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  • “10th Anniversary” Online Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for a..
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  • 15th Solo Art Series – Online Solo Art Exhibition Opportunity

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces its 15th “Solo Art Series”..
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  • Urgent issue of The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: URGENT ISSUE OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE DIFFUSION OF USEFUL..
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  • 2020 Social Distancing Exhibition

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    $1,000 in Artist Prizes. We know, you’re stuck at home. While many are stocking..
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  • 10th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Call for Art - 5th Annual Animal Kingdom Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 5th Annual Animal Kingdom online art competition. For..
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  • Call for Art - Still Life Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for its 14th Quarterly Art Competition – Still Life. For..
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  • 2 ARTIST/ 2 PERSPECTIVES

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The workshop offers an opportunity to have access to two outstanding painters who..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    $4500 in Awards - The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites..
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  • Beacon Original Art Spring Show & Sale

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Annual spring 2-day art show and sale with different artists in attendance each..
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  • Nooks & Crannies Outdoor Art Festival: Call to Artists

    Location: Okotoks, AB

    Okotoks Culture seeks proposals from artists to create temporary public art installations in..
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  • BORDERS - ITSLIQUID International Art and Architecture Festival

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS BORDERS | Venice July-Nov 2020 ITSLIQUID International Art and Architecture Festival Deadline:..
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  • Acrylic Painting Workshop with Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    April 4/5 2020. Learn how to quickly develop rich colour and surface in..
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  • $550.00 Innovate Grants — Call for Artists + Photographers

    Location: , NY

    Innovate Grant is now accepting submissions for the Spring 2020 Cycle. Innovate Grant..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: CANVAS International Art Fair

    Location: London, UK,

    CANVAS International Art Fair THE LINE Gallery, London | May 07 – October 30,..
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  • 27th Lemonville Group of Artists Show and Sale

    Location: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

    Please join The Lemonville Group of Artists for their 27th Annual Art Show..
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  • “Sensuality” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline April 30, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: A glance, touch, dance, flower, scent or piece of chocolate can..
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  • Artwork Shipping Scam

    Location: , AB

    This week an artist on our site was corresponding via email with an..
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  • Geoff Farnsworth: Colour Worker

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    Join the Niagara Pumphouse for the opening reception for the exhibition entitled, “Geoff..
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  • Call for Entries: Art at the Pumphouse

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    The Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre is now accepting applications for participation in Art..
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  • Exaltation : Niagara Pumphouse Instructors' Exhibition

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    Niagara Pumphouse is proud to host the Instructors’ Exhibition as its first show..
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  • Art, Wine, Interior Design Show

    Location: Winnipeg, MB

    Art, Wine, Interior Design Show! Exhibitor opportunities for Visual artists, Interior Designers and Wineries. Finding..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Land and Sky - 2 Artist/2 Perspectives

    Location: Windsor, ON

    PAINTING WORKSHOP AT SHO ART STUDIOS APRIL 3rd 4th and 5th 2020..
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  • Love At First Sight

    Location: Regina, SK

    Love At First Sight / Regina Art Collective members: Dave Gedjos / DeLee Grant..
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  • In Other Words

    Location: Regina, SK

    In Other Words / Regina Art Collective members: Nikki Jacquin / Derek Olson / Mark..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Black & White Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Black & White online art..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020 Venice | April 09 – May..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY 2020

    Location: London,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY – MIXING CULTURES ITSLIQUID International Art Exhibition THE..
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  • Appreciation of the Arts

    Location: London, ON

    Three day art and music event to recognize local artists in London, Ontario...
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  • Call to Artists - 2020 Sooke Fine Arts Show

    Location: Sooke, BC

    Artists are invited to submit work for consideration to the 2020 Sooke Fine..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

    Location: Brussels,

    ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) is back on October 15-18, 2020 for its 14th..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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Jessie Homer French: New Paintings at Winchester Galleries

