By ERIN HORROCKS-POPE
Carolyn Pack’s journey is a tale of surprises and perseverance in the ever-evolving art world.
At 68-years-old, she’s gearing up for her first solo exhibit this month at Museo Bellini in Florence, Italy. With 15 of her oil paintings in tow, Pack is about to take her art from the studios of Toronto to one of the grandest stages in the international art scene.
The whole adventure of this exhibit, which runs from Oct. 7 to 15, started in an unexpected place: LinkedIn.
When a curator reached out to her last year, expressing interest in showcasing her work at Museo Bellini, Pack couldn’t help but wonder if it was a scam. The art world has its fair share of dubious offers, after all. But as it turned out, this was the real deal, a golden opportunity that would send her on an artistic journey she had never imagined.
An artist all her life, Pack’s artistic career took off back in 1986 when she graduated from the Toronto School of Art. Since then, she’s dedicated her life to her craft, teaching courses, and showcasing her work internationally.
But this solo exhibition in Florence is a whole new level of excitement and nerves. It’s not just a milestone; it’s a dream come true.
When asked about her feelings regarding this extraordinary opportunity, Pack’s words resonate with a mix of humility and excitement. “I’ve worked for it,” she said. “I’ve been recognized before by gallery owners, art dealers, and people who love and understand the arts. So, this is the accumulation of a lot of hard work, and it’s just so, so great.”
In recent years, Pack’s focus has shifted to high realism, especially in portraiture.
One of her most significant works is a high-realism portrait commissioned by naturalist and wildlife pioneer Harry Lumsden, known as the Swan King for his dedication to saving trumpeter swans from extinction. Even though Lumsden is no longer with us, Pack’s remarkable portrait serves as a powerful reminder of his legacy and the ability of art to capture a person’s essence.
Though she has experimented with various mediums, Pack expresses her art today explicitly through oil paintings on canvas.
She loves the medium for its versatility and the freedom it gives her to explore her creative visions. The slow-drying nature of oils allows her to dive deep into each piece, layer by layer, achieving a level of precision that characterizes high realism.
Art has been Pack’s refuge, especially during challenging times. She’s faced personal and health hardships, including congenital heart disease and two major open-heart surgeries. But her art has always been a source of strength and healing.
“The art can just build you up when you feel broken,” she said. “When you become so intensely involved in it, it’s a natural and wonderful high, and it’s kept me healthy beyond understanding.”
So, as Pack prepares to exhibit her art in Florence, Italy, she does so with a lifetime of passion, dedication, and a deep appreciation for the transformative power of art.
While her grand solo exhibit in Florence is a testament to her artistic journey, local residents will have the chance to meet Pack and experience her artwork at the upcoming Winter Art Show & Sale, presented by the Beach Guild of Fine Art, of which she is a member. The show will take place at Beach United Church, 140 Wineva Ave, from Nov. 17 to 19.