, away from my studio, gives me a good feeling,” says Sultan, whose work, which has been shown on both coasts of Canada, has been described as ethereal.
He has never painted commercially. Instead, he paints from within.
“Often, I wake up in the morning inspired by an image from my dreams. Then I sit down at my easel and paint the whole day. It’s never from a photograph or live image, but from within. As I think about it, it speaks to me and I work with it. And I never know what the end result is going to be.
“When I was living in Vancouver, I saw a lot of people. So I painted abstract figures because of what I saw in the city. Now that I live on P.E.I., I am inspired by the sand dunes and the beaches,” says Sultan, putting the finishing touches on Opus 1, a P.E.I. seascape.
At the gallery fellow member artists admire his work.
“I love his methodology. Adam has a unique style all his own. He has wonderful energy and ideas,” says Jones.
AT A GLANCE
In the spotlight
-Who: Adam Sultan
- Where: His work is currently on view at Howes Hall Gallery, Details Past and Present.
-Artist’s statement: “My working process is a kind of spiral in which I circle around an idea or cluster of ideas, gradually coming to a resolution or completion. In this process the different formats and media in which I work provide insights into each other. Any given series may take years to reach completion and even then I am rarely convinced that a series is complete. Images evolve, new ones develop, and old ones recur. Similarly, as my ideas develop and change, new themes emerge and old ones are taken up again in a spiral of creative energy.”