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WATER'S EDGE: Those who can, put their art on display at Evergreen

Perhaps Keith Rice-Jones has the most interesting piece.

Perhaps Keith Rice-Jones has the most interesting piece.

The retired Port Moody secondary school art teacher's six-foot-tall, 250-pound ceramic sculpture, titled The French Connection, stands smack-dab in the Evergreen Cultural Centre (ECC) gallery - a grey mass that demands attention, not to mention comment.

Or maybe it's Joanne Howey's series of 10 paintings, drawings and mixed media that draws the eye. The James Park elementary school librarian's work is an interpretation of a late 1960s photograph of her younger sisters.

No matter which way you look, there's plenty to take in at Those Who Can, Teach!, a collection of more than a hundred artworks by teachers - active and retired -administrators and staff in School District 43. The exhibit, which opens today (Friday) to coincide with ECC's Water's Edge Festival, features landscape and abstract paintings, drawings, basketry, photography, multimedia, quilts and clay masks; there's even jewellery created by Teresa Grandinetti, president of the Coquitlam Teachers' Association.

"It's not all art teachers who took part," said exhibit organizer Mike McElgunn, the fine arts department head at Gleneagle secondary in Coquitlam, adding, "This is a celebration of a common link that we have as educators."

McElgunn, who has a ceramic lantern in the show, put out a call for interest last June after Evergreen approached the district's high school art specialists. In the past, the SD43 teachers' exhibit ran at Place des Arts every other year but stopped about six years ago as organizers there wanted to make the event juried, he said.

This year's exhibit conveniently follows Emerging Talent XIV, an annual display of art pieces from Grade 12 students in SD43 that recently closed at ECC.

Don Portelance, a retired Centennial art teacher who works with creatively gifted teens at Place des Arts, has had his works in previous SD43 teachers' exhibits. For this display, he submitted two new paintings that have never been shown publicly. "I've been retired for 17 years now and I'm just happy to get invited back to things like this," he said Monday while taking a peek at his colleagues' work.

McElgunn also took a look at the submissions ready to be hung and remarked on their quantity and quality. "It's just something that we do in our spare time and I'm so impressed at what I see," he said.


• The opening reception for Those Who Can, Teach! is on Sunday, Feb. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way), Coquitlam. The art gallery's hours are extended for the Water's Edge Festival from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, and noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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