Art retrospective captures a well-travelled life

Betty Woo Retrospective is on at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts from Sept. 18 to Oct. 17

Betty Woo is doing what she’s always wanted to do.

“I’m happy. My whole life is working in art,” said Woo, a longtime visual arts instructor at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts whose work is at the heart of a new exhibition.

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Betty Woo Retrospective: Life Well-Travelled is on at the Shadbolt Centre from Tuesday, Sept. 18 to Wednesday, Oct. 17. An opening reception is set for Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

The exhibition incorporates watercolour, acrylic and oil paintings, figurative drawings, Chinese brushstroke and sculpture.

Woo’s artistic abilities showed themselves at an early age, and she worked towards her goal of a career in art, specifically as an art instructor, from the beginning. She arrived in Vancouver from Taiwan in 1968 and directed her arts practice into a career as an instructor. Woo says that teaching – she’s been at the Shadbolt Centre for nearly 25 years and has also taught at venues around Metro Vancouver – is her true calling.

“I do what I really wanted to do,” Woo said in a press release.

Her extensive travels throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East have long influenced her artwork, as she takes a sketchbook everywhere to capture impressions of her experiences.

In her personal artistic practice, she has tried her hands at a wide range of media and subject matter.

Woo finds the portrait and figure drawing especially complex and challenging, she said.

“The lively execution of a person’s image and the portrayal of the subject’s mood are equally important when creating a portrait,” she said.

At the same time, Woo says, she’s drawn to the form of Chinese brush painting – which she calls “simplistic, yet graceful.”

“It requires discipline and self-confidence to create value and dimension using spontaneous brushstrokes, as there is no correction on rice paper,” she pointed out.

But she doesn’t discount other mediums, either, noting she loves the “crispness and transparency” of watercolour, the versatility of acrylic and the richness of oil.

Since 1975, she has exhibited in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the U.S., Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

The retrospective of Woo’s work can be seen in the Encores and Centre Aisle galleries at the Shadbolt Centre, 6450 Deer Lake Ave. See www.shadboltcentre.com for more details.

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