If You Paint It, They Will Come to ca Gallery

Image source: Contributed

ca Gallery looks back on a diverse and dynamic year of connection through the canvas and anticipates greater connections to come, as Georgia Beard discovers.

Art should never be out of reach. Amid our daily routines and distractions, we need to break the barrage with a reflection of our innermost selves and a reminder that we’re not isolated in our experiences.

A saturated, stirring arts scene is made possible by passionate locals in search of connection.

Since 1998, ca Gallery (originally Cool Art) has stood as a cultural mainstay, emerging from a patchwork of artists in Coolum’s sleepy seaside village.

After founder Joe McFeeters and partner Erin stitched them all together, these lifelong friends have joined an ever-growing collection of locally and nationally acclaimed painters.

Their contemporary works regularly unfold across the ca Gallery walls for spontaneous wanderers-in to adventurous art collectors.

Paired with a 30-year mastery of picture framing for art conservation and preservation, this immersion in artistry is one we can seek out or take home. Joe and Erin’s art curations have touched the lives and living spaces of many.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of the local and regional community for both the gallery and picture framing service,” Erin said.

“Having just celebrated our 25-year business anniversary this year, we are aware of how fortunate we are to continue to operate and offer these services that we are passionate about.

“We’ve had a wonderful year of exhibitions, starting with a vibrant body of work by Judith Laws, followed by our 25-year anniversary group exhibition showcasing more than 34 artists from the gallery’s journey.

“This was followed with an ambitious and significant exhibition of the works of the late John Thomas Rigby and Joy Roggenkamp, acclaimed Queensland artists, courtesy of their families.”

Recently, Joe and Erin celebrated a new body of work by Sunshine Coast artist Blair McNamara before concluding their impressive year with esteemed portrait artist Jan Williamson, whom they’d known before establishing ca Gallery.

Her assortment of national accolades offers merely a glimpse at 50 years of work. A five-time finalist in the Archibald Prize, Jan won the Packing Room Prize for two consecutive years and the People’s Choice Award.

She has also appeared as a finalist in the Portia Geach Memorial Award, Moran Portrait Prize, Salon des Refuses and the Art Gallery of NSW’s Sporting Portrait Prize.

On the local stage, her work appeared in ca Gallery’s group show, 25, before returning for A Moment in Time, offering all the vision and depth of her prestigious state exhibitions from ca Gallery’s accessible space in Coolum.

Her oil paintings grasp the intimate emotions and experiences in the humanity of her subject matter, from renowned figures like Tom Carroll, Rachel Ward, Jenny Morris and David Williamson to Indigenous camp members in Urupunjta/Utopia.

“Joe and Erin pushed me, because I said, ‘I’ll have an exhibition when I’m eighty’, and they said, ‘No, you can’t wait! You’ve got to have it now!’” Jan laughs.

“I had so many paintings so I thought, what have I got to lose?”

Exploring over 60 portraits, visitors bore witness to the innocence of children at play and the wisdom of world-weary elders, meeting the gaze of a life lived in brushstrokes to form an inexplicable connection – an experience Joe and Erin seek in every art showcase.

“We would love to see the works of the artists represented here at the gallery find new homes and people to fall in love with them,” Erin said. “I think that’s the beauty of art. Often we don’t have the words to explain the connection made with a painting, in the same way you might have a favourite book or song.

“Often words are insufficient to describe something so intangible and emotional. Perhaps it is best likened to the basic human need to feel seen and heard – to connect with someone or something outside of ourselves.”

As Joe and Erin welcome artists and art enthusiasts into another luminous year, we can make profound contact with the stories and soul of our community – and we don’t have to go far to find them!

In 2024, ca Gallery looks forward to sharing a comprehensive exhibition of works by Rex Backhaus-Smith and welcoming new artists. Stay updated at www.coolartgallery.com.au

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