Crofton Art Group members among those getting ready to celebrate a landmark 65th anniversary, front row from left, include: Beckie Hutchinson, Mary Oscar, Jacquie Simons, Levina Roach and Pam Dyke. Back: Sue Bosecker, Diana Binks, Jim Malo, Susan Law, Fay Hydes. The artwork in front of them will be available as a door prize at the anniversary show and sale. It was done by Carol Rettig, who passed away in March. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Crofton Art Group celebrating its landmark 65th anniversary

Members immersed in social aspects as much as painting

The Crofton Art Group is one of those rare organizations that has stood the test of time.

It’s coming up to 65 years since the formation of the group and it’s still going strong today, thanks to its 45 dedicated members who are excellent artists in their own right and great companions for one another.

“What our group is the best at we encourage each other,” said Mary Oscar, who’s been a member since the late 1980s. “We’ve been a really good social club.”

“The one thing I like about our group when we get someone new, no matter what the calibre of their painting, we encourage them very much,” added Le Roach, another member for 30+ years.

“I think my painting has improved with the guidance of everyone else,” said Diana Binks, one of the more recent members within the group.

The quality of the work and camaraderie within the group will all be on display during the milestone 65th anniversary show and sale. It takes place Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Crofton Seniors Centre, 1507 Joan Ave. down by the ferry terminal – not to be confused with the Crofton Community Centre where some people have wound up going for previous shows.

“There will be quite a display of very beautiful artwork and all our artists will be on hand to discuss anything you might want to know,” noted Binks.

When members assemble, there’s more on the agenda than just painting. “And we’ve solved a lot of the world’s problems,” joked Oscar.

The Crofton Art Group is the oldest group of its kind in the Cowichan Valley, founded in 1954 by Eloise Kearney who came to Crofton at the end of The Second World War from England with her husband, a retired merchant marine captain. She had studied art at the Pratt Institute in New York.

Just three years later, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky but kept in touch with the Crofton Art Group and made a return visit to stay with the Worsleys, Longs and Stanleys, who helped comprise the beginnings of today’s group.

The first sessions were held in their homes, but eventually the small select group needed a permanent meeting place and established the Anglican Church Hall in Crofton as its headquarters.

Over the years, many fine and well-known artists have belonged to the club.

The group meets every Wednesday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Seniors Centre. Business meetings are on the last Wednesday of each month except July, August and December.

Regular outings are complemented by special lessons or workshops to broaden skills. Group members also leave the indoors behind on occasion during the summer months to do some landscape painting in the great outdoors.

All mediums of art are featured – oils, acrylics, you name it.

The Crofton Art Group also has a show in the fall.

The 60th anniversary five years ago was marked by a display kiosk by the ferry terminal. For the 65th, there are already banners prominently placed on the new street poles in Crofton.

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