New Bowen arts era begins at Cove Commons

A new era has begun in the Bowen arts scene with the opening of the Gallery at the Cove Commons over the weekend. 

After nearly 31 years as an organization, the last 20 housed in the Gallery at Artisan Square, the Bowen Island Arts Council has moved to Snug Cove.

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The first uses of the new space came over the weekend when BIAC held a painting class and opened an exhibit of mini artworks. The Mini Gala exhibit continues throughout this week before ending with an art exhibit and fundraiser on Saturday.

Still to come is the grand opening of the entire Cove Commons, which includes the new space for the library along with the gallery, on April 8. 

The two entities are in separate structures but in a clever design there is a common area – the interior of that space not quite completed – which each has access to. The Cove Commons project adds some 2,800 square feet of new space to the now-hybrid site.

The mini exhibit opened last Friday night and Ross Cone was the first to enter the new space to view artwork. Kathleen Ainscough also has the distinction of claiming a first. The exhibit continues all this week and an evening class Ainscough taught Saturday, Feb. 17, called Eat. Drink. Paint! was the first event to be held and completed in The Gallery at the Cove Commons.

The artist and teacher used Paul Cezanne’s Le Vase Bleu for inspiration as she worked in the new environs with a group of 12 budding Maud Lewis and Bill Reids, each creating their own version of the Cezanne masterpiece. 

Eat. Drink. Paint! returns to the space May 19; Ainscough said she will have that class take inspiration from a Frida Kahlo piece.

For the Mini Gala exhibit, which continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, 64 artists contributed an eight-by-eight canvas of original artwork (paintings, photographs, even 3D multimedia). Visitors can bid on the works.

This historic first exhibit in the gallery space culminates this Saturday, Feb. 24 with the Curtain Up! art exhibit and fundraising event, with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and an auction beginning at 7:30 p.m. BIAC Exec Director Jacqueline Massey said unsold pieces will remain up for sale on Sunday.

The auctioneer for this inaugural evening at the gallery is veteran impresario and actor (The View) David Cameron; musician and actor (The Importance of Being Earnest) Marc Gawthrup will be at the piano. Massey extended gratitude to Aubin and David van Berkel of Opus Framing for donating the 64 canvases and frames, and to the artists for their work.

Creating the Cove Commons involved many. Bowen’s own James Tuer of JWT Architecture was the architect and he delivered an esthetically compelling-to-view gallery that includes a vaulted ceiling and a beautifully designed fibreglass skylight that diffuses light and is situated such that it will cast no shadows. Tuer said much important early design work was done by retired architect, Robert (Bob) McGilvray, who worked pro bono.

The project is being achieved by a team including project manager David Luksha of Z.E.I. Project Management and contractor Paul McGillivray. Tina Nielsen of the library noted that Luksha, a longtime fixture in Bowen’s fastpitch league, also worked pro bono, while Mr. McGillivray and crew brought the project in on time and, with help from Luksha, on budget.

A section phase called of the project, The Plaza, will be realized once additional funding is completed.  The Plaza will be a multi-functional outdoor town square/public plaza that includes a courtyard and a garden.  Events, such as public art showings and all manner of performances, and library programs, will be conducted in this outdoor space.

In related news, BIAC is on the hunt for volunteers to serve as Gallery Hosts. The host role includes promoting exhibits, administering art sales and greeting visitors at events. Details at

The Gallery at the Cove Commons will also be used by BIAC for its performing arts shows, literary readings, a variety of classes, workshops, film showings and other events.  More information on the Cove Commons, and details on how to make a donation, can be found at

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