Ruth Maas of Vancouver peers back at a portait of an eye painted by Misty Macqueen Smith and displayed during the Night Out art show and reception Friday night at Port McNeill Lions Club.

Area art patrons enjoy McNeill show

Port McNeill Lions host art show featuring local artists, prizes, and wine and cheese.

PORT McNEILL—Lorraine Milligan never made her living as an artist. But the Port Hardy woman has been living it up with paints and canvas since retiring six years ago.

“I used to paint a bit when I was younger,” said Milligan, “but then I got raising a family and working, and just didn’t have the time. So I started again.”

Milligan was the newest participant Friday night as the Port McNeill Lions Club hosted the second annual Night Out, featuring works by members of the North Vancouver Island Artists’ Societey (NVIAS) and other artists. For $15, patrons were treated to wine-tasting, cheese, snacks and desserts and were entered into door prize drawings. They also, of course, got to view a range of styles presented a variety of area artists.

“We do this as a community service,” Lions Club organizer Frank Shelley said. “It’s a chance for the artists to show their work, and it’s good publicity for us as well.”

The Night Out provided NVIAS newcomer Gladys Latty a chance to participate in an art show without having to feel self-conscious about her work. Instead, she brought and displayed works by fellow Port Hardy artist Rita Grier, who was unable to attend herself.

“I’m not showing anything here, because I’m new at it,” Latty admitted.

Not everybody was new, of course. The lineup of well-known, veteran artists whose work was displayed included Gordon Henschel of Nimpkish Heights, Heather Brown of Hyde Creek and Lyn Barton of Port Hardy, president of NVIAS.

“Last year’s turnout was probably about double what we have here, but otherwise it’s been good,” said Barton, just after closing the sale of an original painting. “I don’t know if sales will be as good as last year, but we are selling. So no complaints there.”

Most of the works seemed to have a North Island orientation, from Barton’s paintings of St. Olaf’s Church in Old Quatsino to Brown’s depictions of the historic buildings of Telegraph Cove, to Henschels wide-ranging coverage of remote areas both well-recognized and off the beaten path.

Misty Macqueen Smith took a different tack, presenting a large collection of vividly coloured fantasy scenes, including several versions of a single, large eye in close-up. The eyes do not always get a welcome reception by visitors to her home, however.

“Some people don’t like to come into my house,” Smith said with a laugh. “They get nervous that they’re being watched all the time.”

Milligan clearly had the smallest display — a single, large original acrylic painting and several print copies of a coastal scene. She paints much more, she said, but most of her painting is done while wintering in Arizona, where the scenery is probably as surreal to North Islander’s as Smith’s fantastical images.

“I’m not going to bring my cactus pictures here,” Milligan said. “Who’s going to buy a cactus in Port Hardy?