Oceanside Community Arts Council announces new exhibit

Local artist Pattiann Withapea. || Photo submitted by Jennifer Bate, executive director of the McMillan Arts Centre.
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A new exhibit is coming to the Bayside Gallery in Parksville from Jan. 4 – March 31, 2022, featuring the work of three local artists.

Cindy Mersky



Born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1958, Mersky studied at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary (1976-80). She continued her studies at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine (1982-85), earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Art as Applied to Medicine. Intensive workshops, including one at New York’s School of Visual Arts under the tutelage of Milton Glaser, further honed her skills in design and the art of visual communication. 

Mersky worked in the field of medical communications for 25 years as a medical illustrator, advertising manager and creative director. After moving from Toronto to Vancouver Island in 2010, Mersky started to paint full-time, developing her own unique take on non-objective abstract art. In 2013, she was awarded an international artist residency at the Mark Rothko Art Centre in Daugavpils, Latvia. Seven of Mersky’s paintings are now in the centre’s permanent collection. In 2014, she was awarded another international artist residency in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

The work Mersky created during that time is in the public collection of the City of Mtskheta, Georgia. She continues to push her own boundaries, incorporating décollage and utilizing non-traditional tools, such a power-sanders, to develop her works.

Artist Statement:

“All the works in this exhibition were created using the technique of décollage. Décollage is the opposite of collage — from the French word décoller meaning to take off or to unstick. This technique is based upon the appearance of advertisements ripped from billboards, leaving fragments of papers and the layering of previous posters. I see it as a metaphor for time as the colours, textures and overall feel of my work has been influenced by memories of growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Music, fashion, TV shows, advertising, interior design – everything was so cool and groovy. Our home was filled with mid-century modern furniture and artwork, my dad drove a pink Cadillac with giant fins and Bewitched was on TV. I hope you feel the vibe.” 

CJM Ronda
Artwork by Cindy Mersky. || Image submitted by Jennifer Bate.

Sarah Boileau



Born in 1984, Boileau grew up in the small town of Fort St James, B.C. As a child she was heavily influenced by her mom’s passion for photography and many family camping trips in the mountains. Very creative from an early age, she was content as long as she was drawing, painting or making something. After high school Boileau moved to Alberta and spent 12 years in the highway construction industry working as a surveyor. While the hours were long during the work season she had winters off to practice her painting skills. Boileau started painting with oils in 2004, largely self-taught, she has also learned much over the years from other artists. Her style is realistic and she likes to paint landscapes that have strong sculptural shapes. In 2016 she decided to move back to B.C. to pursue a career in art. Boileau currently lives and paints full-time in Nanaimo and is an active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. Her paintings have been exhibited at shows around Vancouver Island, including the McMillan Art Gallery and have received many awards and honourable mentions over the years.

Artist Statement:

“I have always been inspired by the natural beauty of our planet, all of it, and all the more because of the differences and contrasts. It fills my heart with joy to behold a mountain shrouded in misty clouds, or the fresh green of new spring leaves. These visions evoke a powerful feeling of awe and gratitude and I open my heart to the landscape, letting it become a part of me. Every painting I have created comes from this place. I hope to bring more love and beauty into our lives by creating artwork that embodies the spirit of nature so that we may always be reminded of the way that is supports and nourishes our souls.”

Sarah Boileau Mystic Falls
Artwork by Sarah Boileau || Image submitted by Jennifer Bate.

Pattiann Withapea


Pattiann Withapea is a local international award-winning artist and curator with a specialization in abstract and semi-representational painting.  She is an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists and a juried member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. Withapea represented Canada at the Global Arts Festival in India in both 2019 and 2020.  She serves on the board of directors for the Society of Canadian Artists and acts as a juror for national and international exhibitions and competitions. 

Withapea began painting just eight years ago with the hope of quelling the debilitating effects of extreme anxiety. After being diagnosed with severe panic disorder in 2006 and experiencing what seemed like a losing uphill battle for seven years, she picked up a paintbrush and discovered not only her passion, but a way to begin healing. 

Her vibrant abstract paintings demonstrate her desire to break with traditional bonds to express her voice as an artist. Working in alcohol ink, resin with pigments, acrylic paint and mixed media, inspires her to push the boundaries of the traditional and create new techniques while incorporating non-traditional elements that give her work a truly unique imprint. 

Withapea has been selected for several major art initiatives, including mentoring a group of architecture students at the University of Parul as part of their International Arts & Sculpture Festival and the Sanghi Global Art Fest, both held in southeast Asia in 2019. She is also very committed to, and active, in her local arts community. In 2018 she was chosen by the Federation of Canadian Artists to represent them for Canada Culture Days and in 2021 she served as the lead artist and a task force member for B.C. Culture Days. She enjoys being a part of the vibrant Oceanside art community and teaching art classes to local art enthusiasts.

Withapea continues to exhibit her artwork and compete on a national and international level to ensure that she both feeds her passion and remains relevant in the world of art that still seems so very new to her. 

The works that Withapea is exhibiting in this show are part of her latest collection, the Oceana Series. These unique semi-representational works are an homage to her aerial views of some of southeast Asia’s most beautiful beaches, as well as the beaches and coves that surround her home in Nanoose Bay and provide her with solace and an infinite source of inspiration.

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