Thanksgiving art tour makes us thankful we live so close to Gabriola Island
Every Thanksgiving the quiet island of Gabriola, a quick ferry ride from Nanaimo, B.C. hosts its annual studio tour.
It’s easy to see why the weekend is one of the island’s signature can’t-miss annual events. Now in its 25th year, the Thanksgiving Studio Tour has emerged as a fall staple.
Known as the “Isle of the Arts,” Gabriola Island draws crowds of locals and visitors alike to get out and celebrate the many artists working and living in the area.
We started things off early on the Thanksgiving Monday by jumping on the 8 a.m. ferry and making a pit stop at Mad Rona’s Coffee Bar, one of Gabriola’s finest stops for a cup of joe and a breakfast of champions. We grabbed our studio tour map showing us the locations of more than 50 artists living and working on the island, got in our car and off we went.
We moved into the heart of Gabriola Island to check out the Hive Emporium, also known as “Tour Central” during the Thanksgiving Studio Tour. The emporium hosted a preview of several artists that were featured on the tour as well as another great spot to grab a mid-morning caffeine boost. While checking out the gorgeous pieces of art, textiles, and home-made goods, we stopped by artists’ studios that came out to make sure we paid them a visit.
Travelling down Taylor Bay Road, the first stop was at the Lynch Gallery owned by Randi, Tina and Jennifer Lynch (also realtors on the island if you are ready to enjoy island life for a little longer). The gallery featured an eclectic array of jewelry, paintings, mixed media and art made from reclaimed materials. We immediately felt welcomed into the studio and felt as if we were at home, chatting with the artists about their work and diving into delicious treats.
Hitting the road again, we drove up North Road to take a look at the work of David Aris at Stone Raven Studios. David is an incredible acrylic and water colour painter specializing in Vancouver Island landscapes and beautifully detailed paintings. David welcomed us with his friendly manner and told us how he often displays his work in big-city art galleries, but doesn’t often interact with the public. David is humble and passionate about his work and encouraged everyone at his showing that they too can become great artists.
Just down the road from Stone Raven Studios was Black Bird Studios, owned by Paige Coull. The studio consists of gorgeous contemporary ceramics, textile designs and photography. Paige offers classes on Gabriola for anyone wanting to learn the art of creating ceramic dishware in a friendly relaxed environment. Other highlights on the studio tour included a glass-blowing demonstration at D’dance Glass, bright and spunky stepping stones and mosaics at the Laughing Crow and intricate jewellery design at Paprika Jewellery Studio and Gallery
No visit to Gabriola Island is complete without a stop at the Malaspina Galleries, a gorgeous beach walk consisting of a natural sandstone “wave.” Overall, the Thanksgiving studio tour was out of this world. It was relaxed and we felt like we were part of the community from the minute we stepped off the ferry from Nanaimo.
Looking forward to what’s in store for the 26th annual Gabriola Thanksgiving Studio Tour.