A new summer art show is making its bow this weekend in White Rock.
Watercolourist/pastelist Sussanne Hoiberg's Vendel Festival Art Show will be presented Saturday (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at the 'Dancing Firs Retreat' at 13894 Terry Rd. (south of Marine Drive and west of Nichol Road.).
It's an intriguing teaming of work by the host and organizer, together with pieces by internationally known artist Laara WilliamSen, acrylic artist Maggie Hamson, pastel artist Leslie Tannen, metal sculptor Don Francis, and artist/photographer Scarlet Black (Jannette Maedel) – plus the musical talents of acoustic guitarist Ernie Day.
But it's also the culmination of a long-time dream for the Swedish-born Hoiberg, who called the event the Vendel Festival after a family name from her Danish heritage.
"It's been passed on as a middle name since 600 AD – it's part of our barbaric past, but I'm starting a Vendel period of art!" she laughed.
"I've always wanted to have my own art show; to have a studio and help other artists."
But Hoiberg hesitated, until a conversation with her professional life coach, Erin LeGresley.
"She said 'what's stopping you from doing it?' I was focused on all the financial aspects, but she said 'set the date and people will come.'"
Once the decision was made, the elements of the show came together almost magically, said Hoiberg, who has lived in White Rock since 2008.
Still, it's a big step for someone who has always found art the surest form of expression.
"I call myself an experimental painter," she said. "I've painted since I was a toddler. Since I was very young I had problems with my eyesight – and I didn't even speak until I was three-and-a-half. My parents took me to a doctor, but there was nothing really wrong – I just developed differently. But I was able to make beautiful paintings, so full of colour. It was the first time I was able to express myself."
When her family emigrated to Canada when she was approaching six, communication became a problem for her again. She struggled to learn English and express herself, and felt ostracized by her schoolmates.
"I turned to art," she said. "My first mural was in my bedroom, which was a bit of a problem, because we were renting at the time. But all through school art class was my best class."
After studying to be a commercial artist at Capilano College and Kwantlen University (she was one of 20 students who qualified for a two-year program, out of 700 who applied) she worked as a graphic designer.
She also worked full-time as traffic control person for a couple of years, she said.
"I hurt myself at work and all of a sudden I had to think 'what's up – what am I going to do?' That's when my life coach said start painting and paint every single day."
She has also found a line of work conducive to her creativity – working in the film industry as a scenic artist, in which she specializes in 'aging' props and set elements for everything from stories inspired by Greek mythology to decorating a standing Western set in Aldergrove.
Inspired by the beautiful ocean-view venue of the show, Hoiberg said she has sought to find artists and works with a strong relationship to nature.
Her most recent paintings are an interesting multi-layered blend of pastel and crayon drawing, and loosely painted watercolor – an intuitive mix of techniques that makes forms 'pop' in unexpected ways.
"It's only been in the last year that I've figured out how to use watercolor and pastel like that," she said adding that she enjoys an approach that is neither purely abstract or purely representational.
"A lot of my paintings come to me in dreams," she said.
For more information, email email@example.com, call 604-785-5029, or visit www.vendelfestival.weebly.com