Pilar Mehlis


Vancouver based artist, Pilar Mehlis was born in New York and raised in La Paz, Bolivia. Drawing from her personal experience with immigration to Canada as a child in 1983 and subsequent cyclical migrations to her place of origin in South America (Bolivia) and back to Canada, Pilar seeks to explore similar patterns of migration in the natural world. In this instance she chose the Chinook salmon as it has migratory patterns which echo her own trajectories up and down the Pacific coast and also for its significant place in West Coast culture.  Immigration is a transformative experience: it takes the original person and “dresses” them in new cultures, languages, sensations, ideas and attitudes.  This transformation creates a hybrid that often belongs to two places and cultures at once and yet not wholly to either. There is a collision between innocence and new experiences involved in such transitions. Pilar’s work explores these frictions and the ideas of identity, sense of place, transformation and cultural hybridization with particular emphasis on her own transformative experience from being culturally Bolivian to becoming Canadian and how, through cultural narratives, those two identities are embodied within her. 


Pilar’s INCUBATOR show focuses on the hybrid fish/human figure called Antrofish which she uses to metaphorically illustrate the many aspects of the migration and immigration experience. Through the inherent materiality of the Antrofish sculpture the work metaphorically illustrates the condition of having more than one identity: It is half human and half fish, the Antrofish is also built in two parts: the top is made of painted canvas and treated papers and the bottom (hips and legs) is made of either polymer resin and encaustic or hydrostone plaster. The final figure is comprised of two distinct beings and while it still retains aspects of its origins (human and fish) it emerges as a whole new individual reflecting in its sensibilities a unique cultural genetic code. The result is the discovery of identity perhaps not typical but of value nonetheless. An identity that exists in the negative spaces (visually speaking) or outside of local culture and which can be reflected on by those who choose to see and explore it.



April 2017 Herringer Kiss Gallery, HKINCUBATOR

May 2016 “I Belong Here…” Lookout Gallery, Vancouver, BC (Solo Exhibition)

November 2012- 2015 Participant in the Vancouver Eastside Culture Crawl, Studio 318-1000 parker St. Vancouver, BC

February-April 2012 “Down the Rabbit Hole” Art Gallery of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta (Four person show)

May 2011 “Metanoia” Petley Jones Gallery, Vancouver,BC. (Solo Exhibition)

April 2010 U8, SOPA Gallery, Kelowna, BC (Group Exhibition)

March 2010 Drawn Festival, Petley Jones Gallery, Vancouver, BC (Group Exhibition)

September 2009 “Heads and Tales” Petley Jones Gallery, Vancouver, BC. (Solo Exhibition)

March 2009 Drawn Festival, Petley Jones Gallery, Vancouver, BC (Group Exhibition)

January 2009 “Out of Space” Chapel Arts, Vancouver, BC. (Group Exhibition)

November 2008 Amnesty International, Presentation and Auction of commissioned painting “Ode to Perseverance” Art Auction and Gala, Vancouver, BC

March 2008 “Tales of Isolated Incidents” Numen Gallery, Vancouver, BC. (Solo Exhibition)

August 2007 “Power Games” Studio 344 1000 Parker St.Studios, Vancouver, BC. (Solo Exhibition)

October 2004 St. Augustine’s Centre Hall, Vancouver, BC (Solo Exhibition)

November 2000 “Dresses and Contemplation” University of Victoria Mc Pherson Library Gallery, Victoria, BC (Solo Exhibition)

April 2000 “De Velos, Sueños y Polleras” Alternativa, Centro de Arte. La Paz-Bolivia. (Solo Exhibition)

March 2000 “Tales of the Mehnavides Trees” Gallery 1248, Victoria, BC (Solo Exhibition)

2000 “ i ”is for Immigrant, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre, Victoria, BC

2000 “Carlos Salazar Mostajo” Peña Naira Gallery, La Paz – Bolivia

Spring 1999 “Sooke 1999” Sooke Juried Annual Art Show. (Invitational) Sooke, BC


Bibliography and Website Publications

Ø “Fishy by Nature: ….Eastside Culture Crawl had its standout pieces” Rebecca Keillor, The Vancouver Sun, The Home Front; November 27th, 2015.

