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Art Around Town

Currently at the Port Theatre

Salmon sculptures swim across the high ceilings in the curved lobby of Nanaimo’s Port Theatre. Their leaping bodies appear to lead you to nooks and crannies hung with local artwork on the walls of the first and second floors of the 800-seat theatre located on the corner of Front Street and Museum Way. The Port Theatre has been hosting Art Around Town for over fifteen years. Despite COVID, the show must go on, and so a new edition of Art Around Town went up in mid-October, featuring works by twenty-three local artists.

Art Around Town allows artists to display their work while adding a healthy dose of colour to the lobby walls for concert goers to enjoy. There is a pleasant surprise in every corner including framed photographs, multimedia work on archival paper and numerous vibrant landscapes reminiscent of the style of E.J. Hughes. Prices are reasonable, so if you find a work you would love to own, remember that your purchase goes towards supporting a local artist.

Greg Graham, senior Front of House Manager is always excited to see what new work will be displayed whenever there is a changeover of the art.  “It’s the joy of my life,” says Graham. The Port Theatre is very supportive of local art, and the theatre’s management believes it’s important to showcase artists from a wide range of backgrounds, working in many different styles. There is artwork from high school students displayed on the third floor, and Gabriola fibre artists have a small display of their work near the administration offices.

Nanaimo artist Eileen Williamson has shown her work with Art Around Town since it first began. 

I am thrilled to have a venue such as the Port Theatre to hang my art. I work best when I have a show to work towards and as you are probably aware, Nanaimo has very few places for local artists to hang,” Williamson says. Her artwork consists of brilliant acrylic paintings of the wild spaces of Vancouver Island. Her painting “Sunlight and Shadow at Moorecroft,” can be viewed in the lobby on level one.

Zann Hemphill, a full-time pet portrait artist, also struggles to find public spaces to show her art. 

“The support from the Nanaimo Arts Council has been great. Art Around Town has allowed me to get more visibility for my art,” Hemphill claims. This venue has helped her make connections with customers from across the country. Hemphill believes exposure to art while attending the theatre is a wonderful way to get an extra cultural experience.

Karen Sargent is a seascape and landscape artist who works in acrylics. Sargent, like many others, has been displaying her work with Art Around Town since its inception.

“It’s great for an artist to get noticed,” Sargent says. She is currently showing her painting, “Three Amigos,” a large canvas of three pelicans bobbing in the surf. 

Dana Smiley is a part-time artist who also works in acrylics. Smiley has also been a volunteer with the Nanaimo Arts Council over the years. She first joined the board to make connections with other artists.

“It’s difficult to get your artwork in a gallery. The Port Theatre has definitely been very supportive in helping artists,” Smiley says.

John Collinson-Baker has been interested in photography for over forty years. He has been showing his framed photographs with Art Around Town for many years. Of note is his framed close-up of a Bumble bee sipping nectar daintily from within the petals of a white flower.

“There’s a large variety of styles to look at,” Collinson-Baker says.

All events at the Port Theatre have safety protocols in place with 50 seats available for each in-house event to allow for physical distancing. There is no intermission, so come half an hour early to have a gander at some spectacular art. If you can’t attend a performance in person, the Port also offers live streaming for most events.

 Concert goers can view Art Around Town until early in the New Year. A changeover of artwork is scheduled for February 2021. 




Hanging Date: October 15, 2020
Time: 10:00 am
Location: Port Theatre

We are excited to announce that the Art around Town show at the Port Theatre is now open for registration!

  • Art Around Town is open only to Nanaimo Art Council members

  • Renew your membership at https://www.nanaimoartscouncil.ca/join

  • This exhibit is 2-D work only and will show for approximately 3 months

  • Work will be juried by the Hanging Committee on the day of hanging

  • Work must be for sale. Commission is 30%

  • Due to space limitations, outside dimensions must be NO LARGER THAN 36 inches in the longest dimension

  • All work must be hanging ready, appropriately framed or finished with braided-wire hangers and the artist name, medium, title of work, and price firmly affixed to the back of the art

  • Space is limited so only one piece per artist will be hung

Entrants are required to register before October 12 using the form below.
Note that registration is necessary. Due to space limitations, we will limit the number of entries to 25.  Those not pre-registered will not have their work accepted.