The opening reception of an exhibition at Gallery 8 is always a busy and celebratory affair, with those who want to actually see the art advised to come early, or return the next day.
The eighth annual Symbolically 8 show, which opened Friday night, represented an important milestone for the space and for gallery owner Razali May, and was even more packed than usual with artists and clients there to wish him well. May lost most of his voice just greeting people Friday night, and was recovering but happily still welcoming masses of visitors the following day.
The show itself, found in the upstairs exhibition room, reveals the evolution of the space and Razali’s curating skills over the past eight years. Many of the core artists remain the same as when he bought the gallery from Judy Mitchell, but there are also new names every year, both Salt Spring artists and a select number from the West Coast and other parts of Canada.
Visitors will find new works from gallery stalwarts such as JD Evans, EJ Feller, Bill Boyd, Donna Hall, Jan Sharkey Thomas, Dennice Stambuck and Ida Marie Threadkell that show how experienced artists with a distinct voice can constantly explore and grow. Janis Woode has two interesting variations on her wrapped wire art, both of which embrace the “eight” theme. A tiny figure navigates an elaborate set of gates in a piece titled The Next Eight. Each frame is inset with rectangles made of the welded crossbars, creating a three-dimensional puzzle that melds Escher and Mondrian. Woode’s Size 8 is a playful take on the theme, with life-sized wickedly pointed high heels made from a rainbow of reclaimed telephone wires over perforated steel soles.
Many other artists and works remain to be discovered. Symbolically 8 continues through May 8.