Essence – art celebrating the roles, struggles, and triumphs of all women

The North Vancouver Community Arts Council and MELD Arts are pleased to present:

– art celebrating the roles, struggles, and triumphs of all women

Month long exhibition
April 27 – May 26, 2018

Opening Reception:
Thursday, April 26, 7-9pm
CityScape Community Art Space

335 Lonsdale, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Responding to violence and harassment of women amid continuing gender discrimination in the work place, Essence will ask these important questions: What is the essence of a woman? What challenges stand in the way of their well-being? What can one do to support those who are so essential to the world’s well- being?

Essence will provide a creative dimension to the multifaceted character and spirit of women by highlighting in vivid colours and shapes their roles, struggles, and triumphs. The exhibition seeks to challenge you, the viewer, to examine how you treat and speak about the women in your lives.

Five artists of Filipino descent, who are creating award-winning works in their home away from their motherland, simultaneously living in at least two cultures, are making ripples that begin with a unique perspective in subject and mark-making. Lead artist, Esmie Gayo McLaren, asks, “What ripple effect are you creating? What can one human being do to make the world a kinder place for women and ultimately for everyone?” The artists aim to spark a conversation about personal solutions to women’s issues.

Essence will feature the works of three female visual artists Esmie Gayo McLaren (Vancouver), Lenore RS Lim (Vancouver, New York, and Manila), and Pamela Gotangco (Switzerland). Recognizing that men are equal partners in shaping a world where everyone should be able to realize their dreams, Essence will also present male artists Chito Maravilla (Vancouver), and Danvic Briones (Vancouver).

Ambassador Petronila P. Garcia, the first woman ambassador to represent the Philippines in Canada, will be the guest speaker at the exhibition’s opening reception.

The Essence exhibit travels to the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa later in September 2018, incorporating the works of two members of the city’s artistic community, Melanie Yugo and Kristina Corre.

Essence will be presented at CityScape Artspace in cooperation with partners Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver, UBC’s Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice (GRSJ), Filipino Music and Art Foundation in BC, and Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS).

Educational components of the exhibit:
Save the Dates!


  • “A Printmaker’s Journey: Balancing Art, Family, and Community”
    Lenore RS Lim, artist and founder of the Filipino Music and Art Foundation in BC, will be doing an art talk about her series on comfort women, her mother’s influence, and the process of printmaking.
    Venue:  CityScape Community Art Space
    Date:  May 12, 2018 (Saturday before Mother’s Day), 2:00-3:00pm
  • “Essence of the Arts for Social Justice:  Why the Critical-Creative Matter Now More Than Ever”
    Through Essence partnership with UBC’s GRSJ, Associate Professor Leonora Angeles of UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning and The UBC Social Justice Institute will deliver a talk to immigrant youths and the community, about women’s issues, during the month-long exhibit.
    Venue:  CityScape Community Art Space
    Date:  May 19, 2018 (Saturday), 2:00-3:30pm

Background – About the artists:

Danvic Briones –

Danvic Briones is a renegade artist, whose initial works were heavily influenced by surrealism, the subconscious, and Salvador Dali. Fine Arts school, however, led him to another path: printmaking (collagraphy). The recipient of several awards, he exhibits in Asia, the United States, and Canada.

Briones carves on soft wood and paints it with subdued colors. The end result: a plate that is not just part of the process but the final artwork. His unique pieces depict a candid slice of life moments of today’s women. They show the blurring and sharpening of boundaries between the roles and stature of women and men in present society. He uses carving tools to interpret the very sharp representative lines which he combines with icons and symbolisms to blur the roles, stature, and responsibilities of both genders.

Pamela Gotango –

Pamela Gotangco stated: “I found voice through my canvas and I seek audience for dialogue. My mission is to impart a piece of my reflection through subtle provocation. My earlier works were composed of several layers of apprehensive thoughts. Recently they were becoming more audacious and blunt. I found the change compelling and appropriate.” Gotangco characterizes her style as figurative, feminine, and arbitrary, oftentimes bordering socio-political arguments. She champions equal opportunity for women and draws insight from their role in society. Her recent works reflect trending socio-political issues and popular fads presented in a subtle, yet solid approach. Textures resonate the intensity of the artist’s thoughts. The heavier, the more intense her message. She employs pleasing colors and does not allow technical skills in brush strokes to decide or limit her ability to be heard. A popular artist, Gotangco balances her exhibits between the Philippines, Switzerland, France, and USA. Essence is her first exhibition in Canada.

Lenore RS Lim –

Lim continues to probe her role as a daughter, a wife, a mother and a Filipina. Her Comfort Women series depicts the Comfort Women’s resolve in overcoming the shame of the sex slavery they were subjected to during World War II. The image of crushed fabric portrays the depth of despair and suffering these women survived. It also conveys the long and dark hours the comfort women spent in silence and in shame. Lim received the Presidential Award, specifically the Pamana ng Pilipino Award, for Filipino overseas (2004) and the Outstanding Professional Award for Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (2005) for her accomplishments in the arts. Lenore enjoys a growing audience of collectors in the United States, where she was awarded a prestigious Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner Foundation Grant, among other honors.

Chito Maravilla –

To Chito Maravilla, the simplicity of his paintings is an admission that he cannot summarize the complexity of his multiple relationships with the women he cares about. Instead, he has taken the idea of Essence, and chosen to explore the multiple ways that womanhood is embodied. Maravilla worked for 16 years as an art director at Campaigns & Grey Advertising in Manila. In 2002, he and his family migrated to Canada where he started working as a playground designer, with works that are widespread around Canada and in the US. Currently, he works as a full-time graphic designer at Smartfilms where he creates for various commercial and corporate institutions. One of his recent designs is a mural at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Outside the corporate commercial work designs, he works part-time as a painter. To highlight his talent as an emerging artist, his works are displayed at venues such as the Vancouver International Airport, Surrey Art Centre, and Lipont Centre in Richmond. He is active in many art organizations including the Surrey Art Gallery Association and Dimasalang III International Artist Group under the tutelage of Sym Mendoza.

Esmie Gayo McLaren  –

In her narrative artmaking, Esmie Gayo McLaren questions, romanticizes, and embraces subjects that resonate with her spirit as artist, woman, and global citizen. Textured canvases, bold colors, and candid subjects are key to her emphases on motion and emotion. Her series on women probes the perception of the viewers whom she brings up close to witness joy, vulnerability, and passion. McLaren is based in Vancouver, Canada, a metropolis of varied cultures. The lines are often blurred between painting and volunteer work as she enjoys bridging communities through her art. A prolific artist, her popularly collected paintings have garnered awards such as “Best of Show”, “People’s Choice”, and “Excellence in Figurative Work”. She holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree from University of Alberta and an Art Certificate from Emily Carr University. Locally and internationally, she continues to explore, create, and make a difference through her art.