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Opinion: Masterful 'Sunlit Impression' takes centre stage in Squamish gallery

Explore Senatorova's captivating exhibit at the Foyer Gallery now.

Have you noticed?  

Squamish has become a magnet for excellence.

And the main question on people’s minds when greeting newcomers is, “How did you discover Squamish?”

Take accomplished visual artist Elena Senatorova, for instance.

Her masterful exhibit, “Sunlit Impression,” is now a highlight at the Squamish Library Foyer Gallery.

In theatrical terms, with expertise in landscapes, portraits and still life paintings, from the classical to impressionism, Senatorova could be called a triple threat.  

Featured are visions of Furry Creek, the majestic mountains of Howe Sound, magical Whytecliff Park, of Horseshoe Bay, an impressive bear, and a portrait of Robert and Betty, a boy and his beloved cat, among others, which are sure to appeal to the Squamish spirit.

Born in Russia and raised in Beijing, China, Senatorova achieved double bachelor degrees in Chinese language and history. Originally, not seeing a future in art, she worked in the travel and financial industries.

Her world fell apart when her father was killed in a terrorist attack.

“This brutal and painful act showed how life can change in an instant,” she said.” Everything is stable and nice and going your way, and you make plans.” She quoted a Russian proverb, “If you want God to laugh at you, tell him about your plans.”

Through her grief, she found solace in art and decided to devote the rest of her life to it and the teaching of it.

 “Art is like a meditation. It can calm you down, rejuvenate and bring out the best in you,” she said.

Senatorova studied at the renowned Angel Academy of Arts in Florence and St. Petersburg Repin Academy of Fine Arts and under the mentorship of esteemed artists throughout the U.S. and Canada.

At her husband’s urging, they emigrated to Vancouver in 2002, later moving to West Vancouver.

Through art, Senatorova made connections with the Squamish art community.

Last year, she taught a course, Painting Art for Beginners, through the auspices of the Squamish Arts Council. She feels that everyone can be an artist but admits to being a stern taskmaster in her teaching.

 “Art is 5% talent and 95% hard work,” she said.

She is teaching aspiring artists the fundamentals of working with oil paints this month at The 55 Activity Centre.

“Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world.”

That quote was from Oprah Winfrey, but it could have been from Senatorova.

Melody Wales is a veteran writer and Squamish resident.