Brian Croft, a painter who has made a name for himself bringing local history alive on canvas, is once again organizing the West Fine Art Show at the Cloverdale Rodeo this weekend. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

Langley artists play prominently in rodeo weekend

Langley’s Brian Croft again organizes the West Fine Art Show in Cloverdale.

Langley is once again playing prominently in this year’s Cloverdale Rodeo, but maybe not in ways average fairgoers expect.

Langley artist Brian Croft is putting his hometown front and centre at the 71st annual rodeo and country fair, by taking over the reigns of the West Fine Art Show.

Croft and fellow painter Murray Phillips started the West Fine Art Show seven years ago, as a way to bring together a group of “exceptional” artists from across Western Canada, he explained. Murray has chosen to step back this year.

They started hosting the show at Senator Gerry St. Germain’s home, moved to Thunderbird Show Park, and three years ago settled in Cloverdale.

Making the show part of the world-famous rodeo offered much more exposure – not only for the artists, but for the show’s charities, as well, Croft said.

Partial proceeds go to the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation, he said. But the charity that he’s most excited about is the C.H.I.L.D. Foundation.

For the fourth year running, a portion of the art sales will go to this charity, formed by Grace McCarthy and Red Robinson, to fund research for a cure to Crohn’s, especially in children, Croft explained.

“We call the show Remembering Jeff Robinson,” he elaborated, happy to do what he can to give a face to the disease.

Jeff, who died early from Crohn’s, is the son of Red Robinson – a long-time friend and admirer of Croft’s work.

Jeff was diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 10, and did not recover from his 26th and final surgery at the age of 33.

“Jeff’s battle with Crohn’s disease was over, leaving us to remember his bravery and his smile. He is dearly missed,” said his dad.

Like both Red and Croft, Jeff dabbled in art, so using art to help fundraise for this cause is an appropriate fit, Croft said.

“We intend to honour Jeff’s heroic battle with Crohn’s disease and at the same time join in the fight to support CH.I.L.D Foundation in its work to eradicate this terrible disease.”

Much of the art on display celebrates British Columbia’s western lifestyle, Croft said.

The show will feature 18 to 20 artists, including several others from Langley: Lalita Hamill, Joyce Trygg, Bryan Coombes, and Judy Vanderveen – plus Croft.

Likewise, Langley performing artists John Gilliat will use his guitar to offer a soothing ambiance for the weekend-long show.

And there will be an emerging young artist display featuring artwork from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary students – a few expected to be from Langley.

Like the rodeo, the art show runs Friday through Monday, May 19 to 22 in the Alice McKay building on the fairgrounds.

Rodeo and fair

The art show, while boasting strong Langley content, isn’t the only component of the weekend that spotlights Langley.

Former Langleyite Aaron Pritchett performs Sunday night at the Longhorn Saloon.

And thousands from this community are expected to take in the May long weekend tradition, complete with the Cloverdale Invitational Rodeo. Some of the best national and international athletes in the world will compete for $328,000 in cash prizes.

The country fair also boasts a Kidz Zone, ConeZone, and Agri Zone, lumberjack show, country music pavilion, freestyle round-up skateboarding competition, midway, and an outdoor living pavilion.

For a detailed schedule of event, performances, competitors list, or to buy tickets, people can visit www.cloverdalerodeo.com.