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Exhibitions: Past

Janelas Da Alma Sonhos De Portugal

Windows to the Soul Dreams of Portugal

Works by Joao De Brito & Maria Miranda Lawrence

May 29 – June 27, 2008

Janelas Da Alma Janelas Da Alma Janelas Da Alma Janelas Da Alma Janelas Da Alma

The gallery closes its 2007-08 season with an exhibition of paintings by Joao De Brito and Maria Miranda Lawrence. Originally from Sao Miguel in the Azores, De Brito now lives in California while Lawrence resides in British Columbia. Their works reflect their Azorean roots, their embrace of homeland.

Joao De Brito emigrated as a young man to New England with his family and from there moved to California, attracted to the splendor of its coast. He studied art in the States and Europe, and today travels extensively to paint en plein air. He has collaborated with internationally known artists, but most of all he welcomes the opportunity to interact with diverse people and cultures, to partake in what he calls "the discovery of the everyday." In 2005, De Brito traveled from city to city to paint with Maori artists in New Zealand, and he became a weeklong guest of the Portuguese government who engaged De Brito to paint images of the country for their cultural art publication. De Brito has exhibited extensively solo and in group shows in the U.S. and elsewhere and his work resides in private collections and museums in North America and Europe.

Maria Miranda Lawrence calls Sao Miguel "the island of my dreams" enchanted by its natural beauty and her childhood memories. At an early age she moved with her family to British Columbia, Canada and has lived there ever since. She has shown her works in numerous group and solo exhibitions both in B.C. and around the world. Her works reflect her love and longing for her homeland. On May 6, 2006 she was awarded the Portuguese-Canadian COPA award for outstanding achievement in the Arts and Culture. Lawrence is a signature member of the Canadian Portrait Artists, an executive member of the Island Illustrators Society, a Luso-Artist, an active member of the Canadian Federation of Artists, and is a founding member of the Vancouver Island Arts & Cultural Accord.

Kathleen Hancock

The Artists

Maria Miranda Lawrence

The island of my dreams — Sao Miguel is in the Azores — where I was born. I am enchanted by its natural beauty and memories remain in my heart. My roots run deep here, from the time the Portuguese arrived and settled there in the mid 1400's.

At three years of age, my mother and I joined my father who was working in the northwest town of Kitimat, BC in Canada. We returned to visit ten years later. Life in the village was basic and natural. My relatives grew crops on their land and lived by the sea. There were no luxuries of modern times — electricity, indoor plumbing, everything was done manually — the washing of clothes, carrying water, baking bread, preparing meals for their large families. Subsequent visits were scarce as we lived so far away by the Pacific Ocean. There is the saying — absence makes the heart grow fonder, and with the Portuguese it is the Saudades we feel — an intense heartfelt yearning for the past and people we long to be with.

My life unfolded as an artist. At eighteen, I began a three year study of Fine Arts at KSA in Nelson, BC. I married a Canadian artist, who supported my dream of continuing to work in the arts. Years went by, we brought our daughters in their teens to Europe to experience their roots, and then once again my husband and I returned in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary, in the fall of 2004. By then the Azores were up to date with most of the modern conveniences. Fortunately, the islands retained much of the old world charm. I felt especially emotional believing it would be my last visit. It was then I photographed two young girls at a window and knew instantly it was an image I wanted to paint.

When I returned home I worked on a large painting of my daughter and a friend in folkloric dance costumes, I entitled it Saudades de Portugal which speaks of my love for the country. Not long afterwards I began receiving invitations to show outside Vancouver Island where I live, the first a solo showing in Vancouver for the month of May, followed by an even larger solo show of my work in Kitimat for the summer months of July and August. I was flown to the Azores the day after the opening for the next ultimate experience, an invitation to join several other professionals from around the world for a cultural exchange in Sao Miguel.

My contribution to the Azores government was the painting I created there of the two girls in the window, vez um barco na linha dos teus olhos which is a line from a poem written by Jose Francisco Costa, who complimented my painting by saying I had captured the typical Azorean eyes as they look out to the sea in the brightness of the day. It will be soon published in a book along with the other contributors of art, poetry and music.

On May 6, 2006 I was awarded the Portuguese-Canadian COPA award for outstanding achievement in the Arts and Culture, and placed in the Forca.ca Hall of Fame. Not only had I achieved recognition by my place of origin, but also by the country of my residence. That July, there was yet another trip to Sao Miguel, this time to be with my mother and sisters (who had not been there since they were children).

In July of 2007, I accompanied my daughter to the island of Terceira. She was invited for her first sponsored trip to perform and collaborate with seven other dancers from around the world. I feel I have made this special connection with the Azores that welcomes me back with open arms. With all these recent visits I have been compelled to paint scenes of my experiences there, I have included most of these images in this exhibition. My dream has become a tangible reality.

Joao De Brito

Born in Sao Miguel, Azores, De Brito grew up in an artistic milieu, surrounded by the natural beauty of the islands which he internalized and later incorporated in his artisticvision. He immigrated as a young man to New England with his family, and from theremoved to California, attracted to the splendor of its coast. He studied art in the Statesand Europe, collaborating with the impressionists William B. Hannum and Mark Gellerand the traditionalist master David A. Leffel, among others. His influences include theFrench fauves, the early Californian impressionists, especially the members of theSociety of Six, Selden Gile and August Gay, as well as Armin Hansen, Nathan Oliveiraand E. Charlton Fortune. He also cites the Azorean artist Domingos Rebelo and the Portuguese painters Vieira da Silva and Paula Rego as inspirations.

De Brito travels extensively to paint en plein air, and has collaborated withinternationally known artists and exhibited his work all over the world. Above all hewelcomes the opportunity to interact with diverse people and cultures, to partake in whathe calls "the discovery of the every day." Discovery he then translates into the canvas inhis unparalleled way. De Brito's recent solo exhibition Paths of Life allowed the viewer aprivileged glimpse into the imagination and vision of a singular artist whose paintings anart reviewer has called "cerebral and sanguine," and which have earned him a steady following and the admiration of artists and critics alike.

Embracing his Portuguese American identity, De Brito has often chosen his homeland as his subject, depicting the Azores islands in colors and emotions that, in the words of agallery owner, "reach out to the viewer's soul." He has just completed a painting tour to Tuscany and southern Portugal and his newest work on the subject of volcano Capelinhos is currently on view in Oakland and will travel as part of the group art exhibition, "Ashes to Life," with fellow Portuguese–American artists Nathan Oliveira,Mel Ramos and John Mattos. Joao De Brito has exhibited extensively solo and in groups hows in the U.S. and elsewhere and his work resides in private collections and museumsin North America and Europe.