Renowned Canadian artists Ken Kirkby and Nana Cook are supporting Project Watershed’s Kus-kus-sum initiative with a unique art event in Courtenay. “Paintings, By the Numbers” will be at the Native Sons’ Hall on May 2, 2020. Only fifty $500 tickets will be sold, and all ticket holders will take home a painting, worth between $1,500 and $4,000, based on a raffle system devised by Ken Kirkby himself. When talking about the event Kirkby was heard saying “This event is not just a good deal, it’s a steal!”

The first opportunity for people to buy tickets for “Paintings, By the Numbers” will be on February 6 at the ticket launch event hosted at New Traditions Brewery in Comox, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Artists Ken Kirkby and Nana Cook will be present, and five of their paintings will be on display. Beverages and food will be available for purchase from New Traditions during the event. Due to limited space at New Traditions, Project Watershed asks that attendees RSVP at projectwatershed.ca/paintingsbythenumbers/ or by calling 250-703-2871.

As ongoing fundraiser, New Traditions is collecting donations for their pretzels and trivia events and passing those on to Project Watershed and the Kus-kus-sum project.

“Odlum Brown Limited is proud to sponsor Paintings, By The Numbers for Project Watershed and the Kus-kus-sum initiative” said Janine Martin. “We feel that restoring the sawmill site to a natural riverbank habitat is an important initiative that we are proud to support.”

Remaining “Paintings, By The Numbers” tickets will be available to the public online at projectwatershed.ca/paintingsbythenumbers/ after 8:00 pm February 6 and at the Project Watershed office at 2356a Rosewall Crescent during regular office hours. In addition to $500 tickets, $15 tickets can be purchased for those who wish to attend the event, enjoy the food, drink and music and watch the mayhem as the $500 ticket holders scramble to make their choice when their number is called.

While the event includes paintings by Nana Cook, Amanda Jones and Christian Morrisseau, most are by Kirkby himself. Many of Kirkby’s paintings are held in important public, private and corporate collections, including members of the Royal Family, the Canadian House of Parliament, and Canadian Prime Ministers. He has kept some of his art aside to support important causes such as Kus-kus-sum.

Another cause that touched his heart was raising awareness about the Canadian Arctic and the issues of the Inuit people. He did this through “Isumataq” – at the time it was the world’s largest oil-on-canvas portrait. The 12 ft high by 152 ft long painting of the Arctic landscape and its Inukshuit was exhibited at the Canadian Parliament in 1992 and Ontario Place in 1993 along with a multi-media exhibit attended by more than one million visitors. Recently Kirkby has turned his “warrior-painter” gaze on the depletion of the salmon stocks and the destruction of their habitats in B.C. rivers.

Kirkby approached Project Watershed about this fundraiser in 2018, saying “After hearing about Kus-kus-sum and knowing what a positive effect this will have on salmon stocks and watching the hard work, sweat and tears you all were putting into this initiative, I thought that this was an organisation deserving of my support. ”

Ken Kirkby currently lives in Bowser with his wife and kindred artist, Nana Cook. They both draw on the natural beauty of their environment as a limitless source of inspiration for their paintings. Most of the paintings on offer at this event reflect West Coast landscapes. To find out more about the event, the artwork and the artists visit projectwatershed.ca/paintingsbythenumbers/.

Caila Holbrook

Manager of Fundraising , Outreach and Mapping, Comox Valley Project Watershed Society