Art bends and blends in two-day graffiti-inspired show

A trio of visual artists linked by Highway 101 are planning an exhibition shaped by the surprising serendipity that stems from reaching across disciplines. 

Colourful Collaboration, a two-day exhibition in Elphinstone opening on Sept. 8, will include works by Allan O’Meara, Charly Mithrush and Donna Stewart. 

During a late-autumn trip to London, Paris and Berlin last year, O’Meara became fascinated with the graffiti art illuminating urban surfaces. O’Meara is a photographer and painter of acrylic abstracts. Upon his return to his Elphinstone-area home, he contacted Donna Stewart, a Sechelt-based artist who uses concrete and acid to create highly textured works. 

“I had coffee with Donna,” recalled O’Meara, “and I said, could you teach me how to do the concrete? We chatted for a long time and she said, why don’t we do it together? Since Donna and Charly have been best buds forever, I thought, what about Charly too?” 

Painter Charly Mithrush, from Halfmoon Bay, is part of a decade-old artist collective called The Mix. Stewart is also a member. The Mix most recently organized an exhibition at the Seaside Centre during the July long weekend. 

“So Allan came and played in the studio and Donna joined in,” said Mithrush, who works in acrylics, watercolours, and lino printmaking. “We’ve been in the studio together and it’s a great energy. Then Allan said, hey, how about a show where each one of us has to put something in the painting, like a total collaboration of all three artists because we’re all such different mediums?” 

O’Meara said that each meeting of the three artists was marked by laughter (“until tears are running down our faces”) and uncommon productivity. 

The greatest challenge came after deciding that the group would create three collaborative works as a centrepiece for the exhibition. The fusion of acrylic, encaustic and concrete meant adapting techniques, like using collage to provide raw areas where paint or wax could be applied. 

The finished abstracts blend the unyielding physicality of stratified stone with the exuberant energy of organic life. Each piece bears a distinct colour palette: amber, azure, and rose. Their florid geometries suggest firmaments: sky, sea and blossom-spangled earth. 

“They were really a lot of fun,” said Stewart. “We were able to express our artistic individuality, but when it came to finishing the pieces we all seemed to agree on which direction they should go. I think Allan’s enthusiasm to think outside the box, my willingness to experiment and Charly’s artistic talent to bring our ideas to completion made us a great team. The willingness to work with other artists can teach you a great deal about yourself.” 

The pieces also incorporate pieces torn from billboards, and motifs from a graffiti wall that Stewart incorporated into the imagery. 

A portion of proceeds from the group’s sales on Sep. 8 will be donated to the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society for its Building Together initiative. The project will provide 34 units of affordable housing for women and children who are vulnerable to homelessness or poverty. 

The Colourful Collaboration exhibition takes place on Sept. 8 and 9 at 1680 Ocean Beach Esplanade, launched by a public reception from 5 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 8. 

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