The CVAG Team

General Inquiries

580 Duncan Ave. Courtenay BC V9N 2M7
gallery and administration:


CVAG Staff Members

Sharon Karsten

Executive Director

Sharon_staff page

Sharon Karsten is a community organizer, academic and activist whose passion for community engagement through art is expressed through program development. Through various angles, Sharon’s work explores the role that professional art practices play in activating marginalized voices, and enabling new forms of critical awareness within communities. Sharon has been working with the Gallery in an administrative and leadership role since 2011, and has been pursuing a PhD through Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication – focusing on community video and small city cultural policy.

Angela Somerset


Angela Somerset is the Curator/Program Director at the Comox Valley Art Gallery. She is also an instructor at North Island College, teaching first year 3–D Foundation Studio and second year Sculpture and Integrated Practice. With a broad background in visual art, interdisciplinary art and media art practices, Angela has been working in the field of arts and culture, developing independent, collaborative and partnership projects since completing her MFA at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in 1993. Angela’s areas of research include installation art, site responsive and interactive projects, time-based practices, performance art, print and digital media, hybrid publication and documentation practices.  Angela’s interest in arts-based research practice provides opportunities to deepen conversations between diverse communities through concurrence at the gallery.

Sue Pyper

Shop Assistant

art-website copy

Originally from the UK, Sue graduated from Art & Design College in London, and after graduating went on to work for various major London advertising agencies specializing in logo design and branding. Latterly she had a successful career in production management in magazine publishing. Sue immigrated to Canada in 2000 and set up her own successful design company.  Sue is also a fine artist and award winning musician who enjoys getting her “social fix” working in the Gallery gift shop. Sue loves working with customers to help them find the perfect item.

Cassidy Gehmlich

Gallery Assistant

Cassidy_staff page

Cassidy Gehmlich is a Fine Arts Diploma student at North Island College. She joined the Comox Valley Art Gallery as a Gallery Assistant in the summer of 2016. In her artistic practice, she works in a wide variety of mediums, from painting to leatherworking; from printmaking to assemblage. Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, she finds great pleasure in exploring the beautiful terrain of Vancouver Island.

Denise Lawson

Curatorial and Program Assistant

Denise Lawson studied at North Island College Fine Arts Program and received her BFA from Emily Carr University in May 2016. She began her role as curatorial and program assistant at CVAG in October 2016. During her studies Denise curated the Raven Hall and Lewis Centre galleries, volunteered for CVAG, Muir Gallery, NIC Art Events and participated in exhbitions at NIC, Emily Carr University and the local community. At the core of her inter-disciplinary art practice is the belief that art is integral to the health of society. She is grateful to the BC Arts Council and the Comox Valley Art Gallery for supporting her development as an emerging artist.

Marlee Pestel

Gallery Assistant

Marlee Pestell is a painter and crafter working in many mediums from printmaking to mosaic, pottery and photography. Her artistic practice is greatly influenced by the beauty of British Columbia’s west coast trees, lakes, mountains and ocean views. Upon graduating from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver with her BFA in Visual Arts, she traveled extensively, learning from artisans around the world. Marlee moved to the Comox Valley in 2014 and became part of the CVAG team December of 2016.

Krista McAllister

Gallery Assistant

Krista graduated from North Island College with a Communication Design diploma in 2017, then immediately joined CVAG as a Gallery Assistant for a summer position. She loves creating in all kinds of mediums, but her expertise and her passion lies in photography, music, and graphic arts.

Brandon St-Laurent

Gallery Assistant

Brandon is a Fine Arts student at the North Island College, beginning his internship as a gallery assistant at CVAG this summer, 2017. Through various mediums and combinations, he likes to explore the reactions of the mind—as we know it in relation to metaphysical constructs and perceptions—as the main body of his work.

Lenore Lowe

Production and Communications Coordinator

Lenore is our Production and Communications Coordinator, acting as the CVAG hub: collecting information and production materials from artists and staff and funnelling it into the appropriate channels. She offers technical, administrative, community collaboration, and publication/communication support for artist, volunteers and staff. With an associate diploma in graphic and audio-visual design and a BA in liberal studies, Lenore is passionate about the arts and how they can bring healing at a personal, community and world level. She enjoys seeing how inquiry processes, though often uncomfortable, can bring down defences and facilitate greater understanding and acceptance.

Krista Tupper

Youth Media Project Team Leader

Krista Tupper is an experimental filmmaker, cultural activist and editor with a particular interest in producing media that shifts perspectives on problematic social norms and practises. She has her BFA in Film from SFU and has produced and directed multiple short films that have screened internationally. Part of her activism includes a lifelong commitment to providing access to the production of media to multiple youth from a wide range of backgrounds. She was one of the founding members of the Gulf Island Film and Television School and helped formulate a large part of the curriculum at the school. She was also the Education and Technical Coordinator at VIVO Media Arts and developed media education programs with Out on Screen, the Aboriginal Women’s Network and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, to name a few. Krista enjoys teaching and has worked closely with the Access to Media Education Society and mentored a variety of anti-racism and anti-homophobia videos aimed to end bullying in high schools. Krista has a lifelong passion for connecting youth with media making skills that uniquely positions them to critically engage in contemporary issues and create media that has the potential to shift the way key decision makers and the general public look at community issues or problems.

CVAG Board Members


Jasmin Badrin

Vice President

David Maclean


John Heintz

Recording Secretary

Carolyn Kirk-Albert

Board Members

Nicole Crouch

Bruce Curtis

Karver Everson

Jason Nemeth

Linda Perron

Renée Poisson

Tom Severson