On the walls of Vicuña Art Studio and Gallery, there are bold and bright paintings that mimic the work of icons from Matisse to Picasso.
Just like a proud mother, Maria Daley beams as she looks at two 16×20 paintings by Gord Baird.
“He’s like Chagall,” exclaims Daley.
When you looks closely at Baird’s work – one painting titled Sister – Strolling Companions and the second named Melody – Young and Old – you can see why Daley invokes the name of the famous Belorussian-born French artist, whose work drew on emotional association rather than traditional pictorial fundamentals.
Just like Chagall, Baird’s paintings are whimsical and childlike, but full of feeling.
“Everyone is unique,” Daley says of the 50 students whose work is featured in Spring into Summer.
Daley has been using art to transform the lives of people with developmental disabilities since she opened Vicuña in 2008.
The studio is a creative outlet for individuals from the Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living. She offers artistic instruction tailored to the skill level of each participant in her class.
She has blind students and others who paint while seated in wheelchairs.
Vicuña has since relocated from its location on Dewdney Trunk Road to Kingston Street, where it is housed with other programs offered by the Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living.
The new location has allowed Daley to take on new students and a new instructor, Gina Miller, a Vancouver-based visual artist.
At first, Daley admits it was difficult to get the now-seasoned artists to paint. The students at first were timid.
“It was all about trust,” she says. “You wait for the teaching moment.”
Colourful floral motifs created by Vicuña artist Brenda Powers were recently purchased by a Vancouver company, printed on 16 huge boards of Plexiglas and now stand in the lobby of a building at Bentall Centre.
Other paintings are sold at shows, with the artists receiving 60 per cent of the proceeds. There have even been bidding wars for some work.
“It’s all about the feeling of the brush and how to move the brush on canvas,” says Daley. “Once they get that, they’re on the other side and nothing else matters.”
Artists featured in the show: Cathy Gunnewig, Petra Gonzales, Bonnie McPherson, Brenda Powers, Jodi Main, Cathy Browne, Brittany Tunstell, Marjan Ishani, Nicole Locke, Doug Lester, Brent Wilson, Michel Poirier, Alana Girvan, Pamela Brown, Jenny Ainsworth, Ed Marriott, Farrah Desjarlais, Melissa Friesen, Alli Lemmi, Eva Mascaa, Natasha Brayshaw, Tate Ormiston, Tyler Burton, Jessica Darlington, Gord Baird, Darren Lang, Scott Sanderson, Angela Mounce, Jessie Edgington, Sheri Greenwood, Calvin Andrew, Janet Jay, Calum Matheson, Michelle Harding and Karla Sarradet.
Spring into Summer runs Thursday, June 12 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The studio is located at No. 1 – 14491 Kingston Street in Maple Ridge. Info: 604-465-7526. Ceramics created by artists from PotterWorks Studio will be on display.