Members of the Pacifica Never Too Late Art Collective with their exhibited art at Newton Cultural Centre. (submitted photo: Carla Maskall)

COLUMN

MINTY: It’s never too late to create, as these Surrey seniors show

Pacifica Never Too Late Art Collective members are ‘late bloomers’ with works shown at Newton gallery

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

Winter isn’t yet over and here we are searching for those first crocus and daffodil blooms. Spring break approaches, and high school students are already facing decisions about what to do after graduation. Make life decisions now, before it is too late! Such pressures. Decide now what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Well, a group of seniors living at Pacifica Retirement Residence in South Surrey has a message for everyone: it’s never too late! The Pacifica Never Too Late Art Collective is made up of “late bloomers” – all over 80 years of age. This group meets once a week, as do many artist clubs in our community, and some had no prior experience in the arts. It is never too late to take up a new challenge, like painting with acrylics.

Take Art Miller, for example. He joined the group on his 90th birthday. Good for you, Art. The Never Too Late group was founded by Betty McJannett and is facilitated by artist Carla Maskall with some assistance from Shelia Symington. Carla is a firm believer that art can improve the overall health and wellbeing of seniors. Her background is in both art and nursing, so she does have the credentials.

It is just common sense, though. Not that we all use a great deal of common sense in our daily lives, but just look at the results. Social networks, lowering stress levels and improving one’s sense of self is important at any age. Connecting with your inner creative self will not solve age-related health issues, but it does offer a distraction, and a sense of self-worth.

The Pacifica Never Too Late Art Collective has an art exhibition at Newton Cultural Centre until the end of February. Yep, an actual exhibition. That’s got to make you feel good! Take a peek at the artworks online, at artscouncilofsurrey.ca. You may well love Art Miller’s boat on a bay, or the charcoal renderings of Ron Fenwick, whose work is among my favourites. Most of these exhibited pieces are small, so will fit anywhere, and they are for sale. Visit the Arts Council of Surrey’s website now, before it is too late – even though it is never too late to create!

I think our city has a bushel basket full of artists and creative people. Many would love to make a living at their art form. How do you promote your personal genius and identify your own personal brand? Well, my creative friends, the Arts Council of Surrey is here to help. The organization’s Creative Conference 2020 is titled “Promotion 101.” Hosted by the arts council and co-sponsored by the City of Surrey, this conference may be just what you need for getting into spring!

This free event is on Saturday, March 14 at Newton Cultural Centre; visit artscouncilofsurrey.ca for event details and to register, before the conference fills up. Limited space is available. The keynote address is by Liane Davison, Manager of Culture for the City of Surrey. Love Liane – she will inspire you as well. The rest of the conference will introduce the 5 Ps of Product, Price, Promotion, Place and People. Individual workshops will focus on websites, database collection, communications, social media and press-ability (get your promotion in the Now-Leader, for example). Do’s and Don’ts will be part of the focus. My take is: DO register now and DON’T leave it too late. It’s free. Amazing.

Here is another fun art outing: Surrey Art Gallery and Surrey Art Gallery Association invite art fans of all knowledge and experience levels to join them for a bus tour of contemporary art on Wednesday, March 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s for those aged 16 and over, and the cost is $39. Participants can register online at surrey.ca/artgallery under Gallery Events.

The group will meet in the morning at Surrey Art Gallery for an orientation over coffee. They will then join curatorial assistant Suvi Bains and interpretive programmer Cecily Nicholson to visit galleries and artist-run centres in Abbotsford, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam. Sounds like a very nice scenic tour!

First stop is Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford , then on to ACT Art Gallery in Maple Ridge to see paintings and ceramics in From Barn to Table. After lunch at a local food court (or feel free to bring a packed lunch), the group will move on to Art Gallery at Evergreen in Coquitlam.

I am not a visual artist. I use words and take dance classes, and occasionally appear in a community theatre production. But here’s the thing: There is always time to take on new challenges, do something different, expand horizons. Board the bus for a day trip. It’s never too late.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email: melminty@telus.net.

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