Four friends who met during an art class at ElderCollege have come together to bring a group show to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.
Visions and Perspectives – by Chilliwack artists Christine Newsome, Betty Meiszner, Vicki Ray and former Chilliwackian Dianne Hultgren – is an exhibition at the O’Connor Group Art Gallery in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre from May 18 to June 25.
It was about 10 years ago when the four met. Newsome was teaching a mixed-media collage art class at ElderCollege and the other three were her students.
Ray said she took the class because she had a “thirst for learning.”
“(Art) is something that’s continued throughout my life,” she said. “When I was in high school, my art teacher was a pivotal point in my life.”
Newsome admits that after a few years of teaching the same course, she got tired of it. But she and many of her students really enjoyed making art together.
“There were a lot of ladies who were quite enthusiastic about continuing, so we formed the Chilliwack Collage Collective which went for a few years and in the end, we four just kept on going,” Newsome said.
She taught at Vedder Middle School for years and retired in 2009. Meiszner also taught in the Chilliwack School District as an elementary teacher and vice principal for 25 years, and Hultgren taught here for about 35 years as well.
Although Hultgren moved to Vancouver Island a number of years ago, she’s stayed in close contact with the other three artists who get together in-person every week at Meiszner’s home studio. Hultgren often joins via Zoom.
Why do they work so well together?
“I think it’s because there’s no competition between us,” Ray said.
She has been a member with other art groups in the past where she said sometimes she would feel threatened.
But that’s not the case with the four members of the Chilliwack Collage Collective where they constantly motivate each other and ask for opinions and critique.
“I think it’s a feeling of encouragement,” Newsome said.
“We’re also all pretty strong in what we want to do,” Meiszner added. Even when she gets suggestions from the others on how to change something in her artwork, she said she still feels like she can go ahead and complete her piece the way she intended.
This is the second show the four women have done together. Back in 2017, their show Fragments was on display at the Cultural Centre featuring all mixed-media collage art. Visions and Perspectives will showcase a wider variety of mediums.
Meiszner does “a little bit of everything” when it comes to her work.
“I’m one of those jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none,” she said.
She prints her own photos on materials such as muslin and tissue paper, makes journals, does encaustic art (pieces that are covered in a coating of wax), and eco-dyes paper where she sticks plants between pieces of paper, then boils it, dries it and irons it.
Both Ray and Newsome will have mixed-media pieces in the show.
“My art tends to be a bit of humour and sometimes it tells a story,” said Ray, who uses acrylic paints, paper, found objects and “whatever fits.”
Newsome, whose inspiration comes from history, usually starts her artwork with a colour and then adds paper on top.
“My work is really instinctive. I have no idea what I’m going to be doing when I start,” she said. “It’s just playing with things.”
Diane Hultgren’s realistic landscapes and still-life pieces are drawn from her love of nature and sun-filled days growing up in the B.C.’s Okanagan. She uses pastels and acrylics.
Newsome said unlike Fragments, where all the artwork was mixed-media collage, it was difficult to find a common thread with Visions and Perspectives.
But there is one obvious connection.
“The fact is that we are all friends… and it’s art,” she said.
Visions and Perspectives by Christine Newsome, Betty Meiszner, Vicki Ray and Dianne Hultgren is at the art gallery in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre (9201 Corbould St.) from Wednesday, May 18 to Saturday, June 25. Opening reception is Saturday, May 21 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.