As his name implies, this Chemainus artist likes to Mix it up.
Philip Mix currently has close to 20 paintings on display at the Chemainus Theatre Gallery and Gift Shop and in the theatre lobby. There are also a few pieces by JD Stevenson, another local artist.
“We are doing our best to support the local artists in these challenging times,” noted Gallery and Gift Shop Manager Lorna Rivard.
The Playbill Dining Room reopened on Sept. 9 and it’s brought more traffic flowing through the building again, even though the theatre area itself remains dark.
Mix, 65, was born in Edmonton and received a Bachelor of Arts in painting from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary in 1980. His paintings have been shown in several renowned Canadian galleries and numerous places abroad such as London, Israel and Cyprus.
Mix operated a conservation studio, Fine Art Restoration, in Victoria from 1986 to 2011. During that time, he was a member of the Pacific Conservation Group and Canadian Conservation Associates.
He has lived in Chemainus since retiring and devotes his energy to family, his studio and what he terms an uncooperative garden.
Mix was previously featured during the theatre’s performance of Silent Sky in 2017 with an array of primarily abstract works.
Those paintings, he said at the time, are intentionally sparse and dispassionate.
“My desire is to produce an artwork that is beautiful for its singleness of purity and purpose: the elegance of simplicity. I choose subjects whose form or function lends itself to the discovery of some intrinsic beauty – a beauty that becomes intriguing once the inherent grace of its form has been recognized and captured.”
The current display features the other sides of Mix. His versatility shows in groupings for portraits, drawings and a yacht series.
“I kind of move around a bit,” Mix conceded. “As I get older, I find myself going back to trails I had taken at one time and never fully pursued. That’s kind of where things have been going for me quite a bit.”
With drawings, there’s a “certain amount of awareness that I need to do to accomplish a completed piece,” he indicated.
Drawings, to him, are as basic as scales for a musician.
Returning to that pursuit, he’s rediscovered the growing fascination of how much subtle decision-making contributes to the process, with the outcome happily reflecting the spontaneity of the drawing and the integrity of the fully-realized composition.
The yacht series, Mix pointed out, is probably his final foray into geometric abstraction.
“My interest has been to simplify design to evoke a sense of tranquility and to describe a familiar scene with only the most essential application,” he explained. “What is ‘left out’ becomes remarkable by its absence, letting the composition breathe with atmosphere.”
Portraits are in a sense going back to his roots.
“I actually started as an artist doing portraits,” Mix noted.
European art generally focuses on people and “I had kind of a European backdrop I was curious about,” he elaborated.
Mix added when the Me Too movement began, it rekindled his interest in creating paintings featuring women of inner strength, beauty and determination.
“The idea of them sitting before a window but looking back into the room rather than staring out it seemed, in my opinion, a way to open dialogue. The person’s trying to communicate something to you.”
Portraits have been a major part of Mix’s focus during 2018-19.
“For me, art has always been a vehicle to communicate something,” he summed up. “I’ve never seen it as a reason to create a commodity. I don’t do it for that purpose.”
Rivard noted Mix’s work will remain on display throughout October.