Grand Forks artist Darlene Dautel poses in her studio beside a painting of her grandson. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Grand Forks artist wins prize at Trail exhibition

Darlene Dautel recognized for her painting of a holiday memory

Darlene Dautel has crafted a living from her hands. But while some chose to be artists, the Grand Forks painter says she never really had a choice.

“I’m driven to know how things are done and how things are produced,” Dautel said. “I’m fascinated that people, thousands of years ago, could produce potter better than what I produced today.” Three unglazed pots sit on her stark white table in her studio on Market Avenue in Grand Forks. Paintings made with encaustic (beeswax), watercolour and a variety of other media line the narrow room’s walls. Beside her in the window sits a small canvas of her grandson eating an ice cream cone, liquid vanilla looking as though it’s melting right off the canvas.

Dautel’s eye for vivid details was rewarded earlier this month, when she was recognized by the West Kootenay Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists (WKCFCA) for her talents.

The WKCFCA has included one of Dautel’s pieces, “Romeo,” in its latest show at the VISAC Gallery in Trail, which runs from now until Dec. 13.

Without knowing Romeo’s story, you might be worried about the man in the yellow shirt that takes up the bottom half of the painting. He sits in shorts, staring around a corner, his eyes begging the viewer to ask what’s beyond the canvas.

It’s a public shower at a Jamaican beach, Dautel confirmed.

It turns out that Romeo, a man who lived near where the Canadian artist was vacationing, would turn up to the shower every morning with his cooking pot and cups in order to clean himself, his teeth and his dishes in one go.

“I just loved him,” said Dautel. “He was making no apologies for it – it was just who he was.”

While Dautel admits that doing dishes at the public beach may not be cause for personal celebration at home, Romeo, she says, “was very much like, ‘Nah, things are good!’”

Dautel said that a lot of her works, like “Romeo,” look at people and their own narratives.

“I like things that tell a story,” Dautel said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a little landscape. Usually, for me, it has a story.”

Like the Greek couple that sit immortalized in paint on Dautel’s studio wall.

“I passed them every day sitting there,” Dautel said, recalling a trip to Greece. “They just always seemed to be sitting there having a smoke and quietly chatting. I just love them – they had so much character.”

Knowing the stories can also inform a selection of favourites. “Romeo” was selected by a jury of three as one of the top works at the WKCFCA’s latest exhibition, but Dautel didn’t even plan on submitting him to the show. It was her daughter who convinced her at the last minute to swap the two-foot by four-foot canvas in for another.

“And then, here he is second place,” Dautel said, of the painting to which she refers as “he,” betraying some level of affection for a piece submitted to sale.

“I wouldn’t be heartbroken if it comes back to me,” the artist said, “that’s for sure.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDKB issues evacuation alert for 1,100 Boundary properties

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

RDKB launches survey to address housing needs in the district

Communities in the district include Trail, Grand Forks, Rossland and Fruitvale

Possible Kermode Bear spotted near Castlegar

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run on May 27

Stolen truck found in Christina Lake

Family happy the vehicle was found

Two more Johnson Flats properties given evacuation alerts

Forecast graphs for Boundary rivers show another spike for week of June 1

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Join Kootenay family in virtual walk for Ronald McDonald House

“We always described it as our oasis in the middle of the desert,” Brigitte Ady shares.

Most Read