By Robert Amos August 5, 2004

} Jessie Homer French: New Paintings at Winchester Galleries By Robert Amos 2260 Oak Bay Avenue, 595-2777, until July 31 www.winchestergalleriesltd.com Let’s start with a picture called Country Road, which shows a wayside cross. Not an antique cross outside a quaint Britanny village, but one of those humble ones which now dot our highways. Jessie Homer French painted this, with a straightforwardness that we associate with folk art. There’s no irony in her presentation of a subject drenched in emotional resonance. Country Road, oil on canvas by Jessie Homer French Above the cross, black leafless branches reach up from silhouetted trees - are these the fingers of death? This memorial cross, and the mementoes gathered at its base, speak of the continuation of life. French’s picture is simple on the surface, while our strongest experiences flow beneath it in a powerful undercurrent. The paintings of Jessie Homer French avoid easy resolution. Born in New York in 1940, French came as an adult to Los Angeles. There she raised a family and then retired with her husband to Victoria eight years ago. According to her, these eight have been the happiest years of her life. I’ve puzzled over her art ever since she arrived here, and have tried to understand why it fascinates me. Her paintings of fire, of fish farms, of motels and dog shows - what do they mean? French and I spent two hours talking this over in her waterfront studio recently, and I’ll share what I have learned. The current exhibit of new work features three commanding views of Gonzales Bay after sunset, oil paintings almost two metres across. “I don’t mind doing landscapes,” French told me, “as long as there’s something interesting with the light.” But, clearly, these landscapes are for people who don’t feel comfortable with what she calls “the scarier stuff”. Scary? Consider The Ghost of the Victoria Golf Links, a spectral woman who appears from the darkness against a blue sky. Or Air Light, in which a zeppelin floats at twilight over darkened houses. Or In Frozen Ground, a split level view of graves beneath the earth, and a wolf grieving above. Where is this imagery coming from? French told me she was an only child and enjoyed long spells of aloneness at her parent’s country house in upstate New York. With her dad working in the city and her mother fading away from tuberculosis and depression, the little girl was “totally free - all alone in the forest.” Adept at avoiding school, she mostly taught herself. “What do you need but wilderness and books?” she muses. French recalled a vital moment at age 3 or 4 when she discovered fishing. “I caught my first fish - in my hands, in a brook. Then I did the whole thing,” she went on, “with bent pin and a pole. I remember the exact moment, in Rice’s General Store, when I saw the sign - Eagle Claw Hooks. It was just at my eye level. That was it. I was hooked.” She has always been a “catch and release” fisherman - “no killing,” as she says. Following her passion, she has cast flies into just about every worthwhile river in the west. In the current show, her portrait of famous Cowichan River fishing guide Joe Saysell accompanies two large diagrammatic views of our local pisciculture. These, like her Fly Casting Pool painting, defy perspective. “I don’t have enough art school,” French explained. Her efforts at education were interrupted, and anyway perspective doesn’t come easy to her. Astutely, she noted that it may be “unnecessary and distracting.” She just gets on with painting out her ideas in a deliberate manner. Her style seems adequate to any challenge. A friend invited her to visit the bell tower at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. One of the resulting paintings was created in three sections. Below, the ringers toil. A long centre section is given over to the ropes. Above, the bells swing in the belfry. When I ventured that this was an odd compositional format, the artist reminded me that “above and below” is often a part of her pictures: fishing scenes with fish below the waterline, and graveyard scenes with people in coffins below the earth. French herself seems a buoyant and positive person, but she described to me dark moments of her teen years, “sitting on the train tracks on a trestle, reading Shakespeare’s sonnets and thinking of myself as Anna Karenina.” Since then, shadows have passed across her life. The death of French’s firstborn at six years of age created memories that will never be erased, even in light of her close relationships with the three children who came after. Motel Parking Lot by Moonlight, Indian Caves by a River: Jessie Homer French’s paintings are imbued with an elegiac tenderness, a warm human concern which transmutes sadness into affirmation. She can paint the sunset’s glow with an aching wistfulness. In wordless witness she has depicted the cooling towers of a nuclear cooling tower, as seen from the I-5 in Washington state. And, just as the incipient tragedy begins to loom, the imagery is leavened with levity. How else can you explain her painting of an outdoor dog show in the rain - the gay madness of wolfhounds in dog coats, their owners under umbrellas? There is a beautiful balance of contradictions built into these oils. They are well-made but home-made; straightforward though enigmatic; aware of life’s swift passage yet full of affection for every mysterious moment. There is more here than meets the eye. ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com