a Major undertaking

Langley Artist Bernie Major’s 42-piece solo show runs to Jan. 11 to Feb. 28 at Township Civic Building

Where’s My Purse? (oil paint)is among more than 40 pieces Bernie Major will hang for his solo exhibit Home and Abroad, at the Township Civic Building Jan. 11 to Feb. 28.

Langley painter Bernard Major is inviting audiences on a journey around the world — and one the perks of his tour is that it can be done on a post-Christmas budget, without leaving Langley.

Major’s upcoming exhibit, titled Home and Abroad — presented by the Langley Arts Council — will hang inside Township of Langley Civic Building from Jan. 11 to Feb. 28.

Major, a relatively new member of the LAC, admitted he was a little taken aback by the sheer amount of wall space he would be required to cover over two floors inside Township Hall, but a search through his studio turned up 42 paintings which he will hang on both the second and fourth floors of the building.

The vast majority are works done in oil and all but one were completed before he was awarded the show.

“It’s a lot of work, but I’m enjoying it,” said the artist who works out of a converted barn on his South Langley property.

He regularly has several other local painters (known collectively as the Artists of Bernie’s Barn) over to work in the studio, but for this show, he is going solo — for just the fourth time in his career.

Although the show is titled Home and Abroad, there is a heavy emphasis on the latter, he explained, with the vast majority of the paintings depicting his travels to Egypt, Venice, the Caribbean and England.

“Those four themes make up the bulk of the work. There’s also a large abstract in there, which I don’t do often,” he said.

The two new paintings — one of a Merritt, B.C. ranch scene and a Christmasy watercolour of his studio/barn — comprise the “home” portion of the exhibit.

One of his Caribbean pieces, titled Where is My Purse? has been sold to a woman from Illinois who saw her own grandmother in Major’s subject, but it will be a part of the exhibit, nonetheless.

“She agreed to leave it here until after the show, which was nice of her because I’d already done the brochure (which features the painting),” Major laughed.

The artist recently returned from a trip to China, where he was struck by the dichotomy of the country — a place where past and future co-exist in rather jarring fashion.

The large cities, like Shanghai, are incredibly modern and progressive, he said, while in the countryside farmers are still using oxen to pull plows.

Major plans to recreate scenes from his latest travels, but for that project he will step away from his traditional oils.

“I just got the urge to do a series of watercolours and see how it works out,” he said.

“With watercolours you can get a really strong contrast, but at the same time, it’s delicate. The light bounces through the paper and comes back at you.”

Those pieces won’t be done in time for the Township Hall exhibit, but Major is encouraging people to come out and view the works that will be on display for nearly seven weeks. The venue is surprisingly good, considering its not technically a gallery, he noted.

“I don’t know who thought of it, but it’s a really fantastic place for an art show. It’s easy to hang paintings and get them positioned nicely. And the lighting’s not bad either.

Still, the fact his show is being held in the civic facility underscores the need for a dedicated public display space, said Major.

It’s good the space exists, he said, “because otherwise where do you go to see original art? This (LAC initiative) might be something that leads to an exhibit space.”

The Township of Langley Municipal Building is located at 20338 65 Ave.

An opening reception will be held on Friday, Jan. 11 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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