Melanie Desjardines often has the Community Arts Council come to her arts space. This time, the CAC is having Desjardines come to them.
Desjardines, in addition to being one of the region's most well known artists, is the proprietor of Groop Gallery, a downtown creative storefront near the corner of Third Avenue and George Street. It is a place that has hosted CAC events like Art Battle, affiliated exhibitions and classes. This spring it was where the 6x6 Art Auction was held.
Now, with an opening reception scheduled for today, Desjardines will be the artistic guest of honour at the CAC's feature gallery at Studio 2880. Her art show entitled Musings will hang there until July 4.
The title comes from the sundry places and mental spaces from which the show's paintings were sourced.
Some are new, some are our of Desjardines' archives as a way of exemplifying how her style has moved through time.
"I'm so very impressed with how, over the years, she has changed her art structures so completely," said Lisa Redpath, the curator of the Studio 2880 Feature Gallery. "It's almost something I forget, that she started out as a watercolour artist, moved into abstracts, and now she does this amazing work on metal. Each piece is distinctly different but also distinctly Melanie."
"It became a retrospective of works that span about a 15-year period, right up to the day before I left for Toronto on Thursday, some finally making it out of my studio for the first time," said Desjardines, who intensified the exhibition preparation process by jetting off to a family event in Ontario on the cusp of opening. "All the pieces I chose compile a very eclectic mix of materials and substrates ranging from watercolour, acrylic, ink, found objects, collage, copper, metals, you name it, but are all loosely tied together through familial mental or physical process."
Redpath said she couldn't wait to see the combinations Desjardines was going to show up with. It was an unpredictable anticipation for her.
"She is the kind of artist who can pull art from just about anything - the lids of paint cans, lint from the drier," Redpath said. "The word I would have to use for her creation style is 'clever' because everything she sees could have a purpose or meaning in a piece of artwork. She's one of those artists who cause you to say, often, 'wow, I never would have thought of that.' She can find beauty and function in a flakey piece of rust. She has this rare ability to see what it could be inside of what it is."
Even this show was a rethinking of a previous concept. She had a private exhibition once before that she called Musings but the way the pieces were created and then assembled for this show clung to that word, so it got recycled for Studio 2880.
Others have noticed what Redpath sees in Desjardines' talent. Desjardines was inducted into the Federation Of Canadian Artists last year, was accepted into this year's Toni Onley artist project in Wells for nine days in July with artist Peter Von Tiesenhausen as one of the mentors (her third Toni Onley residency), and she has another exhibition coming up in Williams Lake with her aunt.
"Its title is Lost And Found and explores life, loss, and resiliency," said Desjardines.
First, though, she has some Musings to ponder and present in Prince George.
The public is invited to come to the opening reception of Desjardines' work at Studio 2880 on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. It is free of charge and refreshments will be available.