Famous artist Ken Kirkby, painting headline Pacific Rim Arts Society AGM Sunday


A luminary on the Canadian art scene has upped the ante on attending Sunday’s annual general meeting of the Pacific Rim Arts Society.

Ken Kirkby has donated an original 24×48” oil painting, valued in the thousands of dollars, as a door prize for members in good standing in attendance.

Kirkby, whose graphically stunning and powerful works have on occasion fetched half a million and which adorn the walls of major museums and galleries, said his interest in the West Coast has been fueled by long conversations with gallery owner and painter Mark Penney.

“Art, when it’s used properly, can have a most powerful effect on society. When art and production of art is used to help build a community and connect it up to other endeavours that are going on in society on a daily basis, what you have is culture. Culture, as we know it today, is the arts – the totality of thoughts and actions in a single day by a total people or population – that is our culture,” he said.

“Art is an invaluable part of building community,” Kirkby said.

“I take a very simple, no-BS approach to the idea of what this is and what it can be used for,” he said.

Kirkby’s Bowser-based efforts have, through the Nile Creek Enhancement Society, raised a few million dollars to restore seven rivers “without having to go cap in hand to others,” he said.

“We now have all local communities in a single entity, pulling in one direction. What we did, how we did it and what the outcome is – may be of use to other folk,” Kirkby said.

Asked to do a keynote speech, Kirkby smiled and said, “I tell stories. Here’s what happened here and see if it might be useful to you.”

Art, he said, can make a difference.

“It could make Tofino-Ucluelet, as we are doing here, a destination for all manner of things – including art,” he said.

Showing works by some of Canada’s top painters as well as regionally well-known artists like Marla Thirsk, Penney’s gallery attracts serious art investors from places like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto.

On that list, Ken Kirby.

“I love having him out here  – every time he comes out here, he spends time looking at things I love the most,” said Penney, noting that time the artists spend on the West Coast inevitably lead to great depictions of the beauty to be found here.

“It’s pretty diverse … you could be on the way to the wharf for a tour, and pass an eagle, a deer, and the rest of it before you even bought the ticket,” Penney said.

A PRAS director, Penney said he is excited for new things going on with the West Coast-wide organization  â€“ strategic thinking, forward planning, the impeccable little show space just behind the Village Green and new partnerships and grants.

The PRAS meeting, set for 2 p.m. at Darwin’s Cafe at the Tofino Botanical Gardens, will host a discussion about the arts with special guests Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne and Kirkby.

PRAS is seeking potential directors to oversee the use of PRAS’ new Art Space, and develop the PRAS volunteer base to make next year’s events even better.

A PRAS membership is not required to attend, but you must be a member in good standing and in attendance to be eligible for the prize draw. Memberships are $10. (Featured Artist memberships are $30.) A luminary on the Canadian art scene has upped the ante on attending Sunday’s annual general meeting of the Pacific Rim Arts Society.