The Final Day.
The Paint-In the Square was a lot of fun. I would consider it a great success personally, an event that I helped co-ordinate with a team I had just met, an event that went forward without any serious hitches or problems, and an event that raised awareness for a great organization. Some artists had great financial success, over 700 people tried their hand at art, and seven kids sold their first original art (as organized by Carey Newman). The City, business people, and visitors all enjoyed seeing the Square used in such a creative way. We even raised some small donations for the Gallery!
There were a few big happenings on Friday. First of all, the day could be described as youthful. We had three young, up-and-coming but already recognized artists take part in the Square, alongside internationally renowned artists like Richard Hunt (in all fairness, his Order of Canada must have been influenced by his work with presenting art and First Nations’ culture to children). We had our Children’s Art Activity running for the final day. We had all our artists from the Children’s Art Exhibition come and sell their first work and meet the people buying them. It was a great day.
The day didn’t start so well though… A storm came through in the middle of the night and poured down on Victoria, and the clouds looked to be staying, and I didn’t have a set-up crew. For the last three days in the Square I was arriving at nine and setting up on my own, including putting up the 8′ art display walls (thanks Sooke Fine Arts!) on my own, the decorations, and the artist placements. Having pulled a muscle doing this earlier in the week, and having really sore feet thanks to not-properly-fitted orthotics, this was a slow and difficult process until Jeff and my other volunteers showed up between 10:00 and 10:30. It was tough at times, but worth it once the day got started! I was starting to worry in the morning about having artists cancel because of the weather, but arriving at the Square and seeing Richard Hunt already there calmed my worries, and sure enough all nine artists were ready to go by 11:00.
Here’s the List:
- Gareth Gaudin
- Linda Lindsay
- Melanie Furtado
- Richard Hunt
- Sandy Voldeng
- Tanta DeStaffany Pennington
- Yvonka Jager
- Mitchell Villa
- Elka Nowicka
Linda works on a sculpture and enjoys the local fare in the Square.
Gareth Gaudin, cartoonist and owner of Legends Comics and Books, works on one of his daily cartoons (somewhere around 2950 days in a row now…). Gareth is a mutli-talented cartoonist, music producer, and “one of the foremost dealers in vintage comics on the continent,” according to his store’s website. I personally loved to see cartoons being included in the Square as I felt it brought forward an often overlooked art form, much like Joseph Williams’ illustrations from Day 1.
Melanie was back on the chillier Friday and continued her tradition of collaboration with Paint-In the Square artists, this time asking sculptor David Hunwick (Day 4) to sit as her model (you can see his head here). Melanie’s sculpting technique was popular with the visitors who enjoyed seeing an artist build up their work, literally. Thanks Melanie!
Mitchell Villa, another of the younger artists in the Square, worked on some huge paintings on Friday. He also graciously donated drop-sheets to other artists who needed them, potentially saving us a pressure washing fee…
Richard Hunt, C.M., O.B.C., in true character above, brought his world-famous carvings and prints to the Square on Friday, the first person to be set up and ready to go. Mr. Hunt was a great addition to the Square with his wonderful personality, talent, and ease with visitors. Above and below Richard and his wife Sandra talk about Richard’s prints and carvings with Victoria City Councilor Chris Coleman. Councilor Coleman represents one of the many City of Victoria employees and politicians who visited the Square (right next to City Hall) many times during the week. Thanks to all those from the surrounding offices who made the lunch-hour trip to the Paint-In the Square!
Sandy Voldeng works on a figure in what was often the misty section of the Square. The wind in Victoria blows predominantly off the ocean (coming from the direction behind Sandy) and often caught the fountain’s spray, blowing it towards Kim Nilson for three days and Sandy on the last day. Luckily it didn’t affect any work!
Tanta shows off her wood block carvings that are used to make her prints.
