Robin Bandenieks works on a portrait of Nobel Prize winner Alva Myrdal — part of a series — inside the Artist in Residence Gallery at the former Coast Capital Savings building on Fraser Highway. It will remain open until Sept. 28.

Gallery artists banking on interest

Public is invited to browse temporary gallery inside former Coast Capital Savings building

Tucked away in what was once most likely a bank manager’s office, Langley artist Sheila Patzke is quietly dabbing paint on a colorful, if somewhat abstract, landscape.

She’s working with Yupo — a synthetic, water-proof paper — and it’s a technique that has taken a bit of getting used to, the artist admits as she applies water colour to the non-absorbant surface with a fine brush. At the same time, the ability to push the paint around on top of the paper  creates some rather interesting effects, she notes.

As one of about 20 artists in residence at the temporary gallery, which has been set up inside the  the former Coast Capital Savings building on the Fraser Highway one-way, Patzke is taking advantage of a bit of quiet time between visitors to focus on her work.

But the building is open to the public and visitors are not only welcome, but encouraged to wander in and look over the dozens of paintings hung on every available bit of wall space, examine handmade jewelry or just stop and chat with the artists while they create.

The former bank building is being leased by the Langley Arts Council until Sept. 28.

They, in turn, are renting out individual spaces to the artists.

There are so many corners to peek into and pieces to examine that a person can’t hope to see everything in one visit, but something that would be difficult — neigh, impossible — to miss are the half dozen life-sized fibreglass horses standing around the lobby.

Part of the Horsing Around Langley project, some of the pure white moulds will be moved to the studios of the artists who will design and paint the animals following themes of their choosing. Others will likely be painted on site.

Standing apart from the larger horses is one foal.

Already, LAC president Rosemary Wallace and fellow artist Lalita Hamill have set to work on a design which strives to encompass all of the arts. Included in the design, is a series of piano keys which will run along the foal’s arched neck.

Its hooves will be adorned with ballet slippers, the women reveal.

Once they’ve finished the piece, representing as many of the arts council’s member groups as possible, the women are planning to mount the colt on a small pull cart and take it to events as a means of advertising.

Normally, the LAC is based out of Michaud House on 204 Street — and it still is, said Wallace — but since the Artist in Residence Gallery opened in early August it has temporarily shifted its centre of operations.

It is open during the day, Monday to Friday, but Wallace is considering opening it on a Saturday to gauge response from people who aren’t able to come in during the work week. And it will definitely be open during the Langley Good Times Cruise In car show on Saturday, Sept. 8, she said.

For the artists, it’s a chance to share ideas and draw inspiration from one another.

“The artists love being with other artists,” said Wallace,

“Everybody feeds off everybody. There are no egos in this building.”

By late afternoon, clay artist Gail Simpson has tidied up her workspace for the day, but in the next cubicle over, painter Robin Bandenieks, continues to work on a portrait of Alva Myrdal — one of only 15 women who have been awarded a Nobel prize since the first ones were handed out in 1905.

The artist is depicting each of them in a collection of small oil paintings.

Bandenieks and Simpson say they are enjoying the opportunity to be around other artists. Response has been good, they say, but the women agree that in this case, at least, more is better.

Like Hamill and Wallace, they’d be thrilled to see more visitors coming through.

“There’s also room for a few more artists,” said Wallace, adding the gallery offers the perfect opportunity to introduce the LAC to potential members.

“We’ll make room.”