If you happen to spot an animal or object in one of Melanie Ellery’s acrylic paintings and point it out to the Port Moody artist, she’ll likely get a giggle.
“OK,” she says with a laugh. “I’m glad that you see it. It’s just for you.”
Ellery is an abstract artist who creates bold, colourful and expressive works from the city’s Esplanade Art Studios, a space she’s had since March 2020 — the month the world went into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A PoMo resident since 2017, the graphic artist moved from Vancouver to the City of the Arts to get a fresh start “but then everything shut down just as I got the studio.”
“As a creative person, I found I was stuck with my art practice and I had a really hard time. I needed connections but I didn’t know where to go. I had a lot of things to get out of my head.”
For inspiration, Ellery pulled out some past pieces and began to push paint around on canvas and wood panels.
“I didn’t have any idea of where it was going,” she recalled.
On Thursday (Jan. 13), she’ll launch her new series — titled Coming Together — in a début solo show at PoMoArts (formerly the Port Moody Arts Centre).
The 15 or so pieces that will be displayed are “uplifting and will make you feel good,” Ellery told the Tri-City News.
“I’ve never been one to make brooding work. I don’t have a deep social commentary. I just love colour and that’s been the impetus of my work always — trying to get a feeling and magic.”
A founding member of the artist collective 13 feet off the ground, Ellery has had plenty of international inspiration: Before the virus hit globally, she took part in artist residencies in Graniti, Sicily; New Mexico; and San José del Cabo, Mexico.
Meanwhile, also opening on Thursday are Dichotomy by Amy J. Dyck, as well as the touring display from the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival. The participating artists for the latter show are Alan Poon, Alex Lavrov, Althea Adams, Andrew Woods, BeAndra Jacqueline, Beth Wilks, Cassandra Yu, Charlene ‘Chuck’ Heilman, Charlie Sandeman, Jacqueline Primeau, Linda Haftner, Rojina (RJ) Farrokhnejad, Sandra Yuen and Shamsah Mohamed.