Hillie Bakker does real art… affordably 

Pemberton-based artist offers half off all her paintings for gallery opening


WHO: Hillie Bakker Gallery official opening

WHERE: Hillie Bakker Gallery (2027 High 99 North, Pemberton)

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 1, 3 to 7 p.m.


News flash: art is expensive. Don't believe it? Take a look around! Only the wealthy can afford to beautify their homes with original artwork while the rest of us are relegated to tacking magazine pages to our walls.


So thank the gods because Hillie Bakker, owner of Mount Currie's newest art gallery, sells her work affordably Very few of her pieces exceed $400 and for one day only, this weekend, everything is half off.

"I don't see a reason to go more expensive," Bakker says. "It doesn't take me long to do them. I find some of these paintings (at galleries) that are sold for thousands of dollars. It's outrageous. I don't want to go there."

Bakker's gallery, on the other hand, is the sort of place Christmas should be held. Located at the mouth of Mount Currie, it's as inviting as a grandma's living room. Her cat, Jack (named after Jackson Pollock), lays lazily on a coffee table, which has been crafted by her partner, Darrell Hibbard, along with all the other furniture. Enormous portraits of various flowers dominate the front half of the room while nude portraits of both men and women hang in the back. About 80 other paints hang on a rack, tucked in the corner, waiting to be framed.

Where so many artists are concerned with vast landscapes, she zeroes in on one small aspect of that landscape - namely flowers, mushrooms - and paints in giant, vivid detail.

"I went to the galleries in Whistler and there were very few that I was excited about," she says. "I've been told, 'Oh these are nice mountains,' but unless I can do something really different with them, y'know, I'll take a piece. I'm not too interested."

Each of her subjects is bold and immediate. Each subject is taken from a black and white photograph and she adds her own flare and colour, reinterpreting nature as she sees fits.

"It's all in the seeing. That's what art is all about," she says. "People are not just looking at that flower. They see the flower and think, 'Oh, that's a nice flower' and that's it. But to really look at the flower, to see everything on it, all the colours, how they change, all the pieces, that's what I want to show."

Born in Holland, she immigrated to Canada when she was 20. A self-taught artist, she worked in fibre arts for 25 years before one day deciding she'd had enough of it and started painting. She's exhibited her work in galleries across Ontario and in New York City. She ran her own gallery in Dundas, Ont. before she and Hibbard decided to flee the east in favour of a slower pace of life.

They found Pemberton and for the last three months they've been working on opening the gallery. It's been open for a month and besides Bakker's work, Hibbard's one-of-a-kind furniture is for sale, along with selected First Nations carvings from Mount Currie artists.

The official opening happens this Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. Brother Twang will be playing.

So take down those old Maxim pin-ups and decorate your walls with some real art.



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