Mental health advocacy and environmental protection intersect in work of B.C. artist J Peachy

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      The artist could have chosen any other venue for his first solo exhibition.

      After all, J Peachy is at home in what he calls the Coast Salish territory, which includes the Lower Mainland and parts of Vancouver Island, extending across the border to Washington and Oregon.

      “I have a creative migration that’s analogous to the fish,” Peachy told the Straight in a phone interview leading up to his show. “I swim through these spaces, and I create and express and interact with communities.”

      Movement(s) opens Friday (April 29) at the Gallery at the Artisan Square on Bowen Island, 20 minutes by ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver.

      It will take a journey for many from the mainland of Metro Vancouver to see the exhibit, which runs until May 23.

      That “separation from the city” wasn’t a whimsical choice.

      For the multidisciplinary artist, it’s a symbolic parting with some of the “ills” associated with modern society that have caused despair and unhappiness to people.

      “If we talk about modern, westernized lifestyle, and how a lot of people haven’t able to confront the core root of maybe where their pain is, they will over-consume to fill the hole … as opposed to addressing the core root issue,” Peachy said, “so you know, through addictions they could fill that hole with alcohol, they could fill it with shopping, they could fill it with any modern lifestyle activity that has been promoted to us as consumption therapy, so to speak. And it’s in the narratives; it’s in the mainstream advertising.”

      “There’s this temptation from modern consumption society, like a drug dealer, that they have the cure,” he also said. “That ideology or that ‘religion’ so to speak is based on the exploitation of natural resources, and to be utilized in a short term consumption basis ... You have to keep feeding that need for indulgence on a perpetual basis, and people, they are cycling mad through this. They don’t realize how they got to continue … this absurdity.”

      This “wasteful” lifestyle is bad for planet.

      “Fast-paced, frenetic society, it has a very short-term consumption or indulgence for a product, and then it goes right back into the landfill,” Peachy said.

      Movement(s) reflects Peachy’s worldview as much as it mirrors the life he has lived.

      The former corporate executive previously struggled with mental illness, and found salvation through art and his reconnection with nature.

      “The connection with the fish spirit and that spirituality, that nature-based spirituality, as opposed to organized religion, is the current that flows through all the work that I do,” he said. “Everything in the show there is based on, you know, a reflection, and social commentary, and an expression of the worldview that has kind of refined itself for me.”

      The opening reception for Movement(s) is on Saturday (April 30). It will feature an artist talk, dance theatre performance by the Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Collective, and a circus performance by Kasha Konaka.

      The April 30 event will start at 5:30 p.m. with an opportunity to partake in indigenous food tastings.