‘The Suitcase Project’, an emotional display of photographs about the personal terrors of being uprooted from home and culture, is on display at the Arbutus Gallery until July 26. Don’t miss it. (Kayla Isomura photo)

LEXI BAINAS COLUMN: Visions art, the relaxed ambience of the Valley, and vicious prejudice made manifest make a strange trio this week

We’re lucky to live in Cowichan and should celebrate that every day

Great friend, Terry Harrison of the Visions Artists group, has passed along the following message:

“On the mezzanine floor of the Maritime Centre in Cowichan Bay a group of artists, all members of the Visions Art Studio Tour Society, are presenting a three-week show and sale from July 26 to Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. At least two of the exhibiting artists will be on hand to meet you and introduce you to their work and that of fellow artists. In the show are watercolour pencil artist Donna Birtwistle, jewelry designers Karen Bottcher, Rosemary Danaher and Susan Whyte, painter Bev Robertson, potter Lyndsay Hunley, collage artist Wilma Millette and glass/tile/clothing painter Terry Harrison. Read about them at visionsarttour.ca.”

So, when you’re visiting Cowichan Bay, take an extra side trip to the Maritime Centre and check out this talented group.

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On Aug. 1, the Valley will be bidding farewell to Michele Fry, who has been doing a wonderful job as Arts and Culture Division, marketing specialist at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. She’s heading off to pastures new in Nanaimo and I’m sure all the folks who’ve worked with her will join me in wishing her: Happy Trails!

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Duncan’s Carlow Rush, seen on NBC’s World of Dance, is holding a special workshop for dancers aged nine and older, on Monday, July 22 starting at 6 p.m. at Carlson’s Dance Studio, at 3272 Sherman Rd. Price is $25. Let them know at Carlson’s Daily on Facebook if you are interested.

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They may not qualify as entertainers per se, but the Downtown Duncan merchants who were part of the sidewalk sales last weekend really added to the buzz and ambience of the business core. Even fairly late in the evening Friday there were lots of people strolling the city’s streets and enjoying a pleasant summer evening in Duncan’s lovely downtown area.

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John Baty, of the Cobble Hill Events Society, is back to tell us about his group’s music events.

“The most significant of all and anchor event of our activities has been the burgeoning Music in the Park (MITP) series of summer concerts that happen every Thursday night from 6:30 to 8 in the subsequently renovated and beautiful park (the Commons) in the centre of Cobble Hill Village. And across the way, on the Community Hall grounds, a market operates in parallel for the fans to enjoy as well.

“Last year, 4,000 fans benefitted, and this season, even without the sun appearing yet, MITP itself has already had two of its 10 Thursday night concerts, the most recent with a crowd approaching 700. And we expect these kind of numbers to continue. With a diversified funding base now anchoring the event, MITP continues to offer proven groups off the professional circuit, most with island connections, and the event is still free though donations are welcome and growing. Fans, both young and old bring their picnic blankets, the children play and the artists enjoy the unique and open experience.”

If you find yourself heading towards Cobble Hill of a Thursday evening, why not swing by the park and enjoy?

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The Suitcase Project touring from the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, in Burnaby, asks the question: “If you were going to lose everything — your home, your business, memories and personal possessions — what would you take outside of things for survival?”

Kayla Isomura, photographer and fourth-generation Japanese Canadian, has curated this exhibition of pictures, on display at the CVAC Arbutus Gallery in the Cowichan Community Centre until July 26.

Isomura’s poignant multi-media exhibit explores the generational impact of cultural dispossession and loss of the heart’s home. Subjects range from infants to 51-year-olds and were photographed in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Western Washington. It’s been widely praised.

Stemming from the history of Japanese Canadians and Americans during the Second World War, this multimedia exhibit highlights why this history is relevant more than 75 years later as on-going dispossession and discrimination of minority groups and people of colour continues today.

During the Second World War, thriving and demonstrably loyal Japanese-Canadian communities on the West Coast were packed up in 24 to 48 hours, ripped from successfully integrated lives, beautiful homes and gardens, businesses, small-hold farms and commercial fishing fleets, and crammed into cattle pens at the PNE before being shipped to ghost towns in the B.C. Interior and eastern Canada.

In Duncan, the land between our present-day Centennial Park and the train tracks, was rich with immaculate Japanese market gardens. Japanese-Canadian loggers and engineers worked alongside Sikh and Chinese Canadian loggers and engineers at the Mayo Company’s operations in Paldi and Hill 60. These model Canadian citizens were refused any recompense for their properties, possessions and commercial enterprises, and there is no record of what became of their property. Children who played so happily together in the woods after school the evening of April 20, 1942, arrived at school the next morning to find their best friends literally disappeared.

On Friday, July 26, from 10 a.m. to noon, CVAC Mesachie Room, CVAC Arbutus Gallery: a presentation by Michael Abe and the UVic Landscapes of Injustice project in collaboration with the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives and the Cowichan Public Art Gallery Society will be part of this event. https://cvpublicartgallery.ca/

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