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Happiness at the Reach

A new exhibit featuring artists who live with an acquired brain injury is now on at the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford. The show, titled “Happiness”, focuses on the things that bring us happiness, even in this time of pandemic and isolation. The show is on display in the Community Art Space and will be on display until January 9, 2021. Please visit the Reach website for location and hours and call ahead to ensure that the space is not being used at the time you wish to visit. For those who cannot get to the gallery, we have included an image of each art piece here along with a description from each artist. Our hope is that this will inspire you to consider that which brings you happiness!

How does your art piece relate to the theme of Happiness?

Audrey Danchak, Bird of happiness: I like birds. I enjoy watching the birds in the bird bath outside on my patio, I find it relaxing and beautiful.

Barbara Haynes, Wistful: I lose myself in my painting and am able to relax my brain when I am painting. Painting brightens my day and I’m always happy after I’ve been painting.

Bernadette MacDonald, Taking a Leap: My painting is symbolic of my experience of surfing a brain injury. As a survivor, I have learned to meet many ongoing challenges, some of these have been speaking, walking and improving memory function. Today, with the help of the Fraser Valley Brain Injury, and their supports, I am able to improve and adjust to life again.  I am able to take a leap and work on making my life the best it can be.

Bernard VanSpronsen, The Beach: I enjoyed painting this scene. It now hangs on my living room wall. I feel happy that my wife thinks this is one of my best paintings. There were many happy moments, shared with other members of the ArtWorks Class.

Blair Porowski, Hawk: In the stillness, a hawk calmly views everything around him with his piercing eyes. Painting wildlife brings me happiness, especially during COVID when I can’t do as many other things. I can always work on my art.

Danny Bruce, Overcoming Addiction: It makes me feel good doing it, shining the light through the darkness, bring me hope, and a sense of accomplishment.

Dave Hildebrand, Sunset: Photography has been a blessing during my journey after my brain injury. When I have a bad day, I take my camera, get into my car, and find a place to take photos. These have been the happiest times for me.

Janice Oesch, Who Gives a Hoot? Looking at owls brings me happiness. I love the creature; they are resilient, like me.

Jason King, Orca Adventure: The water is soothing; it brings a sense of freedom.  The forest makes me think of mystery and challenge.

Jesse Hanson, Special Place: I find the warmth of the fall colours comforting; it brings back wonderful memories.

Judy Craig,  Searching for Solace: To me this image brings me happiness because it is a place of solitude, an opportunity to just be still and listen to nothing but the waves and the sound of your own heart. It is peaceful. Connecting with the environment is magical; it is a feeling of being in balance where all things come together as one. To me it is almost a dream state, which is why I painted the rocks soft. There is beauty in the old tree laying on the sand. This is what brings me happiness.

Kortnnaye Neufeld, Evening Stroll: This painting of me and my dad, walking outside at night time is a memory that gives me happiness.

Kristine Clark, Reflection of me: Daisies are a tenacious weed.  I am trying to find myself; I have multiple layers like the daisy. I have changed since the accident and I am working on rediscovering my ability. Daisies are fragile and resilient like me.

Larry Wunderlich, Neighbours Living in Harmony: One day, while at work driving the garbage truck, I was turning the truck around in a cul de sac. I looked up and this scene was in front of me: this grove of trees with this beautiful foxglove flower all by itself, illuminated by the sun. It took me months to memorize the image before I could paint it but it made me happy then, it still makes me happy now.

Linda Wall, Love Birds: I love birds; birds are always going new places, stretching their wings to fly.  As a person I also want to take flight, to be adventurous, to try new things to have the courage to be confident and be happy in who I am, each and every day.  This brings me happiness because I am better than what I think I am.

Lois English, Eden: When I look at this piece; it represents my idea of paradise.

Michelle McKee, Branching Out: Painting gives me a sense of peace and happiness. It allows me to express my emotions where I’m able to transform them and recreate them with colour on canvas.

Mike Stolee, Autumn Birches: This piece reminds me of the fun times I had during painting classes with John LeFlock. We would joke and enjoy conversation with other survivors of ABI. I was happy painting and sharing good times with friends.

Pete Wonitowy, Peaceful Valley: I smile when I look at this piece. It reminds me of nature and the fun time it was painting this picture.

Pieter Pannehoek, Candle light in the night: I chose to paint this picture to lighten my day.  It gives me hope and serenity.

Randy Hoxie, A Peaceful Rest: This picture reminds me of the many times we have spent on the shores of the West Coast.  I find much peace and rest as I walk along the beach and listen to the waves. We usually go in the Fall and to places that are less populated.  For me, the sound of the waves drowns out the busyness of life and help me to focus on “a peaceful rest.”

Sharon Marie Wells, Believe: Sharon’s mother writes: Sharon suffered a severe closed head injury at the age of 15. She is a very happy person and loves everyone. She is very proud of her art work. Sharon writes: I love to paint and I get proud when I am finished. It is an achievement.

Various Members of the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association, Greeting Cards: These cards are the work of multiple photographers. With instruction from Stephan Baker, professional photographer, participants enjoyed many happy times learning about photography and how to make greeting cards with the photos they took.

Verna Price, Music for my Soul: The colours represent me; this painting brings me serenity.


Happiness will be on display at the Reach from November 5, 2020 to January 9, 2021. Visit the Reach for more details!

I Want To See This!