Three friends exhibit art at Imperial Valley Artist Collective event

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EL CENTRO – The Imperial Valley Artist Collective Friday evening sponsored the exhibition of three local artists — who happen to be close friends who often paint together — in a well-received event at the Old Post Office Pavillion, now known as the House of Cultural Arts, in El Centro.

The event honored the three local artists Jean Stroud, Jeri Ann Stoklas and Carole Drewry.

Their friend and fellow artist, Judy Jacklich, came to support them at the fine art show reception and said she has a house full of much-loved grandchildren now, but hopes to be a part of the show next year. Kimberly Alfaro, president of the Imperial Valley Artist Collective, said Jacklich and the three women artists have been invited to exhibit next April.

Alfaro said this show will continue through April 27 with the gallery open 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and there is no charge to attend. Publicized through Facebook, flyers and word of mouth, nearly a hundred guests attended the event throughout the evening, including three generations of family members of each of the three artists.

“I was shocked.” said Drewry. “I looked up, and there was my daughter, Diane, a CPA from Irvine and her daughter Megan, a doctor at the University of California, Irvine.” Drewry’s son, who lives in the Valley, also attended with his family.

Close to 80 works are on display in the gallery, mostly watercolor with some small acrylic canvasses and framed pen and ink.

Stoklas says she finds it amazing that while “showing our work in the same medium, it can be so different.”

“I have stacks of paintings, but without this show, I would never have framed so many,” she added. “It was both a lot of fun and a lot of work.” Stoklas admitted finding the experience a bit scary. “You are out there! Art is such a part of you.”

The three friends said they find strength together, and Drewry admitted they often paint together. Stoklas added, “We trust each other to give advice and opinions freely, and not to be jealous. We feel secure, which is highly unusual, I think (among artists).”

The artists meet once a week with mentor Mary Alexson, often with six additional women. Alexson is a well-known local professional artist.

Drewry credited Alexson as a great inspiration to her students who now find themselves competing in the local California Mid-Winter Fair Art Show for ribbons. Drewry’s exhibit included a large framed water color of white iris that won the blue ribbon at the fair this year. Meanwhile, Stroud had her fair Best of Show watercolor painting of granddaughter, Tia Schneewind, who was also present at the event.

Stroud said the three friends also meet each Tuesday at the Rain Forest located in Imperial in the city hall complex. The women have previously exhibited together at other local shows such as the Episcopalian Palate and Palette Event.

Originally from Arizona, Stroud has the most experience showing as an artist.

The three artists said they hope to extend the outreach of their work. Each can be found online. Stroud at jeanstroud136@hotmail.com , Stoklas at Mumnme@sbcglobal.net, and  Drewry at caroledrewry@gmail.com.

Also exhibiting was Lauren Drewry, granddaughter of Carole Drewry, and her friend Ana Luz Melendez, both sophomores at Imperial High School and the girls greeted guests as they arrived. The young artists said they love watercolor and have studied with Drewry’s grandmother since last summer.

Melendez shared that one can find “realistic landscapes, nature scenes, something that everyone can like here this evening.”

“We are fortunate to have an art show of this quality,” said Van Fried, a friend who quilts with Carole Drewry. “Honestly, it is a beautiful show.”