CSS Collects Artworks from Alumni

Spotlight on Chilliwack alumni artists this weekend

Artwork from Chilliwack secondary alumni is going on display this weekend just in time for the Hello, Goodbye Mass Reunion.

A special catalogue of artwork from Chilliwack senior secondary alumni is going on display this weekend just in time for the Hello, Goodbye Mass Reunion.

It’s the first time this body of artwork has been shown together since 2001 when it was part of an exhibition at City Hall, said Fred Granzow, a retired CSS teacher of photography and graphic design.

“It was something that needed to be done.”

CSS Collects Artworks from Alumni is both the name of the high-quality printed record of the images, and a special one-day exhibition of the artwork in the old Chilliwack senior secondary art room on March 2.

“The idea is to showcase the artworks properly now,” said Granzow. “It’s more than just for this weekend’s high school reunion. It’s to solidify what was, for posterity and history.”

The now retired teacher started at CSS in the turbulent mid-70s and the art department was bustling and very vibrant. For many of the talented alumni who would go on to make a living by their art, Chilliwack was their crucible while they attended high school.

“I know a lot of these people still; their joys, their tragedies. It’s not something off in the distance. It’s right here.”

The multi-media collection includes the varied work of at least 15 former CSS students, including Chris Woods, Tim McAlpine, and Deborah Turney-Zagwyn. There are also pieces by Gord Siemens, Fred Buchwitz, Ron Huebner, Jim Weins, Willie Waring, Ted Bergen, Heather Cameron, Dale Switzer, Robin Konstabaris, Steve Wimbush, and Linda Siemens.

They were part of an art program at the school, dating back to the 70s, that showcased the work of successful CSS grads who were making their living as professional artists.

“It was Jerry Kaufman who got this program started,” he said.

The idea was to forge a connection between the working art world and student artists.

“People need to know that Chilliwack senior was a fine arts school without ever having been officially designated one,” Granzow said.

Hanging the art in the school was a burst of inspiration for students who would walk by it every day. They petitioned student councils of the day for funding, and purchased alumni art whenever they could.

CSS Art department chair Marilyn Connelly has been an “incredible” source of support since Granzow approached her with the idea. She has been protectively guarding the cache of historic art from theft, damage or vandalism, he said.

For 2013 they also produced a glossy, printed booklet of the art pieces, which will eventually be proudly displayed in the new school building.

The booklet was put together in InDesign with the help of CSS Fine Arts students Tamara Otermat and Kelli Whitehead, Granzow said.

“I think this is marvelous,” he added. “Twenty years ago we couldn’t imagine producing a book this professional. It was done in a week.”

Many of the alumni, teachers and staff who will be touring the building on Saturday will be dropping by the old art facility.

“Hopefully they will get to see this very special exhibition.”

CSS Collects Artworks from Alumni, can be viewed in the old art room at CSS on Saturday, March 2.