In this interview, learn a little bit about our current Winter Small Works Show & Sale, Karen’s advice for artists and gallery goers, and what is currently inspiring her this winter season.

Each year, as the days grow shorter and the nights longer, there doesn’t seem to be any less light radiating from the Massey Gallery in the wintertime. Art Rental and Sales Consultant, Karen Cooper talks about the coziness and the moodiness of these colder months, how they impact the art that goes on our walls and the artists that gather within them.


Q: Where are you from and what is your background in art?

Karen Cooper (KC): I grew up in Winnipeg which has a really great arts community. My first love in the arts was music and dance. I opened an art gallery in Victoria in 2003 called On Canvas above Ferris’ Oyster Bar, and that’s where I really learned about the business of art.

Q: What is inspiring you lately?

KC: I am so inspired by the artists who are involved in the program, they have really grown in the years that I’ve been here. I’m inspired by these good relationships, the kinds where you take advice, you visit with each other during and after the shows, and just the amount of teamwork involved. You are always so supported by this community.

Q: What is the atmosphere of this year’s Winter Small Works show?

KC: This year’s show is very high-caliber, and it brings a special type of wintery mood. Of course, there’s always a colour story, lots of broody-moody – or maybe that’s the melancholy in me! I am such a fan of the lighting in each piece, you know I sometimes only light my own home in candlelight. I’d have candles lighting the opening if it weren’t such a fire hazard!


Opening reception for Winter Small Works Show & Sale. Courtesy of the AGGV.


Q: Do you find the tone shifts with each winter collection? What do you think is setting this winter apart?

KC: I’m not sure if there’s a huge change between the winters, but I do feel the biggest difference comes from transitioning from summer to winter. As Canadians, we’re 4 season beings. We notice the changes in temperature, in general mood. We embrace the winter as it comes, but somehow we always seem to forget that it gets cold!

Q: How do you think the Art Rental & Sales shows impact the local arts community?

KC: Every show, there are new people, new artists to us. There is no shortage of good artists on the Island. As a gallery, of course we support them, but these artists – they support each other, they visit, they celebrate. That’s what all the Small Works shows do, they celebrate!


Opening reception for Winter Small Works Show & Sale. Courtesy of the AGGV.


Q: Any advice for artists who are interested in applying?

KC: Put your very best foot forward. Don’t submit your second best work, and submit lots – all your best pieces. Treat yourself seriously, be confident. Feel proud of who you are and what you do.

Q: What would you tell first-time visitors to look forward to for this show?

KC: Look forward to what you love! Plain and simple. And what you love now, be confident that you will love 15 years into the future. You know, I bought my first piece of art when I was 16 years old because I loved it. I was only making a buck an hour and I bought this gorgeous Raku pottery vase. I still have it!


Karen’s first Raku piece. Courtesy of Karen Cooper.  Courtesy of the AGGV.


Q: Last question, and maybe the most important.. Any plans for the holidays?

KC: I’m probably going to go to the Cowichan valley to visit one of my friends. It’s such an inspiring place. I’m just inspired by the walk up and down her road, with all the cows, horses and sheep. I love her dog and her wood-fired stove, and I’m going to make the best Yorkshire pudding!


Come visit the Massey Gallery at the AGGV to get a glimpse of the artwork on offer. The Winter Small Works Show & Sale opened on November 9, 2023 and will be running until January 27, 2024.


Written by Cassia Powell, AGGV Marketing Assistant


Feature Image: Photo of Karen Cooper. Courtesy of the AGGV.