Norma Nickel’s “Nicomekl Triptych” (photographic print, 2018) is featured in a Surrey Art Gallery exhibit called “Praxis: Art from the Surrey Art Teachers Association.” (submitted photo/SAG)

MINTY: Thankfully, artists in a Surrey gallery show ‘do’ as well as teach

Also: Handel Society of Music sings and plays in Surrey this Saturday, May 19

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

It feels like summer already. We are watching gardens grow at alarming rates, and maybe feel more like heading to the beach or a lake instead of taming the backyard jungle. And maybe school kids are ready to bolt from classes lured outside by sunny days. Ah, to be a teacher at this time of year. Another school year is ending, and maybe many teachers are also looking forward to the summer break. There are lots of maybes. One thing for certain, teachers are an influential and important part of our society. Kudos go to Surrey Art Gallery for recognizing the importance of teachers – in fact, to those who teach art.

Teachers take the spotlight in a rare showcase of artworks at the gallery’s new exhibition of teachers’ artworks, titled Praxis: Art from the Surrey Art Teachers Association, which runs from May 11 to Aug. 18.

The gallery has often showcased student artwork, from elementary and secondary schools. Well, the “lesson plan” has been switched up to feature 18 local art teachers showcasing their own artistic talent through a display of rarely seen paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures.

I really hate the adage, ‘Those who can’t do, teach.’ Patently untrue. Here is your opportunity to get up close and personal with these talented artists – who just also happen to be teachers in our school system. They can “do” as well as teach.

The artworks explore diverse themes, as each artist demonstrates the reciprocal process of education; just as a child’s mind grows through education, so too can dedication to the betterment of others result in self-discovery and artistic development on the part of teachers. Through their myriad pursuits, the artists of Praxis demonstrate a lifelong commitment to their own learning and to the creative imagination.

Most of us have a creative side. Thank you to the teachers who encourage and stimulate creativity. It’s liberating, in a sense. As educators, these art teachers provide students with the tools to make connections with their curriculum and to learn about their world. For many kids, expressing themselves through works of art is essential to their personal development. Not everyone is born to be a math wiz, novelist or engineer. Exploring creative avenues develops minds and opens doors. I know this because Liane Davison tells us so.

• RELATED STORY: New ‘Interactive Art Museum’ pitched for Surrey’s City Centre area.

As part of Surrey Art Gallery’s mandate to support local artists, the facility regularly displays work from community organizations and elementary and secondary school students. Davison, the gallery’s director, has over many years contributed to my understanding of the visual arts. “Since the inception of the gallery in 1975,” she says, “we have been committed to providing opportunities for thousands of artists to see their work hung professionally in a public space, often for the first time.”

Given the challenges of finding exposure for their work, such an opportunity can serve to inspire artists in the pursuit of their practice.

The Surrey Art Teachers Association (SATA) connects local art teachers and students in the pursuit of excellence in visual arts instruction. SATA members support each other through the sharing of resources, opportunities, knowledge and ideas. This showcase at Surrey Art Gallery is truly an important recognition for these artist/teachers.

The gallery is internationally recognized for its award-winning programs, and is the second largest public art museum in Metro Vancouver. Founded in 1975, the gallery presents contemporary art by local, national and international artists, including digital and audio art. Its extensive public programs for children through to adults aim to engage the public in an ongoing conversation about issues and ideas that affect our communities, and to provide opportunities to interact with artists and the artistic process.

Admission is free at the gallery, located in Surrey Arts Centre, at Bear Creek Park. Hmmm, that combines summer-like outings with works of art. Nice.

Those creative people who aren’t visual artists just might make music their choice for finding their talents. The Handel Society of Music spring concert for choir and orchestra is this Saturday, May 19, at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 2350 148th St., Surrey. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. and includes “Lutheran Mass” by J.S. Bach, plus some Vivaldi and other excellent inspiring music. Soloists are Melanie Krueger (soprano), Megan Latham (alto), Adam Dyjach (tenor) and Andrew Greenwood (bass). The choir and orchestra are under the direction of Johan Louwersheimer.

Tickets are $25, or $20 for seniors/students; it’s free to attend for children under 16 years of age. Tickets are available from Tapestry Music, Christopher’s Gift Gallery and at the door, if you go early. Visit the website at for more information. New members are always welcome to join the choir for next season’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” Interested? Phone 604-202-7801. It is never too late to learn something new, or just enjoy a different experience. Our education in life can have many different teachers. Thank you, teachers, one and all.

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