Painting by Melanie Wongs at the first Ashcroft Art Club art show in 1968.

In 1968, an Ashcroft Art Show was an idea whose time had come

Local artists got together to form a club in 1967, and a year later a show was born

The Ashcroft Art Club’s annual show and sale began in 1968, and is celebrating its 52nd year this year, but the origins of the show go back to October 1966, when three friends—Moreah Franes, Melanie Wongs, and Delores (Dolly) Lowe—ran into each other in Ashcroft and began chatting about their desire to paint.

Lowe had seen some of Franes’ paintings, and suggested that the women get together and have Moreah teach them. Inspired, they went out and bought paints and “How To” books, and started painting their hearts out over the course of the winter. “We thought we were something special—real masters,” says Lowe.

During this time a new minister arrived to look after the parish at St. Alban’s Anglican Church, and his English wife—Wilma Lloyd-Davies—was a painter. She began to instruct the small group of artists, and gradually other members of the St. Alban’s congregation, including Hazel Tuohey and Barnie Craggs, joined. Interest in the group grew, and others—including Sheila Tofin, Coraleen Bayes, Gertrude Lawn, Marina MacLeod, Laura Tuohey, Mike Tofin, and Louise Tofin—came into the fold.

READ MORE: ‘Accidental artist’ can’t wait to get down to some serious painting

The group met weekly at St. Alban’s Church Hall, and Lowe says that they painted furiously, as if there was no tomorrow. The idea of an art show, at which members of the group and other artists in the area could display their work, was discussed, and the first Ashcroft Art Club art show took place at St. Alban’s Hall on May 16, 1968.

According to an article in The Journal on May 9, 1968, that first show also featured a “Paint-In” on the lawn of the vicarage next door to the church. “Do you think that all modern art is for the birds?” the article asked. “Do you think you could paint pop art or landscapes as well as the professionals? Here, at last, is the chance you’ve been waiting for. Come to the Ashcroft Art Club’s ‘PAINT-IN’.”

The article noted the upcoming show, stating that the artwork of club members, as well as local students, would be displayed, and described the Paint-In: “Viewers may be stimulated to active participation in the Paint-In. Wall-to-wall canvas, paint, brushes and other supplies will be waiting for the application of imaginative ideas.” A follow-up article in the May 23, 1968 issue noted that “The Paint-In held by a local group of enthusiasts was well attended.”

READ MORE: Ashcroft’s Laura Hedges comes from family of artists

You can help ensure that this year’s art show—which does not, alas, feature a Paint-In—is equally well attended. The show runs from April 26 to 29 at St. Alban’s Church Hall, 401 Brink Street, Ashcroft, with an opening gala (adults only) from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 26, and regular hours from noon to 5 p.m. April 27–29. Admission is by donation, and all attendees have an opportunity to vote on their favourite works in this year’s show.

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Painting by Moreah Franes at the first Ashcroft Art Club art show in 1968.

Painting by Dolly Lowe at the first Ashcroft Art Club art show in 1968.

Painting by Wilma Lloyd-Davies at the first Ashcroft Art Club art show in 1968.

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