Fort Langley collective marks 10 years

The Fort Gallery is not an obtrusive part of the landscape, but what goes on inside does tend to be ground-breaking even if the building and facade are not. 

It began in 2005 with a group of emerging artists in the Fort area to encourage and support individuals’ artistic development and exploration. 

The gallery has helped to launch many careers through mentoring, providing exhibition space, offering critiques, and sharing work processes and learnings. 

More than 50 artists from the Langleys neighbouring communities have belonged to the gallery through the past 10 years. It was recognition of the anniversary of the collective that led to the upcoming Full Circle Exhibition. 

The exhibition features nine alumni artists who began with the gallery and now will be coming back to show. They are Nancy Crawford, Richard Forbes, Suzanne Northcott, Terry Nurmi, Susan Falk, Fiona Moes Pel, Myrna Pfeifer, Donna Usher, and Betty Spackman. 

“It was an awesome experience being part of the gallery because one of the things I think is the best aspect of it is they give you a safe and supportive environment to try out new ideas and new directions in your art-making,” Crawford said. 

Creating discussions and connecting is important to Crawford and her fellow artists. It was part of the reason she chose to sign up for the exhibition. 

“It was the opportunity to reconnect with past members, to share some recent projects that I’m working on, and I also knew [some of the artists who had already signed up and are good friends],” noted Crawford.

Crawford works with an ancient medium known as encaustic painting which is organic and uses wax.

“Some of the most famous encaustic paintings are over 3,500 years old,” she said. “They look as fresh and beautiful as the day they were painted.”

She will display her Detritus series. 

“I’m an avid collector of what I call the minutia of life,” she noted. “It’s not the object itself that’s meaningful, it’s the meaning we attach to things. It’s a parallel really of life.”

Beyond the connections formed between artists, there have been endeavours that link the gallery to the community with activities like the annual Blue Plate Special Gala and plein air painting at local festivals. 

The Full Circle Show offers opportunities to meet alumni artists and see their work until Feb. 15. 

“There will be a lot of good dialogue,” Crawford said.

The gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday noon to 5 p.m.

An opening reception is set for Jan. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. 

First Thursdays

Another event will honour the location’s 10th anniversary, and this one will be ongoing. 

First Thursdays open the gallery up to anyone who wants to enjoy the free events designed around experiencing and supporting the arts. These will be held, as the name implies, on the first Thursday of each month. 

The series will host visual artists, writers, poets, and magicians who all plan to  share their talents and engage in discussion. 

The inaugural First Thursday will be on Feb. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m., featuring Fort Langley poet Susan McCaslin, who will read from her memoir: Into the Mystic, My Years with Olga. 

McCaslin has launched her book in Vancouver and in Toronto, but this event will be her “hometown launch,” she noted. 

“It’s my first and only memoir,” McCaslin said. “Mostly, I’m known for poetry. I’m the featured reader of the evening together with the artists.”

The book is described by McCaslin as being of mixed genres including memoir, poetry, creative non-fiction, and other forms of writing. 

Joining McCaslin will be Nancy Crawford, who will discuss the encaustic painting method. 

“I just love the bringing together of the different art forms,” McCaslin said.

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