Painting en plein air is part of the enjoyment of being a Maple Bay Painter. (submitted)

Painting en plein air is part of the enjoyment of being a Maple Bay Painter. (submitted)

Maple Bay Painters celebrate 50 years with special show

What started small has thrived and grown into a vibrant and welcoming group of more than 35 members.

The Maple Bay Painters are celebrating 50 years of creativity with a special show this week.

How did it all get started?

In 1968, six eager and enthusiastic women, under the guidance and leadership of Julie Porter (who came to be known as the Emily Carr of the Cowichan Valley) decided to meet weekly to enjoy painting together.

The members initially met in the church hall at Maple Bay, moving to the Maple Bay Rowing Club, followed by the Moose Hall. Since 2012, the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds have been their home.

What started small has thrived and grown into a vibrant and welcoming group of more than 35 members.

While the membership has changed over the years, the mission statement to “encourage, support and educate artists, with fairness and integrity” remains the same. Fifty years later, Maple Bay Painters has entered the age of technology and now hosts a Facebook page with up-to-date information on club activities and artists’ creations that is available to the public.

Who are these Maple Bay Painters?

Many of the group’s members are well-known artists and artisans, who actively show and sell their work at different venues on the Island and often take on a mentoring role within the club to share their expertise. It is not a quiet or serious club, although its members are serious about their art, which is as diverse as the artists themselves.

Past president, Diana Batcheler who joined in 2012 says it best: “I feel lucky to belong to a warm, supportive group, sharing not only ideas and giving encouragement but sharing a good laugh, too”.

At this years’ Art Show there will be photographs and memorabilia showcasing Maple Bay Painters’ journey. The history of this eclectic group of artists is well documented by minutes of meetings, letters and other records, detailing their shared love of art and creativity, and through their friendships, life’s ups and downs.

You can join the party and help the group celebrate this golden anniversary at St. Peter’s Church Hall, Duncan on Friday, Sept. 28 and Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 5.p.m.

As this is a special occasion, a reception on Friday, Sept. 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. will allow guests to mingle with the artists, have some refreshments, featuring the wines of Enrico Winery available for purchase, and live music.

You may even win a door prize of an original painting.