The artist, the scientist, and the bears 

Gambier Island painter Gloria Masse will be the first person to tell you she isn’t much of a scientist.

Page 2 of 3

With Allen’s endorsement and guidance Masse has so far produced a series of five acrylic 30-inch square paintings of Whistler bears, which are to be showcased at Art Junction. As planned, 10 per cent of sales of the existing works and those to come will be donated to bear research in the Whistler area.

Naturally, Allen is appreciative of the project’s fundraising potential. But his true appreciation of Masse’s work has been on a deeper level – one that has caught the researcher slightly off guard.

"They’re beautiful," said Allen. "The bears come alive in a different way. I knew she did good work. I wasn’t surprised by that, I was surprised that somebody could add so much life.

"When I looked at them, the very first thing I noticed was the accuracy of the identity of the bear. Facial images of bears – that’s something I’ve been a real critic on. A lot of facial images I’ve seen are really bad. They try to add too much human emotion to the bear: the ears are off, the skull’s not right, the snout’s too narrow and it looks like a dog.

"The first thing I saw was the accuracy. She got the identity right and the characteristics of the bear. And the next thing was the life."

For Masse, the collection is an extension of her established philosophy on painting the natural world.

"I’m always trying to get at the secret soul of the animal. That might sound corny," she said, "but it’s what’s in the wolf’s eyes and what’s in the bear’s eyes, their wildness, the other-ness of them, their mysteries. I’m always hoping that through my painting what I’m feeling about them or what I’m trying to find in them will come out."

Allen says the collection has opened his eyes to how the arts can be another effective way to educate people on the Whistler bears and forge those crucial feelings of connection that promote conservation initiatives.

At his request Masse will be featuring Slim, a bear that recently died in a highway accident, in a future work.

And since the scientist has no intention of leaving his life’s work, nor the artist hers, this looks to be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Gloria Masse’s Whistler Bears collection will be unveiled at Art Junction@Function’s reopening reception this Saturday, July 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. Both Masse and Allen are expected to be in attendance.

Readers also liked…

Latest in Arts

More by Shelley Arnusch

© 1994-2020 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation