Sasha Gallery: An Island Gallery With More Than A View
by Sharon Harrison
It is often said, every one of us has a story to tell. For every soul arriving on the shores of Prince Edward County to build a new life, the sentiment couldn’t be more true. Most of us have a story to share and Vera Soltykewych is no different. Vera’s story touches on loss and tragedy, but it also embraces perseverance and strength. With a French mother and a Ukrainian father, Vera grew up within a creative family unit, and while music dominated her early environment, she eventually found herself picking up a paintbrush.
Having painted since the age of 14, Vera describes her acrylic paintings as “large-scale, fashion illustrative: chic with an edge”. Reflecting the female form, she “explores the individual identity of something or someone”, personalizing her representations to produce uncomplicated yet thought-provoking images. There is simplicity to many of her stylish canvases, nostalgia too, where each image offers the viewer the opportunity to explore beyond the mysterious lady behind the dark glasses or the bikini-clad woman frolicking in the warm lake water.
Welcome to Sasha Gallery: a clean bright space transformed from an unused garage into a modest home gallery. With a planned opening in spring 2017, the focus for the new gallery will include Vera’s creative prowess, but she will also be representing area artists and is hoping to showcase a small selection of unusual jewellery items. With many ideas brewing, including poetry readings, the gallery space is expected to evolve as her art and her aspirations grow—plans to offer a rental option for her art pieces is also in the works.
Establishing herself into the County culture wasn’t a difficult decision for Vera. Moving to the County from Toronto in April 2016, she had already spent many summers visiting: it was also her son’s favourite place. The gallery, created in her son’s memory and named in his honour, represents a new beginning for a grieving mother who lost her 22-year-old son less than two years ago. Unable to experience his mother’s exciting new venture, Vera delights in knowing Sasha may be smiling at the thought of a gallery bearing his name.
Situated on an island within an island, Sasha Gallery is many things to its owner: a comforting space to create and exhibit; a peaceful place to heal; a corner to reflect. The view of the sand dunes across the lake from Sheba’s Island provides constant inspiration for her work where Vera also draws on a lifetime of experience. Along with painting and drawing, her background and education in graphic design, fashion illustration and costume design each play a role, too.
Vera invites you to experience Sasha Gallery and to share in her exploration of art, design and more. As a member of the Prince Edward County Arts Council, her new project comes with a ton of enthusiasm, buckets of excitement and a steadfast determination to create fresh memories as she builds her new life in Prince Edward County. It comes with the wisdom of learning life can be cut short in a moment, how opportunities need to be grabbed, and dreams followed. But most of all, it comes with the importance of focusing the mind and knowing all she has to do is pick up a paintbrush.