Not many people see the beauty in plants as they die off at the end of the season, but Chilliwack artist Lorrie Wager does – she’s attracted to the allure of nature year-round and then transfers what she sees onto canvas.
“It starts with a visual attraction and ends with a visceral experience,” Wager said.
Her art will be on display along with work by Vancouver artist Marion-Lea Jamieson in Abstract X2, the next exhibition being installed at the O’Connor Group Art Gallery in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre. It is presented by the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association (CVAA).
Wager’s work stems from nature and falls in between abstract and realism. She calls them abstracted still-lives and some are drawn from “sticking my head in [her neighbour] Mel’s tree.”
“You can identify a lot of the stuff in it, but it’s not realism,” she said.
She describes her paintings like the viewer is looking through a bird blind.
“I want people to feel that they’re part of it. Instead of standing back as an observer, you’re closer to it and inside it.”
Wager started her arts career a little later in life. At the age of 30, she went to school at the Alberta College of Art. She then worked as an arts programmer at both The ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge and the Vancouver Park Board.
Throughout her profession, she always had a studio to keep her busy.
When she retired and moved to Chilliwack two years ago, she converted her loft into her new creative space. She recalls how eager she was to start painting when she moved into her new home by the Vedder River.
With supplies still packed away in boxes, Wager grabbed the first “canvas” she came across – fabric interfacing.
All of her pieces that will be in Abstract X2 are painted on interfacing, a type of material used in between two layers of fabric – such as shirt collars – to stiffen parts of a garment. When the paint touches the interfacing, it cannot be controlled as it bleeds out in any direction.
Some of the finished interfacing will be hung unframed, allowing them to move and flow freely, while others have been glued to wood panels.
Her paintings of detailed bits of nature include wild fires through lavender, blueberry bushes and cherry trees.
“They’re beautiful at any stage of their life cycle,” she said of one piece featuring small, round tansy flowers.
Wager is drawn to textures and shapes. Her multimedia pieces include bits of tracing paper for flowers and tiny balls of embroidery thread for berries.
But the first thing that catches her eye is the colour of things outside. Fellow artist Marion-Lea Jamieson agrees.
“We have the same philosophy on colour,” Wager said.
Although the two have never met in person, their works complement each other well. The CVAA saw the similarities in their work and paired the two of them together after they both applied for the call for entry.
Jamieson uses large brushes loaded with oil paint to create a sense of colour and form flowing in time and space. Areas of colour create recognizable or improvisational forms of abstraction.
“While my current work has a conceptual motivation, I also want to communicate the joy of colours, lines and forms depicted in oil paint to communicate at a visceral rather than an intellectual level,” Jamieson said.
Abstract X2, featuring the work of Chilliwack artist Lorrie Wager and Vancouver artist Marion-Lea Jamieson will be on display at the art gallery in the Cultural Centre from Jan. 4 to Feb. 8. Opening reception is on Saturday, Jan. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Admission is free.
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