Back in 1970, Michel Desrocher’s paintings were selling almost as fast as he could paint them. In July of that year, he held a show of his work at Gainsborough’s house in Sudbury, Suffolk.
“We sold out at Gainsborough’s house and I don’t know if it ever happened again,” said Marion. “It was an exciting time in the 1970s and 80s,” said Michel.
So, for more than 40 years Michel has been painting, and for the last 11 of those years he has been a part of Art in the Park.
Art in the Park began when Ed Macgregor Park first appeared. Michel said he and Adrian Small were talking about the park and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to have art in the park?’
And so it began.
The bright white tents are a familiar sight in Sooke during the dog days of August. This year’s event takes place on August 17 and 18 at Ed Macgregor Park on Sooke Road.
“It’s quite popular actually, when the weather’s nice, it’s fun,” said Marion. “It’s truly a family affair.”
This year there are a number of new artisans and craftspeople selling their art, alongside the familiar faces. A new feature this year is for people who have their own tent, they can set up for both days or just one.
The event always has a varied show of handmade crafts including jewelry, pottery, metal work as well as wood and glass. This year there will be leather, Sooke Sea Salt, blacksmith Justin Gilbertson, a potter from up-Island as well as new painters.
Food is there with Jennie’s Kitchen and of course, the adorable Carole Cave dancers.
Carole Cave’s dance studio was burned out in the July 31 fire at Evergreen Centre and there will be a tent with a silent auction. Cave lost all of the costumes and folks can go and bid on items in the tent.
Insurance just doesn’t cover everything,” said Marion.
Desrochers will have a number of smaller paintings at Art in the Park as well as a couple of larger ones.
“I go mainly to keep in touch with clients and see them there and invite them to the gallery (Sooke Fine Art Gallery at 2016 Sheilds Road).”
He said he has met some very good clients at Art in the Park.
“It’s not a honky tonk little thing, I’ve sold some very large paintings there,” said Michel.
Art in the Park is an initiative of the Sooke Community Arts Council. The Sooke Community Arts Council is a registered not-for-profit society funded by the B.C. Arts Council and the District of Sooke.
The arts council was founded by an enthusiastic group of artists and non-artists and incorporated on October 10, 1987, at which time it was named South Coast Arts Council. After several years of operating under that name, it was felt that it did not reflect the council’s geographical location and/or boundaries so it was decided the name would be changed to the Sooke Community Arts Council (SCAC).
The boundaries of SCAC extend from Port Renfrew, Jordan River, Shirley, Otter Point, Sooke, East Sooke and part of Juan de Fuca, giving a population coverage of some 18,000 people. Other events include Beach Art on September 8, a members’ Christmas art show and a Family Arts Fair held in the spring.
The Sooke Community Arts Council gives small grants in aid not only to member groups and individual members but to members of the community who seek funding for art related endeavours.