Denman Island Studio Tour Welcomes Two New Faces
Shari Dunnet, Eyes on BC | July 2019
The Denman Island Studio Tour is becoming one of the “must-do’s” for art lovers across Vancouver Island. With the Island’s winding roads, pastoral landscapes and notable absence of big box stores, franchised food outlets and the like, Denman Island is a delightful place to tour in search of unique artistic treasures, inspiration, creativity and beauty. This year’s studio tour is no exception with 15 unique venues featuring a wide variety of artistic media from the more traditional to the contemporary – including painting, photography, woodturning, fabric arts, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, mixed media, and more!
This year, we welcome two new artists to the Tour – Katarina Meglic and Mike Van Santvoord. New faces on the Tour, Meglic and Van Santvoord, share common ground in that their work revolves around faces – portraiture. Although their medium, scale and approach are vastly different, they share a fascination with the stories faces tell – the life held within – and the narrative of the body.
“I find people so fascinating to paint – the stories we hold are written on our faces and in our posture,” says Meglic of her subjects, “and I love finding ways to express that.”
Meglic and Van Santvoord have each called Denman Island home for years. While many of the artists on the Tour tend to focus on landscape and natural beauty, these two artists are focused on people – the human landscape – as their main subjects. And storytelling as an underlying theme.
Katarina Meglic considers the human figure to be a vessel of storytelling, and her intimate portraits – whether depicting a salacious kiss, underwater dance, or sleeping child – are compassionate studies of character and experience. Her canvasses are rich with intense colour, expressive line, and thick textures.
“One of the reasons that I paint,” says Meglic, “is to practice this kind of openness, to be willing to convey stories and vulnerabilities.”
In contrast, Mike Van Santvoord works in black and white photography using a digital Leica camera. Whereas there is a textural and painterly looseness to Meglic’s canvases, Van Santvoord’s photographs are highly graphic. His are still photographs that tell their story not so much in flowing gesture as in crisp lines in an interplay of light and shadow. There is a silence about his work and a quiet depth.
“I like the immediacy over that of something more labour-intensive like painting. I choose B+W for its ‘stripped-down’ feel which can make a frozen moment seem even more still”, says Van Santvoord and adds, “besides, I’m colourblind!”
Van Santvoord has dabbled in photography for much of his life, taking his craft more seriously since the early 90’s. Recently he has moved closer to his subjects to engage in more intimate portraiture. “In the beginning, my inexperience left me further from my subject. Then with greater confidence I got more into the action, closer. With portraiture, I’ve gotten closer still.”
Van Santvoord’s photography goes by the name “Dreadful Imagery”, a play on words from his nickname, “Dready Mike”. His voluminous dreadlocks tell the story. You can find more on his work on the studio tour website under “Dreadful Imagery”.
“People are fascinating subjects,” says Van Santvoord and adds, “What is art? I’ll ask myself, if not a human existence. In a manner of speaking it is the pinnacle of art”. Like Meglic’s canvases, Van Santvoord’s photographs tell a story, or perhaps more accurately, they tell multiple stories of their subjects and the life expressed.
Meglic and Van Santvoord will be opening their studios on the Tour for the first time. “Opening the studio, for me, is a very different experience from showing in a gallery,” says Meglic. “It’s my working space, so it’s a little gritter, a little more personal, less polished.”
Visitors will have the opportunity to get up close with the island lifestyle, as country roads, the charming “downtown” village, and bucolic scenery set the backdrop for a colourful and eclectic event. Artists will be on hand to answer questions about their creative processes and inspiration.
The Denman Island Studio Tour takes place July 27-28, 10am – 5pm. This free, self-guided tour includes 15 venues featuring work by emerging, mid-career, and professional artists in a variety of media. All ages are welcome. See the Tour website for a downloadable tour map and more info on all the artists at http://www.denmanstudiotour.blogspot.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/denman-island-studio-tour Maps available on the tour weekend at the Buckley Bay ferry booth and at the Denman Island Art Centre, 1016 Northwest Rd, just at the top of the ferry hill.
Bodies That Tell : Painting by Katarina Meglic at the Guesthouse
Tony Gregson, The Island Grapevine | Oct 2017
Katarina Meglic is a well-known teacher of painting at the Community School. The exhibition of six paintings at the Guest House show why she has repeat students.
Our bodies, Katarina believes, have a story to tell. Wet Psalm, a work in mixed media on canvas, is part of a series about the kiss. The canvas is a paean to lovemaking in the passionate tension of anticipation, not only in the gentle power of the man’s hand on the woman’s cheek, and the focus on the dark red of her parted lips, but in the literal rendering of crowded thoughts, kept to ourselves, in the half-legible words overlaid on the figures. The lovers seem to emerge from a scumble of shadowy tones that gel into their bodies, as if they are manifestations of some passionate ether, shaped and energized by line and sharp shadow and even runs of paint. There is suspense and hope as this story begins.
Untitled, a second canvas in this series, captures the kiss in a totally different light, an ambiguous moment of troubled acceptance or realization, the man’s head blocked in stiffly, with the self-containment of a fact. The wild streaking brushstrokes next to the woman’s puffed sleeve suggest a burning bush of warning.
There are other ways to tell a story. Blindsided and Diving Deep use gestures reminiscent of ballet in the weightless freedom of an underwater world to express intense emotion and grief. The figures in both pictures are beautifully drawn, illumined by light from above. The green translucence of the water conveys an otherworldly sense. Dream-like fragments of phrases hinting at the disaster of betrayal drift over Blindsided like pond weed or fish, as the woman drifts in elegant sensory deprivation.
Diving Deep is the arrival, the start of something awful. The woman has literally just struck bottom, arms and legs akimbo yet one arm flung back in a painful, strangely formal gesture. The face, just visible, is frozen, still lost in the shock of trauma. But the overall effect is one of classical grace, like some goddess flung down from immortal heights for something she didn’t do.
Katarina had an early interest in the Pre Raphaelites of nineteenth century England whose pictures, rich with contextual detail, and graceful, idealized lovers are explicitly story-telling. She studied at the Victoria College of Art and went on to look at a lot of art, especially in Spanish museums.
With a child and a job, she doesn’t have all the time in the world, but she is fortunate in her facility. She is able to paint quickly, and if it doesn’t work out, has no hesitation in starting again.
“Drawing informs everything,” she believes, as her skill and freedom in rendering the human figure shows. Her focus is usually the human figure but lately she has developed an unexpected “obsession” – cats. Feline has all the tension of a cat’s scrutiny, looking at something we can’t see and all the qualities that make cat’s beautiful – their grace, lithe bodies, and latent agility. Where this sudden interest came from, who can say, but she feels cats have something else that you might say the rest of the works in this show attempt to struggle with: sincerity of relationship.