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3 Duncan artists up for big national prizes

Dennis B. Del Torre, Dorian Melton and Christi York are among the talented selectees.
Dennis Del Torree is amazed to be chosen as a finalist. (Submitted)

Three Duncan artists have been named as finalists for the Salt Spring National Art Prize (SSNAP).

Dennis B. Del Torre, Dorian Melton and Christi York are among the talented selectees.

They are among the 52 artists from across Canada to have their work eligible to win one of nine awards, six selected by jurors and three selected by public vote.

Del Torre, an artist and retired landscaper with more than 30 years of design experience, says he was thrilled to be named a finalist.

“I was stunned when I learned I’d been selected as I didn’t expect to be named,” he said. His artwork titled Totem is an assemblage of found objects such as wood, stones and feathers.

He adds, “I usually work on pieces and come back to them over time but this took me three weeks to begin and complete on a trip to Savary Island last year. My hope is that viewers see something which reflects their history, their loves and even their loss, something containing relevance to their experience of life.”

Melton was also excited to have his work in the showcase, saying, “My goal this year was to get as many eyes on my latest work as possible, so it was amazing to find success.”

Melton’s work is called This is Stone (8302).

He notes, “My image is a manipulated digital image capture of the unusual textures and colours of one particular sedimentary rock formation found on Mount Tzouhalem in the Cowichan Valley that may be as old as 200 million years.”

He adds, “Salt Spring is one of my favourite places, so how thrilling to be in a show with artists from across Canada.”

York is a Duncan resident, who has been working as a full-time artist for several years. She says being part of SSNAP is an absolute delight.

“It’s great to see a national art prize based on the West Coast that provides a snapshot of what’s happening across Canada.” Her work titled Petiole Reach (Ochre Spine) was created with found harvested materials.

“I love working with natural materials that I can pick off the forest floor that’s part of the cycle of life. If you don’t pick it up it decays and returns to the forest, but if you harvest the material and dry it into a certain shape you have an opportunity to elevate the material.”

Del Torre and Melton are members of the Cowichan Valley Arts Council and are focussed on raising funds for a professional art gallery that would entertain artists from all over the world. They’re planning a fundraising launch in the fall.

All three artists are eager to be part of the SSNAP Finalists’ Exhibition, open to the public from Sept. 21 to Oct. 21. SSNAP winners will be announced at a Gala Awards night on Oct. 21.

The prize provides both emerging and established artists an amazing opportunity to be part of the same Canadian artistic dialogue. With more than 1,200 artists having submitting original, two and three-dimensional works from coast to coast, the judges can celebrate Canada as they make their choices.

Nine awards are available, as follows:

• Salt Spring Prize - The Joan McConnell Award plus residency for outstanding work - ($15,000 and a $5,000 Salt Spring Island artist residency) - $20,000

• Jurors’ choice awards - three awards of $3,000 selected by each juror - $9,000

• People’s Choice - Rosemaria Behncke Awards - three awards determined by a vote of visitors to the exhibition - 1st prize - $3,000, 2nd prize - $2,000, 3rd prize - $1,000 - $6,000

• Salt Spring Artists Award - for outstanding work by a Salt Spring Artist - $2,000

• Salt Spring Island Painters Guild Award - for outstanding two dimensional painted artwork - $1,000

The Salt Spring National Art Prize (SSNAP) is one of the largest visual arts competitions in the country.

The intent of SSNAP is to encourage artists whose practice demonstrates originality, quality, integrity and creativity, resulting in significant work with visual impact and depth of meaning.

In this third year, SSNAP offers $38,000 in awards, as chosen by an independent jury from across Canada. This exciting endeavour is an initiative of the Salt Spring Arts Council, which represents the arts for Salt Spring Island, one of Canada’s premier arts communities.

For more information about SSNAP, please visit:


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