by Bob Groeneveld
The ABCs of downtown Fort Langley are antiques, boutiques, and cafes… and of course, back to A again: art.
There’s art a short walk away from anywhere you are in Fort Langley.
It’s pretty much bracketed, however, by two community artist groups that work together to show their works in public galleries.
At one end of town, just as you enter from the south on Glover Road, is Fort Gallery.
At the other end, off to the right just before you walk across the railway tracks – tucked away in the park-like setting that surrounds the Langley Heritage Society’s historic CN train station – is the Fort Langley Artists Group’s FLAGStop Gallery.
The Fort Gallery, at 9048 Glover Rd., is a non-profit community collective of artists who encourage and support each other in their art.
The gallery recently featured photography by David Kimura and a collection of paintings, textiles, and garments by his wife, Suzanne Northcott.
Kimura’s photo exhibition, titled, Perimeter, highlights the inspiration that can be drawn from your immediate environment, while Northcott’s variety of expressions in Make Do follow a similar theme, exploring the possibilities of using or reusing materials readily at hand.
Currently at The Fort Gallery is an exhibition inspired by Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, called, Postcards from Canada, running Sunday, July 16. It features postcard-sized original art by artists “of all ages and stages” from across the country.
That’s followed by a juried show into August.
In addition to Kimura and Northcott, artists in the group include Edith Anderson, Alex Burton, Deborah Colvin, Susan J. Falk, Edith Krause, Kristin Krimmel, Claire Moore, Lisa Nickel, Don Portelance, Jo-Ann Sheen, and Zuzana Vasko.
Unconventional gallery space
As you wander through the village, keep your eyes open for shops offering glimpses of art of all kinds, including jewellery, stained glass, and precious (to some) knick-knacks.
Don’t miss Gasoline Alley’s offerings, and there are often outdoor art shows nestled between the shops on weekends.
For instance, at the Daily Scoop gelato bar, one wall is loaded with a fascinating collection of paint-by-numbers paintings. It’s not Rembrandt, but it’s attention-grabbing, and may bring back memories of younger days and dreams of becoming a great artist.
Just before you get to the tracks, turn right, where you’ll find the FLAGStop Gallery inside the Langley Heritage Society’s restored CN station.
The historic train station is a piece of art in itself, as is the restored caboose next to it – but inside the station you’ll find original art in a variety of media by the Fort Langley Artists Group.
Recently on display was the group’s Sunlight and Shadows show, and currently the Artists’ Choice show runs to July 30, followed by The Four Seasons show, Aug. 5 to Sept. 4.
The Fort Langley Artists Group includes Kim Bucholltz, Eileen Butler, Ela Cholewa, Margo Harrison, Felicity Holmes, Beverly Lawrence, Alison Philpott, Jeanie Shilton, Gail Simpson, Mary-Ann Snell, Gabrielle Strauss, Marguerite Whelton, Pat Weibelzahl, and Diane Zepeski. Visit fortlangleyartistsgroup.com.
A little off the beaten track
If you cross the tracks and head down Billy Brown Road, you’ll run into more special finds.
For instance, you can find Susan Galick working in oils and acrylic in her studio gallery at 23230 Billy Brown Rd. She is usually available in the mid-week days, but not on weekends. Visit susangalick.com.
Also on Billy Brown Road is the lelem Arts Cafe, where you can gaze at a few pieces of First Nation art while you enjoy Coast Salish cuisine. Visit lelem.ca.
Or cross the Haldi Bridge to McMillan Island, where artists Phyllis and Drew Atkins welcome visitors to their K’wy’i’y’e Spring Salmon Studio.
K’wy’i’y’e (pronounced K-why-ee-ya), is the First Nation word for “spring salmon.” First established in 2005 as a home-based business, the studio gallery opened in September 2012. Visit springsalmonstudio.com.
Back across the tracks and striking out to the east, the Langley Centennial Museum provides local artists with an opportunity to showcase their work in its Foyer Art Program. Visit museum.tol.ca/Exhibits/Foyer-Art-Exhibit.
Just a little further is the Fort Langley National Historic Site, where you’ll find there is still a culture of trade going on at the old Hudson Bay Co. fort. There the Sxwimele Boutique & Gift Shop features both First Nations designed products and Fort Langley memorabilia. Here you will find artwork, hand-carved jewelry, apparel, pine needle baskets, traditional blankets, decorative housewares, and more.
Like the Lelem Arts Cafe, it is owned and operated by Seyem’ Qwantlen Business Group, an operating subsidiary of Kwantlen First Nation.
If you’re willing to go a little further afield, just beyond walking distance from Fort Langley, Barbara Boldt accepts visitors by appointment to her Original Art Gallery & Studio in Glen Valley. Visit barbaraboldt.com.
Sadly, the recent passing of one of the most important figures in Fort Langley’s art scene, Brenda Alberts, has resulted in the closure of the Birthplace of B.C. Gallery, a prominent member of the Fort Langley business community, winner of numerous art and business centred awards, and home gallery for a number of local artists.