Yvonka Jager, a highly talented bookmaker and water colour artist displays some of her books. This station was very unique as most of her books are very personal – journals from trips, shopping lists – but are works of art in themselves. Seeing Yvonka, a painter, explore what people have often considered a craft not a fine art was encouraging for visitors interested in art but not feeling crafts made the cut. These crafty people are slowly realizing that their skills and creativity do make quality art, and artists like Yvonka are helping bridge that gap. Special mention also goes to Martin Lind who came to the Square with Yvonka. Spending the day talking with artists and visitors and taking portraits of strangers on his vintage Yashica Mat was a great addition to the interactive nature of the Square. You can see his photos on his Flickr account.
Elka, a painter who started originally as an architect in Poland and fashion designer for the likes of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, brought a small demo of her work, setting up on a blue tote container and working steadfastly through the day. Elka also bought one of the art works in the Children’s Art Exhibition which had been displayed all week and were sold by the kids themselves on Friday, an encouraging link between established and beginning artists. Thanks Elka for your time in the Square and your dedication to supporting the arts! More pictures from the Children’s Art Exhibition sale can be seen below.
The kids were thrilled with the chance to sell their work for the first time. Carey Newman and Elaine Ting organized the exhibition after Carey had met a little girl at 2011’s Paint-In who didn’t think she could sell her work. Carey wanted to show children and families that being an artist can be a career, and a successful one at that, and brought the students, aged 7-12 from local schools, through the process of making the art, mounting it, pricing it, hanging the show, and eventually selling their work. I am pleased to say each of the seven kids sold at least one original work, and they will all receive a portion of cards sales. Thanks to Carey, Elaine, and the kids for adding this interesting and successful exhibition to the Paint-In the Square.
This final post wouldn’t be complete without the mention of publicity and a mention of the City’s Lunchtime Concert Series in the Square, a big draw for people in local offices. First, the Times Colonist came back during the week and featured the Paint-In the Square on the front page of the Life section in Sunday’s paper. Interviewing artists and myself with photos from the festivities in the Square, this piece was an amazing recap of what went on during the week. I’ve also included a photo of Mary-ellen, the Paint-In Coordinator for the AGGV, who explains to Adam Sawatsky from CTV about her weather superstitions. Any chance M-e can get, she knocks on that 2×4 to bring good weather luck for the Paint-In. You might think this is a shtick for the camera, but there are 11 small suns drawn on the side, and it worked again this year: The Paint-In had gorgeous weather, huge crowds, and the highest total donations ever in its 25 year history! Glad the Square could be a part of that tradition.
The entertainment during the week was fun as well. A good mix of jazz, R&B, and classical. The week ended with a bang however, Maureen Washington and her quintet. Featuring some of Victoria’s best musicians (including my former bass teacher and former arranger for the Glen Miller Orchestra, Joey Smith) this quintet had the entire Square dancing and brought some sunshine to our dreary Friday weather. It was also fun for me, a photographer and musician, to spend a bit of time doing what I’m more used to: taking pictures at concerts! Thanks Steven (sound guy and set-up man extraordinaire), all the musicians, and everyone who came down to visit.
That about does it for my five days in Centennial Square. The Paint-In the Square was a success if just for bringing awareness to the Gallery, giving the public a chance to see some highly skilled artists, giving kids the chance to create and sell their work, and bringing a good use to one of Victoria’s landmarks. Feedback about the event was almost unanimously positive, from all who visited and participated, and maybe this event, or a similar one, can continue in future years.
I learned a lot from this event. I learned a lot about art, a lot about working with artists and for non-profits, a lot about event planning and teamwork. I consider it a success personally because nothing major went wrong (and nothing really minor either) and because I met some amazing people. Hopefully this won’t be the last you’ll see of them on this blog. After spending a week with these artists I’ve got some ideas for future projects, so stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone involved with the Paint-In the Square. I hope you’ve liked the photos and the personal notes about the five days, and remember to support local artists and your Art Gallery.