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Our Riverview lands, painted

Port Coquitlam's Art Focus Artists Association will have three cube towers in a new ArtConnect exhibit in Vancouver that focuses on Riverview Hospital.
Christine Malone and Pia Longstaffe
Christine Malone and Pia Longstaffe

There are scenes of heritage buildings, gardens and visitors on a guided tour.

There are fish in a pond and flowers in a field.

And there’s even an abstract image of a fortune teller’s glass ball, with a large tree inside.

These are images — painted in acrylics and oils — by 27 artists with Port Coquitlam’s Art Focus Artists Association, for a new exhibit that opens next month under the auspices of the Tri-City umbrella group, ArtsConnect, in Vancouver.

Christine Malone, one of the participating artists, said Art Focus was honoured to be invited to the group show, which opens Feb. 15 — three days after the final public consultation ends on the future of the Riverview Hospital lands.

Over the course of six months last year, the historic grounds took on new meaning for her group. Artists spent time researching online, visiting the site, studying details and sketching out what Riverview meant to them.

And when it came time for them to submit their canvasses last month, each told a different story but shared the same theme: Preserve Riverview.

The artists also jotted down their impressions of the 244 acres for the art installation: “Let’s Keep Them for Future Generations to Enjoy,” one artist noted while others stated, “Beauty of Nature Heals” and “A Road into Beauty.”

Their messages, along with the 12x12 inch panels and a history depicting the project, have been mounted onto three cube towers for the exhibit.

“We wanted to present a complete vision from an artist’s perspective,” Malone said, “and we all really bought into this project from the beginning because we believe the grounds are so special. We don’t want an urban sprawl there. Fifty years down the road, we don’t want a cement jungle.”

Pia Longstaffe, another PoCo artist, added, “It’s important to bring awareness of these grounds to show Riverview is a gem…. Open spaces are important around the world so if New York City can have Central Park, why can’t Coquitlam have Riverview? It makes sense.”

After the Vancouver exhibit ends March 5, Malone hopes to see the towers displayed in public spaces around B.C. They’re also expected to be shown at the Art Focus show at in PoCo, next January.