Sookies will be sad to hear the Sooke Fine Art Gallery, a business that has operated in Sooke for nearly 28 years, is closing down at the end of October.
But owners Marion and Michel DesRochers don’t wan’t to see it as a goodbye, but more so as moving on to more important things, such as being closer to their son Simon, in Victoria.
And they’re certainly not retiring, either; both will remain active with the Sooke arts community, and Michel will continue painting at his heart’s content.
“We will miss Sooke. You don’t spend 28 years in a place without missing some of the things, especially the people. We’ve made some good friends here, but we won’t lose them. The [Sooke] Fine Arts Show has been a part of us too, and we won’t give that up,” Marion said.
The pair has opened art galleries in villages both in England and France, and spent a significant amount of time between the two countries.
When they came to Sooke in 1987, they opened up a small art gallery where the Sooke News Mirror office currently is, and operated from there for several years.
Marion specialized, and specializes, in creating custom picture frames, while Michel, who formerly worked as a creative designer in Toronto, would create the unique paintings that would fill them.
It was a match made in heaven.
“An artist can have their own gallery by themselves, but it’s very hard work to keep it going, so in this case, it worked out well for us that I painted and Marion built the frames,” said Michel, whose passion has been landscapes and marine scenery.
“Artists may not be good at framing because they are too involved in the painting, she [Marion] can see it from an objective point of view from a wall or a decorative space.”
Their time in Sooke wasn’t just strictly business, either. Both have also worked closely with the Sooke Fine Arts Society as well as the District of Sooke on several fundraising and community projects, such as painting murals for numerous pump stations and bus shelters across town, as well as supplying all the frames currently displayed in the Sooke District Community Hall Council Chamber.
DesRochers also lent his brush in completing all 14 pictures down the boardwalk on behalf of Sooke District, displaying various local wildlife and fauna.
“They’ll be greatly missed,” said Brenda Parkinson, who’s been working with the DesRochers on creating various art projects around town for many years.
“Both have been really good to people, always contributing and donating back. They attend all the art events in town, so they’ve been a strong part of the arts community since forever,” she said.
They’ll stop doing what they love, either. Michel said he’ll continue to paint, as he always has been doing, and Marion will pursue other goals. In addition to that, the couple want to get back into an old sport they did for 15 years, which was to take groups of locals to England, France, Italy and Spain, visiting art galleries, medieval castles and other historical sites.
“It started as a fun thing, and we’d like to start that up again,” DesRochers said.
And don’t worry, they won’t going anywhere without a big celebration.
On Sunday (Oct. 25), all Sookies are invited to drop by the Sooke Fine Arts Gallery for a little party, complete with champagne and fine wine, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.