Fine Art Show draws thousands

Thousands of people came through the doors of the Mary Winspear Centre to see some of the best in local, provincial and national artwork

David Reano of Sidney uses a magnifying glass to inspect the detail in a fabric painting by Alison Hodson — one of the pieces of art in the running for the People’s Choice Award at the Sidney Fine Art Show.

Alison Hodson’s An Old Favourite was getting a lot of looks by visitors to the Sidney Fine Art Show on Sunday.

Organizers said that was the case throughout the weekend, putting the mixed media work in the running for the People’s Choice Award.

Thousands of people came through the doors of the Mary Winspear Centre to see some of the best in local, provincial and national artwork. Art Show chair Sandy Bligh says she has heard it in almost every year of her involvement in the event, but noted people kept saying this year’s show was the best yet.

“The response has been awesome,” she said. “I’ve been doing this since the show started 11 years ago and it keeps improving.”

Bligh, who also designed the gallery for the show, has been the chair for the last three years.

“People have been telling us all weekend that they think it’s the best show ever.”

A competitive show, the event cut off entries at 1,250 pieces. Bligh said 385 were accepted and judged by a panel of professional artists from Gabriola Island, Vancouver and Fort Langley. Winners were announced prior to the weekend in the Fine Art Show catalogue (they can also be seen at www.sidneyfineartshow.ca). Winners received cash prizes, not to mention having their work on display and up for sale at the show itself. People get to vote for their favourites as well — and those results have yet to be tabulated.

Bligh is one of the 300 volunteers to dedicate their time each year. It is a volunteer effort and people put in an estimated 6,000 hours this year, said Susan McIntyre, a member of the board. The space is designed by Bligh to welcome people into the gallery and take them into different areas, seeing as many works of art as they like.

The Sidney Fine Art Show was the kickoff to the ArtSea Festival, which runs to Oct. 27 at various locations around the Saanich Peninsula.