Wild women and bad dogs

Mother and daughter join forces for art exhibition and sale

Angela Menzies will be showing a series of nudes at an exhibition at the Sooke Harbour House. On the right is one of series entitled “Unwind.” She is showing her work along with her mother Bonnie Coulter’s newest pieces.

Angela Menzies is a painter of nudes. Sure, she also includes dogs and cats every once in awhile, but her main focus is the female form with all its curves and lines. She celebrates women in a non-sexual way. Her view is the beauty of women as seen in such simple acts as bathing, curled on a rug or sitting in a chair. They are, if an explanation is needed, exotic. Not erotic, not sexual and not offensive in any way.

“I’m inspired by wild women and bad dogs,” she explains.

Menzies and her mother, Bonnie Coulter, will be showing their recent work at the Sooke Harbour House for the month of September. At first the women were to have a joint show, entitled “Breaking the Line,” but things changed.

Menzies had 12 paintings of nudes in the Garden Room but they have since been transferred to the upper foyer. Coulter’s art works will hang without Menzies’ pieces.

Menzies feels a bit censored.

“When you start censoring nudity in art, you are censoring women,” said Menzies.

She knows it is a temporary measure but the timing is not so good.

Frederique Philip, co-owner of the Sooke Harbour House said that while she herself appreciates artful nudes and loves Angela’s work, many of her guests may not. The decision to move the paintings was not censure but a practical move intended to make Sooke Harbour House guests comfortable in a wedding setting.

“If the Garden Room was only used as a living room it wouldn’t have been a concern but we have one wedding and I thought of the guests taking large amount of photographs,” said Philip.

So, wherever Angela Menzies’ work is shown, it is sure to attract a following. Menzies had her felted fibre piece, “Tidal Watcher,” selected for showing at the recent Sooke Fine Arts Show and Coulter had her composite piece, “Seeking Sooke River” selected as well.

Coulter is both a painter and a multi-media artist who considers her world her inspiration. Whether it is the old salmon cans or the found objects along the rocky shoreline of her home in East Sooke, she sees art in all of it. Her canned salmon series are sculptures of the fish made from salmon tins. Her precision comes from a life as a draftsman and the ideas from a lifetime of living.

Both women have studios in East Sooke. Angela Menzies’ studio is called The Brown Dog Studio while Coulter’s is the Boar’s Bristle.

An interesting aside is a blog site where Menzies prompts herself to think and look at art in different ways each Friday.

“I was getting stagnant and unmotivated,” said Menzies. “Life gets in the way.”

As Fridays are her studio days, she decided to explore other methods and mediums for her artistic expression. So, she came up with what she calls “art prompts.” This allows her creative juices to flow and empowers her to get going. It was this avenue that allowed her to work on her felted/assemblage piece for the Sooke Fine Arts Show.

She shares her weekly insights on her website: angelamenziesart.blogspot.com/

The Sooke Harbour House, located at 1528 Whiffen Spit Road, is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Breaking the Line runs from Sept. 1 to 25.

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