Rianne Keel, top, and Caitlin Legault, have started a new artist collective in Maple Ridge called Art Church. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge collective not afraid of controversy

Art Church will be holding their first show on Aug. 26

A new collective in Maple Ridge is hoping to push the boundaries of art without shying away from controversy.

Art Church is the vision of art model and face painter Caitlin Legault and fellow painter and burlesque artist Rianne Keel, who didn’t see any group that fit their style or perspective in this area.

The collective is all-inclusive group with no fees or rules that features low-brow artists and those that they feel are under-represented in the art world like indigenous artists, gay and lesbian artists and intergenerational art.

Currently the collective represents more than 50 artists from across the Lower Mainland and the Greater Vancouver Area, but mostly from Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows where Legault and Keel hail from.

Legault points out that they consider Art Church a religious organization because they feel that art is a religious experience and they are giving themselves the power to create. An idea that may be controversial to some.

But Legault is OK with being controversial.

“There’s a huge need for something like this,” said Legault about the collective that formed in January.

Legault has worked with many local arts groups and individual artists in the area as an art model for the past 15 years and says what makes Art Church different is that there is a very anti-establishment undertone to their group that is quite intentional.

“We kind of have a bit of a tongue-in-cheek cult vibe that we like because we know that inspires a lot of our peers that (are) just so sick of the establishment,” said Legault.

“And we are OK with being controversial even though we haven’t quite proven yet how controversial we can be. We’ll see how it goes,” laughed Legault.

The pair are hoping that being part of the collective will motivate their peers, the ones that need an excuse to finish that one piece, or the well-established ones that feel they don’t have anywhere they can feature their art. They also want to promote their own work.

Legault, a self-described workaholic, small business owner and professional face-painter, feels that both herself and Keel work so hard providing art for other people, “we don’t get paid for our own work,”

They welcome artists of all mediums and all skill sets.

Legault and Keel see the potential to grow the collective into something much bigger than themselves. But they want it kept local in the communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“So it’s something we get to do and our friends get to go to and it’s not always out in Vancouver because there are a million different things going on in Vancouver,” said Legault.

“The commute is too long,” chuckled Keel.

Their first event will be a free art show held in Legault’s backyard. The show is for those 16-years and over and will feature more than 50 artists including graphic and digital art, photography, fashion and wearable art, painting, a crafters market, a DJ and live music. And a pink Port-A-Potty.

“Right now the backyard is full and I am filling up the front yard,” said Legault.

They will also be raising money for the B.C. and Yukon division of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada through a 50/50, silent auction and a portion of some of the artists’ sales.

“All of the artists involved, all 50 of them have been asked to donate part proceeds or have an item or a percentage of their art going. It’s all voluntary,” explained Legault adding that the society is sending balloons and brochures and any donation more than $20 will get a tax receipt.

Refreshments including hot dogs and lemonade will also be by donation to the the MS Society of Canada.

Legault and Keel are still looking for artists for the show. Those interested can contact them at ArtChurch604@gmail.com.

The venue is wheelchair friendly and close to a bus stop.

“We just want to make art for a living. We want to make our own art for a living and we want to help support other people who want to do the same,” said Legault.

“We want to put Maple Ridge on the map.”

The pair also offer a space for artists to show their art on Instagram @ArtChurch604.

The free art show takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 26 at 12091 Greenwell St. in Maple Ridge.

For more information about Art Church check out their Facebook page.

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