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ArtSplash! showcases Island artists during whale celebration in Tofino - Ucluelet

Pacific Rim Arts Society excited to highlight local talent at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet
Ucluelet artist Brent Halfyard, a right handed painter who sketches with his left hand, sketches out his ideas for his currently untitled new painting as an artist in action on Wednesday, March 20, at ArtSplash! hosted by the Pacific Rim Arts Society at Ucluelet’s Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. (Andrew Bailey photo)

West Coast creativity will be on full display as the Pacific Rim Arts Society celebrates ArtSplash from March 15-23.

ArtSplash is the largest, local, non-juried art show and has been running for more than 30 years with its popularity growing rapidly along with the number of artists it highlights.

Last year’s event drew in 60 artists and about 180 pieces and this year’s event is expected to be nearly double that size with more than 100 artists contributing about 300 pieces.

PRAS launched the event to help West Coast artists showcase their talents and work while also raising awareness of the local art community.

“Arts and culture is a big part of any community, especially on the West Coast it’s a huge part,” PRAS executive director Kelly Deakin told the Westerly News, adding the local scenery attracts creative minds. “We live in the most beautiful place on Vancouver Island, in BC and in Canada….It’s just a beautiful place to live.”

She added the ArtSplash show features a wind range of work including: jewellery, mixed media, photography, painting, woodwork, clay and glass that ensures a myriad of experiences for goers to enjoy.

“It’s the most exciting event we do all year. We get to showcase all the artists and all their great artwork and it gets the artists together,” she said. “Artists are very excited. They start contacting us in January asking us when the entry forms are going to be out.”

The art will be displayed inside Black Rock Oceanfront Resort and Deakin said PRAS has been delighted with the partnership and the venue for the past 12 years.

“It’s a beautiful venue. It’s a desired spot to be and just a great place for us to host such a big, well-organized event,” she said. “We can’t say enough about Black Rock because they have hosted us for so many years. I love working with the events team there…They’re excited to have the artwork there, it brings a lot of people in and tourists in and gives something for their guests to participate in. They’re just an awesome supporter of the arts society…Thanks so much to Black Rock for hosting us every year. It’s an awesome venue.”

She added an opening night event is open to the participating artists, from throughout Vancouver Island, and their guests to meet each other and learn about the abundance of work being created before the show opens to the public on Saturday.

Goers will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite piece for the People’s Choice Award, with the winning artist being featured on the following year’s ArtSplash poster. Judy Schmidt earned the award last year and won the right to be featured on this year’s poster.

“It’s a great honour to have your piece chosen by the majority of people. It brings recognition to the artist and all of the work that they do in their pieces,” Deakin said.

Donated pieces will also be raffled off throughout the show with the funds raised going back into future ArtSplash events.

ArtSplash coincides with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival and Deakin said both events benefit from the synchronized timing.

“It’s beneficial for both entities because we’re both two non-profits who are striving to make awareness in the community about our environment, about our community, about what our small towns can offer,” she said.

She added getting artist’s work in front of tourist’s eyes can lead to artists being discovered by new demographics.

“Quite often visitors to the community are looking for a specific type of artwork and this gives them the opportunity to meet artists who do the type of work that they like to collect,” she said. “Somebody will discover them and then they become a collector of that person’s artwork…For instance Marla Thirsk has a lot of followers. Some people specifically come just to see her work and they might find somebody else who they like and start collecting.”

Deakin said that along with showcasing West Coast artists, the ArtSplash event also helps raise awareness of the society that supports them.

“Next year will be (PRAS’) 55th year and there’s still people who are just finding out about us. So, it’s really important for us to be out there doing large events like this so people become aware of what we do and we do do a lot,” she said, noting the society helps host Missoulla Children’s Theatre, Pacific Rim Summer Festival, Cultural Heritage Festival, Battle of the Bands, a variety of workshops as well as a new arts and culture trail walk.

“We do a whole range of things to support artists from musicians to dancers to painters to you name it.”

Anyone interested in learning more about PRAS can pop into the Orange Door Gallery at 250 Main St. in Ucluelet or find them online at

“We’re always happy to take on new members and we’re here to support the artists through whatever we can,” she said.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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