Big art on display at BIG show

Making big art can mean big headaches for artists like Kristina Campbell.

From needing help with transportation to losing potential buyers scared of overwhelming their living rooms, the Victoria artist faces extra challenges as a regular painter of large-scale pieces.

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But there’s a reason she still does it. “Go big or go home,” she said in an interview. “I think initially it came out of having some big ideas I just really wanted to express with as much confidence as I could. And size is a part of that for me.”

Campbell will have at least one of those obstacles knocked off her list, thanks to a new art show hosted by the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria. The BIG Show is dedicated to works 36-by-36-inches and larger.

“[The idea] came from just talking with artists — and how artists have a really hard time finding venues for really large work,” said CACGV executive director Jeani Reynolds. “Many callouts for art shows have restricted sizes. Quite often 36-by-36 is the largest you can go.”

If the response was any indication, many artists’ studios and storerooms are filled with big art. Within two days, Reynolds received the promise of enough art — from enormous landscapes to massive spray-painted abstracts — to fill both of the CACGV’s galleries at the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill.

She accepted artists on a first-come, first-served basis. Seventeen artists are represented in the show, opening tonight, with up to two pieces each.

“It’s almost like they have a reservoir of work waiting in the wings to be shown, because of a lack of venue,” Reynolds said.

Among them, Campbell has included two pieces from her Sappho series, inspired by the Greek poet — one is four feet by eight feet in size and the other is six by four feet.

While the scale won’t rival the largest pieces in public galleries such as the Vancouver Art Gallery and the National Gallery in Ottawa, they are large by smaller, private gallery standards.

Photographic artist Bob Hewitt, who has a 40-by-60-inch piece and a 20-by-60-inch piece in the show, said commercial galleries have incentives to seek smaller pieces of art.

“Generally speaking, spaces are a little bit resistant to having large pieces simply because of the volume [they wish to include],” he said. “You can generate more traffic by having more artists.”

Sculptures are included alongside paintings and other two-dimensional works in the BIG Show.

What: The BIG Show
When: Opening today, 7 to 9 p.m., through Jan. 21
Where: Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria main gallery, Arts Centre at Cedar Hill

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