Two gallery visitors sit down for a caricature from Mitchell Brager at the “Northern Homes etc.” opening on Jan. 4. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Terrace man’s creative journey highlights Prince Rupert buildings

Twenty-two-year-old Mitchell Brager’s “Northern Homes, etc.” debuts in Jan. art exhibit

A Terrace artist put the spotlight on some Prince Rupert buildings in a new art collection last week.

Mitchell Brager, a 22-year-old artist with autism, debuted his second exhibit at the Terrace Art Gallery on Jan. 4.

Known for his illustrations of the world around him, Mitchell’s “Northern Homes etc.” is a collection of paintings of heritage buildings and key landmarks in places including Prince Rupert, Terrace and Stewart. He first connects with each piece from a photograph, drawing the outline first, then adding more detail and colour later on.

He’s quick and confident with his work and draws constantly, according to mom Colleen Brager. In December, he completed 25 paintings before the exhibit.

“He draws all the time, so when we’re at home, he’s always got stacks of paper,” says Colleen. “It’s an outlet for him… When he draws, he’s very focused and he’s calm, and he’s just in the moment with it.”

Mitchell first began colouring at a young age but grew as an artist when his elementary school aid in Kelowna introduced him to drawing. He worked with several other artists to learn different methods and techniques, until eventually, one artist told Colleen he didn’t need any more training; he knew what he was doing and had his own style.

“He’s really loose and confident. He’s not taking a lot of time to worry about the fine details, he’s just throwing in what he sees and engages with each piece from a photograph. It’s really effective, very efficient and very bright,” said Laura McGregor, gallery coordinator.

READ MORE: Salmon, oolichan given new life in Terrace art exhibit

To show where Mitchell’s talents first began, drawings from his childhood are also part of the exhibit. Pieces date back to when Mitchell first began with self-portraits and several Disney characters — Colleen’s personal favourite is one drawing of Winnie the Pooh’s belly.

“I was really concerned that he was going to get upset and throw it out because he didn’t draw the face,” she says. “But he liked it and moved on to the next one, and that’s when I knew he was an artist.”

One of Mitchell’s first pieces, ‘Winnie the Pooh.’

Several of his most recent pieces were painted in the gallery, a quiet place where Mitchell can focus without distraction.

Though on opening day, his once usually quiet studio was filled with noise, chatter and movement. To give him a place where he could concentrate amid the clamour, Colleen set up a table for him to draw caricatures of gallery guests.

Autism can often make socializing and interacting with others difficult, and she said the live drawings allow Mitchell to interact and focus on the details of the person in front of him, a momentary pause to interact with his subject.

READ MORE: B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

“Mitchell is a guy with autism who can be different and all over the place, but everyone sees the amazingness in him through of his art,” Colleen said.

His focus is immediate — Mitchell zones in and gets right to work, starting with the person’s outline, then filling in their most noticeable details.

With a smile on his face and a few glances at his subject, Mitchell can illustrate the person sitting across from him within minutes, creating a personalized piece of their own to take home.

“For Mitchell…it’s a really nice way for him to engage with people one on one,” McGregor says. “He needs to look at them and see that kind of detail on them.”

Mitchell drew 28 caricatures the opening night, with half of the proceeds going back to the gallery. He also sold 19 of his paintings, with many residents asking for commissions of their own.

“People know who he is now, we’ll be walking around town and someone will say ‘Hey, is that Mitchell the artist?’ It’s really cool to feel that community love and support,” she says.

The “Northern Homes etc.” exhibit will be on display at the Art Gallery until Jan. 26, with several of Mitchell’s pieces available for purchase.

To report a typo, email: editor@thenorthernview.com.



Send Newsroom email.
Like the The Northern View on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Kaien Anti-Poverty Society hoping to raise $20K in 50/50 community bingo nights

KAPS is looking to raise money for a new vehicle to support their growing food program

Snickers and Superheroes at Udderfest

Fantasy and frivolity the Friday festival offerings

Rupert Lawn and Garden awards build contract for new site to Prince Rupert firm

Garden centre also set to announce temporary location while construction takes place

Esthetically pleasing program coming to Prince Rupert

Coast Mountain College is rolling out a new esthetics program in November

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Heart of Our City: Kaps off to Colleen Hermanson

Colleen Hermanson began working in social services as early as 1968

The Northern View announces inaugural Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

More than $7,000 up for grabs for biggest legal salmon and halibut

The Northern View 2019 Readers Choice

It’s that time of year again! Vote online or at the Prince Rupert office before noon on Aug. 30

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

Most Read