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Scenes of pandemic gardens up for the summer at this Port Moody arts hub

“It showed us how nature has taken on a new and important role in our lives,” painter Claire Sower said of the Garden Escapes exhibit, with Marney-Rose Edge.

Before the lockdown early last year, Parker Street Studio artists Claire Sower and Marney-Rose Edge talked about having an exhibit at PoMoArts.

But over the course of 2020, the focus of their show shifted as repercussions of the pandemic set in.

Last November, with the help of gallery manager Janice Cotter, the pair set their sights on gardens — places of sanctuary that have been especially helpful during the long periods of self-isolation — and called for images of people’s yards.

And of the 103 photos that were submitted from photographers, garden club members and other artists, the painters chose about a dozen to interpret for their exhibit.

Titled Garden Escapes, the show opens next Wednesday at PoMoArts, featuring 13 picturesque scenes by Sower and 36 smaller pieces by Edge.

Originally from New Zealand, Edge said she enjoyed the community outreach component for the exhibit.

“People sent us pictures of their lush gardens and spoke about how much they bring peace of mind,” the New Westminster resident told the Tri-City News.

Sower, a Vancouver resident and former medical journalist, said gardens were so popular last year that it was nearly impossible to find bedding plants in the Lower Mainland. 

“It showed us how nature has taken on a new and important role in our lives,” she said, adding, “We never thought we would be in this [pandemic] for so long.”

While each painter has a different style — Sower is inspired by the light and landscapes of Monet and Cathlin, and Edge has more realistic floral, animal and landscape shapes — they hope viewers will find their series “rejuvenating, and it makes them feel good and happy,” Sower said.

“Gardens give a sense of calmness. There are things in this world that continue despite COVID. Gardens ground you; they’re permanent even though they are constantly changing.”

“They’re also essential for our mental health,” added Edge, a signature member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour.

“For our show, people can feel like they’re in a garden and be wrapped in nature…. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

Meanwhile, two other pandemic-related exhibits will also open on June 30 at PoMoArts: Through the Window, a photography display by Ryan Walter Wagner; and Whimsy in Wood and Paint, by Ron Love.

They end Aug. 11 at PoMoArts (2425 St. Johns St., Port Moody).

A digital gallery of their work will be online via


The artists will speak about their PoMoArts shows at 7:15 p.m. via Facebook Live:

  • June 30: Claire Sower and Marney-Rose Edge
  • July 15: Ryan Walter Wagner
  • July 22: Ron Love




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