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FLAG goes to the farm

Langley artist Susan Galick will participate in her first exhibit with the Fort Langley Artists Group, when Farms of the Valley opens on May 12 at the CN Rail gallery; below: Alison Philpott strives to bring photographic representation to the page while working with pencil. - Keith GALICK/submitted photo
Langley artist Susan Galick will participate in her first exhibit with the Fort Langley Artists Group, when Farms of the Valley opens on May 12 at the CN Rail gallery; below: Alison Philpott strives to bring photographic representation to the page while working with pencil.
— image credit: Keith GALICK/submitted photo

After spending the spring cultivating its membership, a growing Fort Langley Artists Group is prepared to show off its first crop of original artwork for the new season.

The Farms of the Valley exhibit opens FLAG’s 2012 season on Saturday, May 12, with a selection of paintings, sculptures and photos documenting the region’s rich agricultural history.

“It’s a reminder of our roots — of why Langley Township is even here,” said painter Robin Bandenieks who has been a FLAG member since 2006.

“It’s a reminder that this should be the country.”

This month’s farm-related show will be followed by a pair of artist’s choice exhibitions, explained Bandenieks. These will offer the newest members a chance to show off their individual strengths.

FLAG newcomer Susan Galick — one of several artists to join the group this spring — has tended toward urban street views, still life and maritime scenes all painted in a contemporary impressionist style. But her own roots are elsewhere.

“I’m a total country girl,” she said. “I’ve been gardening organically for 40 years.”

And, until recently when she moved into a condo at Bedford Landing in Fort Langley, she’d always lived someplace where she could bury her fingers in the earth, grow her own flowers and fresh produce and calm her mind.

“When you’re painting, you don’t think about anything else; gardening is the same way,” Galick said.

After her husband of 39 years passed away in 2010, Galick, who began painting in 2004, signed up for lessons at the Neighbourhood Art School in Walnut Grove under the tutelage of former FLAG member Carmel Clare. It was Clare who encouraged Galick to check out the Fort Langley group.

Galick plans to contribute a couple of pieces to her first FLAG show — one of a barn with a rusting roof, and another of an old farm building that is in disrepair and falling down.

After driving all over rural Langley and Abbotsford looking for inspiration, she found her agricultural muse, so to speak, while she was going about her daily routine.

“I was picking up my grandson and I saw this farm across the street. It struck me, just the way the puddles were. I thought, ‘That’s the one.’”

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Alison Philpott’s search was a bit more deliberate — taking her directly to her friends’ hobby farm, where she’d planned to sketch their iconic red barn.

When she got there, she discovered the building had been maintained in such pristine condition that it didn’t actually interest her.

“It was in too good shape,”  said the Langley City resident, who relocated from the TriCity area five years ago.

“I wanted something old and scratched up.”

On the way back to the house, Philpott noticed an old fashioned milk can resting against a stone wall.

“This churn was just sitting there; no one had noticed it before. I thought, ‘There’s my character,’” she said.

She drew it in graphite pencil, taking pains to reproduce the rusted and dented can as precisely as possible, to give the viewer a sense of what it might feel like to run their fingers over the metal.

It was one of her instructors who told her to look closely at fabric, wood, carpet or trees and to try to determine what it is about the surfaces that tell you before you’ve touched them how they’re going to feel.

Although she’s dabbled in paints, Philpott who, like Galick, joined FLAG earlier this spring, found she could only get the level of control she desired from pencils.

“My aim is photo realism,” she explained. “I get lost in the details, I love the details.”

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The Farms of the Valley exhibit will remain on display from May 12 to June 24. The CB Rail gallery, located on the northwest corner of Glover Road and Mavis Avenue in Fort Langley, is open on weekends and holiday Mondays.

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