Ø Pilar Mehlis: Feature Artist of Parker Art Salon review by Barry Dumka of BC Creative Consulting, April 2015

Ø “Pilar Mehlis: Mythical Reality, Magical Realism” Alia Tracy, JJohnson Agency, February 2014 www.jjohnsonagency.tumblr.com

Ø Artwork Feature: Phoebe Journal 42.2 Online Issue, George Mason University publication, Spring 2013

Ø “Down the Rabbit Hole” Exhibition Catalogue, Anne Ewen, Chief curator, Art Gallery of Calgary, Spring, 2012

Ø Artwork Feature “Rules of Engagement” Black Tongue Review, Issue III, Chicago, USA December, 2012

Ø “Pop goes the Art World”, Indrani Karin, Fast Forward Weekly, Calgary, AB, Feb,16th,2012

Ø “Portrait of an Artist: Pilar Mehlis” Stephen Thomson, Straight.com online magazine, May 2011

Ø “Portrait of Artist- Pilar Mehlis”, Lena Sin, The Province, Vancouver,BC, May 9th, 2011

Ø “Hot Art:Animal Instincts”, by KristinaUrquhart, WHERE Magazine, Vancouver, BC

Ø “Artist Paints the Significance of Dress” Ingrid Paulsen, Arts Saanich News, Victoria, November 2000

Ø “Pilar Mehlis Pinta Añoranzas” Editor German Arauz Crespo, La Razon La Paz, May, 2000


Awards, Honours and Community Involvement

2015- Ongoing Parker Art Salon Organizing Committee, Vancouver, BC

2013-2015 Vancouver Eastside Culture Crawl Board of Directors, Vancouver, BC

2010-2012 Artist in Residence Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna, BC

1993 Prize in Painting, Juried Art Exhibition “Salon de Bellas Artes” Casa de la Cultura. La Paz, Bolivia

1992 First Honourable Mention in Painting, Juried Art Exhibition “Salón de Bellas Artes” Casa de la Cultura. La Paz, Bolivia.



2013-Current Artway Studios Drawing and Oil painting Instructor, Vancouver, BC

2013-14 ArtMania, Art Instructor, Various Public Schools in Vancouver and North Vancouver, BC

2010-2011 Rotary Centre for the Arts Oil painting workshops, Kelowna BC

2012 Kelowna Art Gallery Painting Workshop Instructor for Youth, Kelowna, BC


Selected Commissions

2008 Amnesty International “Perseverance” Visual representation of Article Number 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (private collection)

2002 “Pear Pickers” “A gift from the Heart Youth Foundation” The painting serves as a traveling trophy for the first place prize winners of “Resonance” an annual amateur choir festival. (private collection)

2001 Portrait of NFL HockeyPlayer Mike Keane. Commemoration of his 1000th game.

(private collection)

1995 International Scholarship Fund. Logo Design. University of Victoria. Victoria, BC

1994 Banco Central de Bolivia. Portrait for the Gallery of Presidents. La Paz, Bolivia

(public collection)


Education and Training

2015 Sculpture Mentorship with David Robinson, David Robinson studio, Vancouver, BC

2010 Painting workshops with Juliette Aristides, Gage Academy of Art, Seattle, WA, USA

2008-9 Painting workshops with Paul Chizik, Langara College, Vancouver, BC

2007 Art Criticism and Curatorship Seminar, National Museum of Art, La Paz, Bolivia

2002-3 Painting workshops with Thomas Anfield, Vancouver Academy of Art, Vancouver BC

1998 B.F.A. Double Major Visual Arts/History of Art, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

1992-1995 Facultad de Bellas Artes, Universidad Mayor de San Andres, La Paz, Bolivia

1990 Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Hernando Siles, La Paz, Bolivia

1984 Summer Intensive Painting Course, Sherry Takala Studio, Haines, Alaska.