Friday, September 9, 2016

Will Rafuse paints a disappearing city

Smilin Buddha Cabaret | 22 x 38 | Oil on canvas | 2016

 













by Janet Smith on June 15th, 2016 at 11:42 AM
It says something about artist Will Rafuse’s nostalgia for Vancouver that, even though he has moved to the far side of the country, he is still obsessively painting the disappearing streetscapes of his former West Coast home.
There is just something about the tug of this place, and the fact that the city is changing so rapidly, that has kept him painting its old corner stores and vibrant neon signs during his past decade in Montreal, and now in his new home of Saint John.
The Only Seafood, Vernon Drive Grocery, Golden City Cafe, and Boots by Dayton: these are just some of the vintage landmarks that populate his works, some of which will be on view at the Kimoto Gallery as part of this year’s South Granville ArtWalk, on Saturday (June 18).
Then again, it may be his very distance from here that feeds his nostalgia. “When you leave something, you think about it in a different light than you would if you saw it every single day,” says the artist from New Brunswick, reflecting on the B.C. city where his art career flourished for two decades, and still grows.
“I do my take on something that has disappeared or that I think may be torn down, because I love that city and I’m so surprised how much it’s transformed over the past 10 or 20 years. Now it’s changing every day. And now that I’ve been coming back every year for a show, I really notice it.”
He’s in the midst of finishing a work that honours one of Vancouver’s best-loved neon pieces: the 1950s Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret sign as it once hung in its East Hastings streetscape, in oils across a 22-by-38-inch canvas.
Like so many of his paintings of neon, it’s captured in daylight, to show the tubing and layered colours, with the sun reflecting off the surfaces and wires criss-crossing it as they might have back in the day.
“Neon is kind of alive in itself. You can hear the hum of the gas,” he says. “People gravitate toward it because they can relate it to something in their own life. It brings back a memory for them. People will say, ‘I ate at that restaurant’ or ‘I drove by that grocery.’ ”
He adds that the glowing, jiggling-bellied beacon of the long-closed live-music haunt, where everyone from Jimi Hendrix to D.O.A. played, is a classic.
“Besides the Only and the Ovaltine, I think it’s right up there,” he says. “So many people have a lot of nostalgia for that place, and that area [100 block East Hastings] has fallen pretty much as far as it can, unfortunately. That sign holds dear to so many people.”
So just how does Rafuse remember these sites in such detail when he’s putting brush to canvas on the other side of the country? He works from archival photos as well as his own shots. “I have a huge library of imagery I’ve taken on trips out there,” he says.
And it’s his own pictures of signs and streetscapes that really drive home the pace of change in this ridiculously booming West Coast town.
“Even the ones I’ve taken five years ago, it’s changed,” says Rafuse, whose work joins a summer group show of other Kimoto artists, like David Wilson, Jim Park, and Kimberley French, who celebrate, question, and explore this place’s streets and nearby landscapes.
“The old is disappearing very quickly.”

Courtesy of: © Copyright (c) The Georgia Straight

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Kimoto Gallery - Vancouver

Solo Exhibition May 13th - June 11th

~ WISH YOU WERE HERE ~

 

2400 Kingsway | 30 x 30 | Oil on canvas | 2016
























This original oil painting is available at:
KIMOTO GALLERY
Vancouver, British Columbia 

2400 Kingsway
30” x 30”
Oil on canvas
2016

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

KIMOTO GALLERY

WINTER WONDERWALLS

December 12th, 2015 - January 16th, 2016

Dairy Queen Hamburgers | 30 x 30 | Oil on canvas | 2015
























This original oil painting was SOLD at:
KIMOTO GALLERY
Vancouver, British Columbia 
Dairy Queen Hamburgers 
30” x 30”
Oil on canvas
2015

SPEEDEE (McDonald's) | 30 x 30 | Oil on canvas | 2015
























This original oil painting is available at:
KIMOTO GALLERY
Vancouver, British Columbia 
Speedee (McDonald's)
30” x 30”
Oil on canvas
2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mason Fine Art - Atlanta, Georgia

100 Years of the Coca-Cola Bottle | 40 x 40 | Oil on canvas | 2015
























This original oil painting is available at:
MASON FINE ART
Atlanta, Georgia 

6 Pack
100 Years of the Coca-Cola Bottle
40" x 40"
Oil on canvas
2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

MASON FINE ART ~ ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Star Drug Store  Drink Coca-Cola | 40 x 46 | Oil on canvas | 2015





















This original oil painting is available at:
MASON FINE ART
Atlanta, Georgia 

Star Drug Store  
Drink Coca-Cola 
40" x 46"
Oil on canvas
2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

KIMOTO GALLERY - GROUP EXHIBITION

























Vernon Drive Grocery | 38 x 38 | Oil on linen | 2015

Vernon Drive Grocery at 704 Vernon Drive has existed as an 
independent convenience store for over 100 years!



























This original oil painting is available at:
KIMOTO GALLERY
Vancouver, British Columbia 
Vernon Drive Grocery 
38” x 38”
Oil on linen
2015