By Melissa Smalley
There hasn’t been a time in Adrian Messner’s life when the South Cariboo resident wasn’t involved in art in one form or another.
Some of his earliest memories as young boy are of playing with paint brushes and stencil books, while other children his age opted for toy cars, trains and blocks.
A selection of Messner’s work from six decades of artistry is currently on display at the Showcase Gallery in the South Cariboo Business Centre, following a successful show at Parkside Art Gallery last month, entitled 63 Years of Art.
According to Messner – well-known in the community as an art teacher at 100 Mile Junior Secondary for more than 30 years – the show highlighted “where I came from and what I’ve done for the past 60 years.”
Messner was surrounded by art at an early age; his father, R.A. Messner, was a professional artist, mostly focusing on landscape oil paintings.
“Like father like son, I guess they say,” Messner concedes.
“I was always tagging along with my dad, and always interested in what he was doing, but I always thought to myself, ‘I don’t know if I want to become a professional artist’.”
In the 1970s, Messner attended the University of British Columbia, earning a double major in art and teaching. And although his work did sell pretty well on the Coast, when he came to the Cariboo in 1974, he began teaching.
Being immersed in art day-in-and-day-out inspired Messner to branch out into other areas of interest, including sports and archery.
But since retiring 10 years ago – affording him the opportunity to travel – the 67-year-old has found a renewed love for painting.
“I’m really inspired by the things I see, the people I meet,” he explains.
“When I was travelling up North, I could really see the way they painted, you could understand how they interpreted things and why. It began to make more sense to me.”
Messner has also started putting more focus on carving – he dabbles in everything from wood to soap stone to marble and alabaster – and says it is a constant learning process adjusting to different materials and tools.
“I was always interested in working with different medias,” he says, adding one piece he was working on in Williams Lake introduced him to carving with a chainsaw.
“It’s another tool; it’s just like a paintbrush.”
Though he admits he has moments when he misses teaching, Messner says he enjoys the freedom he has found in retirement, both personally and artistically.
“I’m at a point in my life when I like to enjoy my time, and paint things that inspire me. When you work for yourself, you end up working much harder than you would for other people.”
The Showcase Gallery is located at 475 Birch Ave., and is accessible Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.