Jane Everett's work on the Port Mann bridge takes the ordinary to extraordinary. While selling off paintings she's trying to keep a vellum and linen collection together for a gallery show.

Kelowna’s Jane Everett pictures the Port Mann Bridge

One of Kelowna's top artists turned her attention on Vancouver's Port Mann Bridge this year, spending hours detailing its construction.

  • Mar. 2, 2012 8:00 a.m.

Jane Everett knows how to bridge gaps.

After graduating from Queen’s University in Fine Arts she’s carved a neat niche for herself on the Canadian art scene, building from one project to the next, one idea to another with an eye for seeing the extraordinary in the mundane.

From racehorses to mice, little birds to human figures, Everett never seems to run out of ideas, taking inspiration from the Italian canals to see interest in the Bennett Bridge reflection and then the Port Mann construction cranes on the Fraser River.

Tucked away in her Lower Mission home, a tour of this unusual career hangs on the walls and in stacks of canvasses in second-floor studio, as she unfurls impressions of the Port Mann Bridge construction zone in mediums far removed from the cold edge of its marinas and industry and steel scaffolding.

Today’s paper of choice is vellum, the same translucent sheath that adds import to wedding invitations and intrigue to photo albums. She’s carefully layering on colours to create a delicate sky beneath concrete edges of bridge towers, new monolithic obelisks erected sidesaddle the current bridge.

Jane Everett“What I like is to have a bit of colour underneath them. If I put them on white, you don’t quite get the whites jumping like you do on a darker background,” she says as she picks the drawing up and posts it against a white wall.

Working in the mid-tones is a bit of a tradition in Everett’s world. She did the new Bennett Bridge on a raw linen—beige—layering on charcoal and a Gesso fixative that picked up the dark dust, running down the surface to dribble on the lake’s reflective surface. Lining the studio walls, there’s an interesting series of mice on linen as well with corresponding Fimo figurines that she has yet to show.

“I just think the colour is so dishy,” she explains. “You can add lights and darks and you start with that. The linen is this warm thing where it can be the mouse’s fur; it can be the concrete on the bridge; it can be the horse’s flesh.”

What it can’t be is the inspiration.

Everett says she spends around a year on each muse, stopping when she realizes she’s working from rote and starting on the next thing to catch her eye.

“I think for most artists what’s on the easel is what’s most interesting to them at that moment,” she says as she looks at a crane she’s carving out with charcoal and lead.

Port Mann BridgeWhile she doesn’t have a venue yet, she can picture how the Port Mann show will come together, likely with several linen panels hung slightly off kilter down the middle of the room as though one’s walking across the bridge, surrounded by translucent vellum images.

Granville Fine Art, in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood, will do a show in April with several paintings of what’s to come, though Everett says she’s committed to keeping the linen and vellum body of work together for a public gallery show.

And she’s had that light bulb moment on the next project.

One of the more catchy vellum bridge-scapes features a lamp post that seems to jump out of the stack of steel girders and cold waterways with the intensity only an object one has become fixated on deserves.

“I’m thinking about doing something with lampposts and hanging lights next,” she admits, noting she could branch into spotlights and the more decorative boardwalk style.

Everett’s husband teaches American politics at UBCO and her children both work in creative fields—her daughter as a journalist, her son as a screenwriter—so there’s plenty of fodder for inspiration at home, work and abroad (when on sabbatical).

Just where this Kelowna artist will take us next isn’t set in stone, but through all that opaque vellum there’s a grey area of ideas one can only imagine will be very illuminating.

Her show at the Granville Fine Art starts begins in April; she periodically teaches workshops, just completing one for the Kelowna Art Gallery in February.

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