Claudia Lohmann’s Observations, Dennis Brown’s Ghosts from my Past and Penny Grant’s Seeing Brightly (cropped, from left) are among the paintings in the upcoming exhibition About Us by Art 16 at the Nanaimo Arts Council. (Photos courtesy Art 16)

Abstract group Art 16 makes Nanaimo debut

Works will be exhibited at Nanaimo Arts Council gallery Jan. 10-31

The Nanaimo Arts Council gallery’s first exhibition of 2019 is the Nanaimo debut for a new group of mid-Island abstract painters.

Ladysmith’s Dennis Brown formed Art 16 just over a year ago with a group of students from his abstract painting workshop at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery. Last October the group showed together for the first time for a week in Ladysmith and in January they’re coming together for the second show at the Nanaimo Arts Council gallery. An opening reception takes place on Jan. 10.

Brown describes Art 16 as a loose, diverse group of artists hoping to help educate people in the process of abstraction.

“A lot of people have difficulty trying to understand what we’re doing and I think it’s up to us as artists to help educate people about what the process is all about,” he said. “And each of us are on our own path doing different styles … and that’s what I encourage them to do. We’re not doing the same thing over and over again each time. I expect to see progress in myself as well as the other 15.”

Those other 15 artists are Ruth Barker, Mark Alan Davis, Josee Duffhues, Penny Grant, Claudia Lohmann, Cim MacDonald, Jim Montgomery, Deborah Nicol, Julie Ritter, Paulette Roscoe, Ellen Stebb, Barry Strasbourg Thompson, Fran Wilgress and Joanie Winnitoy.

“It’s very motivating if you go with so many different artists in one show because you see really different styles and it makes you want to paint more and explore more,” Lohmann said. “Because I think none of us want to stay where we are. We all want to get better and improve our work.”

Brown said in his first statement to his workshop class, he explained that while realist painting comes from outside, abstract painting comes from within.

“Reality is what you’re doing when you’re doing landscapes and you’re trying to replicate what’s out in front of you,” he said. “Abstraction is from the inside-out, so it depends what colour you feel like today, what kind of mood you’re in today that will affect your work.”

Brown said his group is “pushing the envelope of abstraction.” He has loose plans and ambitious visions for what he would like to see come of this new collective.

“They’re very good people to work with. They all pitch in and do all of the jobs we have to on this exhibit and they’re interested in doing more,” he said. “So, in other words, we’re looking beyond the horizons here of Ladysmith-Nanaimo into Victoria, into Vancouver and ‘dream big’ is what I’ve told them. ‘Don’t limit yourself.’ That if we ever get to Toronto or New York someday that would really be neat, but ‘don’t stop dreaming’ is really what it’s all about.”

WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for About Us by Art 16 takes place at the Nanaimo Arts Council gallery, 8 Wharf St., on Jan. 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. Show continues until Jan. 31.

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