Chilliwack artist showcases colourful animals in first solo show 

Jennifer Sparacino celebrates exhibit opening at Adele Campbell Gallery on March 23

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - One of Jennifer Sparacino's paintings.
  • Photo submitted
  • One of Jennifer Sparacino's paintings.

Jennifer Sparacino’s first love is colour.

“Any time I can use colour and pattern and texture—subject feels secondary to me almost,” the Chilliwack-based painter says.

While her paintings employ bright, eye-catching hues, Sparacino has made a name for herself by adding that colour to images of wildlife—from bears and wolves to buffalo and moose.

“I’ve always loved animals in general,” she says. “I thought putting them on canvas and doing what I want with colour was a lot of fun. It was addictive.”

After graduating from Capilano University with a diploma in design and illustration—where she largely worked in oil and watercolour painting, tackling still life and working with live models—Sparacino quickly wound up with her work in several Canadian galleries.

“I went from no galleries to six or seven in my first year, which was really intense,” she says. “I was trying to figure out how I was going to paint everything for everybody. I was still somewhat green—then I got pregnant with my first son in 2013 and life slowed down.”

Now, with a second kid in the mix, she has decided to focus on one gallery in B.C.—the Adele Campbell Gallery in Whistler, the first to represent her. Six years after joining its roster of artists—who she’s exhibited with in several group shows—she’s now going to have her work featured in her first-ever solo show called Wild Life: Reflections on being human through the teachings of animals.

“I’m really excited about it,” she says. “Liz (Harris, owner of the gallery) and I have gotten along brilliantly since day one … It’s always a really great vibe up there. Just being in Whistler is amazing.”

Not surprisingly, Sparacino’s art has found a natural client base in the resort. Her bears are particularly popular with locals and visitors alike. “Bears have always been a mainstay for me. That’s where I gained the most recognition—the way I approach bear paintings, especially in Whistler. There are bears everywhere,” she says.

The upcoming show—which will have an artist reception on Saturday, March 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.—will feature work that “holds true to my initial vision when I started with Adele Campbell,” she adds.

That means, yes, bears, but also moose, bison, and bunnies too.

“She has been with the gallery since 2013 and has really grown with us as she becomes ever more popular,” the gallery says in an email. “Her current body of work has focused largely on animals as subject matter, characterized by Fauvist-inspired colours and boldly applied paint with strong graphic patterns and textures.”

Thanks to having gallery representation in Whistler, Sparacino’s paintings have found homes all around the world.

“My work has travelled more than I have,” she says.

Curiously, at one point, it seemed visitors from Texas in particular were snapping them up. “I was like, ‘What is up with those Texans?’” she says. “It’s hard to know, but all kinds of people of different ages buy my work—younger people in their 20s who are just starting to collect, or those into retirement who are decorating their second home somewhere.”

While her animal subjects have served her well, looking ahead, Sparacino says she’s keen to experiment as well. “I’m balancing experimental work on the side along with my current body of work,” she says. “I feel I’m on two feet now and it’s exciting to have this inaugural solo show.”

Catch the opening part of Wild Life at the Adele Campbell Gallery on Saturday, March 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.

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