Two old friends, one new exhibition 

Painters Mike Svob and Andrew Wylie open at the Adele Campbell Gallery

click to enlarge BY MIKE SVOB - Mid-Summer Memories will be on show at the Adele Campbell Gallery on Saturday, March 14.
  • By Mike Svob
  • Mid-Summer Memories will be on show at the Adele Campbell Gallery on Saturday, March 14.

Mike Svob puts the phone on speaker so he can continue painting in his White Rock studio.

The piece he is completing is an autumn scene from the region around Boston, where is daughter lives.

"I am there a fair bit," he says. "It's quite something with the trees and country."

The scene is one of 15 to 20 paintings created for a new show of his work at the Adele Campbell Gallery in Whistler alongside that of friend and frequent collaborator Alan Wylie.

The show opens on Saturday, March 14.

Svob's connection with the gallery and his friendship with Wylie are long term — Svob has been showing at Adele Campbell for 20 years, his friendship with Wylie has lasted 30 years. It's his first show in Whistler in several years.

The show is called The Works. Preparing for a show such as this leads to more frenetic energy used in painting.

"We called it that because it covers the whole of our careers and interests," Svob laughs.

He recognizes that there is a mysterious connection and bond that is created with those who like his work.

"Over time you develop a sense of what you like and what you don't like when you work, it becomes your sense of style. And I always find it amazing, but there are always going to be people who identify with what you do. I don't know why but thank goodness," he says.

Wylie and Svob will be showing individual paintings, but they have previously carried out projects together as large as a mural.

These included a mural series for Chances Casinos in Langley (69-metres long) and Abbotsford (122 metres). The pair had painted them the traditional ways in Seattle and other locations, but for the casinos they painted a slightly smaller version, digitized it and printed it on a special vinyl "and it went up painlessly like wallpaper."

Svob says their styles are completely different.

"I am more impressionistic, I use more colour. Alan is more realistic. What tends to happen when we work together is that each of us allows the other to work on something that we feel the most strongly about. I think it works really well, for the most part," Svob says.

They also frequently travel together to remote locations in Canada and around the world on painting expeditions.

Travel is the biggest influence on subject matter for Svob's work and will be very much on show at Adele Campbell.

"I am constantly painting, wherever I go. I tend to concentrate on a theme or subject until I exhaust it," he says.

"I have work right now that I did while in Europe, from earlier this winter there is a lot of snow paintings from the B.C. Interior and I have worked on plenty of West Coast Stuff. Living in White Rock, the ocean and beaches play their part, too."

Svob has been a professional artist since the early 1980s and was the president of the Federation of Canadian Artists in the early 1990s.

Both Svob and Wylie are signature members of the federation now.

Teaching plays a big part of Svob's career, including planned workshops in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick this summer, but before that is a planned plein-air teaching expedition to Greece in May and early June.

Catching Wylie at his home in Fort Langley, he laughs when asked about the difference between his style and Svob's.

"We're completely different. It's amazing that we've been painting murals together quite a lot over the last few years," Wylie says.

"Mike uses all that dioxygene purple and he has to train me to use that. He works with big brushes and I work with a tiny little brush."

But sometimes the response to their collaborations makes them laugh, Wylie adds.

We're at odds all the time. Lots of people will point at a section and say, 'We can see that Mike did that bit,' and, no, he didn't. I did. I've got to loosen my painting up and use that colour and he's got to tighten his work up a bit. It seems to work quite well for us."

Wylie has 18 paintings in the show. A real mixed bag, he says.

"I've got oils, watercolours and acrylics. And the subjects are also a real mixed bag. I've got landscapes, some of my Glasgow paintings, a lot of figurative stuff. There's everything from snowy pieces, to New York to Mexico," Wylie says.

"I hate painting the same stuff over and over so I like to jump all over the place."



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