Artists Nadia Rieger (left) and Alyssa Penner have set up informal get-togethers for artists in Campbell River. Photo by Mike Chouinard/ Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River artists set up group for coffee and talking about art

Idea started with Facebook group to connect artists in the community

Some local artists have started a group to connect others in the arts community to share ideas and thoughts over coffee.

Artist Elyssa Penner came up with the idea in part so she could meet other artists in Campbell River but also as a way to bring them all together.

“We have a huge community of artists here,” she said. “I noticed that nobody knew each other in the community.”

Penner grew up in Crofton, B.C., and has lived in several communities on Vancouver Island. She moved here with her family about five years ago. She decided to set up a group for people to connect, or “get artists out of the studio,” and set up a Facebook page called “Campbell River artists coffee and chat!” The idea was to set up informal meetings every month or so at a coffee shop. The Facebook page describes it as “a time when we can get together and chat all art-related subjects, whether that be painting, history, pop culture, what’s going on locally in the arts or just to get help and advice.”

Already, the Facebook group has attracted more than 50 members, with about eight to 10 people coming by for the first two meetings. Penner is hoping more will come out for the next one on July 26 at 6 p.m. She adds that it is suitable for every artist, from the hobbyist to the professional.

“It’s just a free thing for local creatives to come and join for an hour or two,” she said. “We never run out of things to talk about.”

At first the plan was to meet at a local coffee shop. With the potential for a large group of artists to show up though, it became clear to Penner they might need a space larger than a coffee shop. That’s where artist Nadia Rieger from Crow’s Nest Gallery in Willow Point stepped in, offering her space for the artists to meet, while Sundance Java Bar nearby has offered to supply the coffee for the get-togethers.

“Alyssa came to me with the idea,” Rieger said. “I thought it was really awesome.”

She said she likes to support local art at her gallery, so she suggested to Penner that they hold the meetings at Crow’s Nest.

“It just seemed like a good collaboration as far as location,” she said, adding, “I really wanted to be a part of it.”

The gallery provides more space than a coffee shop as well as large tables, along with many things to inspire artists.

The format is informal, but Penner says they like to have an idea of what they will talk about for next time. Otherwise, with so many artists in the room, they could easily get lost on some tangents.

The first meeting in May served as a chance for people to introduce themselves and what they do. Later, they talked about how to use social media such as Instagram and Facebook in terms of what and when to post.

“So far, it’s just been like a magical experience,” Rieger said. “We’ve only had a couple of meetings so far, and everybody’s looking forward to the next one, and the next one.”

For the upcoming meeting, people are bringing their own supplies to demonstrate how they use their favourite media.

“Artists get excited about that kind of stuff,” Penner laughs. “It’s somewhere that people can learn as well…. I think there’s a lot people can learn from each other.”

For more information, see the Facebook page or contact Penner at alyssapennerartist@gmail.com.