By Lissa Alexander
Two renowned Parksville Qualicum Beach area artists are using their artistic talents to help feed residents in need.
Ken Kirkby and Nana Cook are doing an online fundraiser, selling 50 original paintings for $500 each, and they are giving 50 per cent of the proceeds to Society of Organized Services to help keep its essential services operating. The paintings would normally retail from $1,000 to upwards of $5,000.
“We started hearing about the need happening, that people can’t pay their rent or get their medication,” said Cook. “So we thought, let’s do something positive.”
“I was delighted, thrilled,” said Cook when asked if she was surprised at the response. “But I keep hearing that people want to help. People are donating to causes, putting hearts in their driveways. People want to be participating, and this is an opportunity for people to participate and take home something to hang on their wall; a positive reminder.”
Kirkby is well-known for his arctic paintings, but his work in the fundraiser doesn’t include any of those.
“When I moved to the Island 20 years ago, I couldn’t sell a painting unless it had an Inukshuk in it or an iceberg or something,” he said. “Now people don’t want that anymore, they want this,” he said, referring to his Vancouver Island paintings.
Kirkby, once a pilot himself, has been flown over Vancouver Island on numerous occasions, and that’s when he started noticing things in the forest.
“You look down and you see a roadway, a trail, a clearing,” he said. “It got me really fascinated because there is a soul to this place that is not what I thought it was.”
Upon closer inspection, Kirkby realized these were abandoned farms. He explained that the Boer War and the First World War claimed the lives of many early Vancouver Island farmers, and since they didn’t return home, their farms ultimately failed.
Cook’s paintings in the sale include work from her Arbutus tree series, along with a painting of the lake where she and Ken got married, and one of Spider Lake. She said ever since Kirkby taught her to fly fish, she has been fascinated with painting lakes. She is also working on a series of birds.
“I started painting birds this winter,” she explained. “During the last snowfall I was snowed in for a few days, and Thrush and Towhee were coming to the garden. So I just sat there and watched their bright colours against the snow, and then I went up to the studio and got to work.”
She is currently painting a quail – large scale – with all of its intricate details, and she is loving it, she said.
Kirkby said he and Cook are similar in that they can’t wait to get up in the morning and do as they please. One of the results of that, he said, is that they paint what they want, and they sell it.
“This ain’t no Van Gogh tragedy,” he said, explaining that he has no interest in being a rich man or dying a rich man. But he feels rich every day he gets up. “Whether you want to be a misery or a joy is up to you.”
Kirkby said he heard something once that really resonated with him. The words, spoken by Winston Churchill, essentially said that a nation should be judged by how it treats its less fortunate. This applies to the individuals who make up the nation, Kirkby said.
Cook said they chose SOS as the recipient for the fundraiser because it serves all of District 69, and they wanted to ensure people from all of the local communities could benefit, and get the help they need during this difficult time.
Since the SOS Thrift Shop had to close its doors in March, the charity lost its main source of revenue and has become reliant on donations to continue operating and offering essential services to residents. These essential services include emergency assistance and advocacy, for things like food and medicine vouchers, Meals on Wheels, grocery shopping and friendly phone visiting for seniors, counselling referral, and the Homeless Prevention Program.
SOS began a Grateful Hearts fundraising campaign in April to keep these services available, with a goal of raising $500,000 by September. To make a donation, visit www.sosd69.com or call 250-248-2093.
To help spread the word about SOS essential services and to help raise funds for the cause, SOS is taking photos of clients, volunteers, supporters and donors with a Grateful Heart cutout, and asking them what they’re grateful for.
Cook said she’s grateful for her family, including her new granddaughter who she got to hold a few times before she had to go into lockdown. And she’s grateful to have Kirkby in her life.
Kirkby said he’s grateful for his father, who was the most gentle, brilliant, strongest human being he has ever met. He’s also grateful for a fisherman named Francisco who lived in a shack next to his home in Portugal and taught him so much about life. He’s grateful to the Portuguese people who took him in for many years. He’s grateful for the time he spent in the Arctic, and the incredible people he met. That experience helped him become a more evolved human being, and all of those experiences have contributed to his ‘delicious life’ and the life he has now has with Cook.
Crunch time coming for Coast Art Crawl – Coast Reporter
The organizers of the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl face the biggest decision in the event’s decade-long history: Do they hope for a continuing flattening of B.C.’s pandemic curve and proceed with the Art Crawl this October, or call it off?
The Coast Cultural Alliance (CCA), the non-profit group that organizes the lucrative Coast-wide project, has sought opinions on the matter from 265 vendors involved in last year’s Art Crawl. The CCA asked them to fill out a five-question, multiple-choice survey and submit it by May 30.
A key question was, “At this time, how do you feel about participating in the 2020 Art Crawl?” Possible answers included, “definite yes, but not in my own home,” “definite yes in my studio/home working with October Provincial Health Guidelines,” “definite no,” and “maybe.”
Linda Williams, the CCA board member who takes the lead on the Art Crawl, told Coast Reporter that most replies were yet to come in and, while there were many positive responses, the interim results were inconclusive. Williams added that there were several suggestions as to how to make the Art Crawl work and keep everyone safe, so she remains positive the Oct. 23 to 25 event might happen.
Williams said the traditional July 15 deadline for vendors to sign up and pay fees could be extended another few weeks to provide as much time as possible for an informed decision. Reminders are usually sent out to vendors in June. “But if we have enough [survey responses] that are ‘definitely no,’ we won’t put that call out,” Williams said.
Calling off the event would be another blow to hundreds of local artists, already suffering from a lack of studio visits due to ongoing concern about the spread of COVID-19. Last year’s Art Crawl generated more than $450,000 in direct sales. And, like the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts and the Rogue Arts Festival, both held in August and both cancelled this year, the Art Crawl attracts many off-Coast visitors who spend on accommodation, food and other goods and attractions. The absence of that spending would be felt across much of the Coast economy.
The CCA board has another task to complete before the Art Crawl decision is made – completing the 2020-21 Purple Banner brochure and map. The online and hard-copy guides are an effective marketing tool for arts studios and galleries from Langdale to Lund. The banners – purple flags emblazoned with a white eye-icon – can hang off participating businesses year-round. “Wherever you see a Purple Banner, the arts are at work. In many cases, but not always, the banner is an invitation to drop in,” the CCA says in its publicity. Unlike the Art Crawl, vendors’ information in the guide can specify that would-be visitors must call ahead, so studio owners can specify a time and prepare for visits, important in this time of plague.
Williams noted that, while the Art Crawl is a hugely important, three-day event, the Purple Banner Guide is in distribution, and paying potential dividends, for 12 months. “If artists and vendors definitely don’t want to go into the Art Crawl, the Purple Guide is another opportunity for them,” Williams said. About 20,000 brochures are printed every year. The deadline for inclusion is usually May, but that also has been extended for one month. You can lean more about the Purple Banner program at the CCA’s website, suncoastarts.com
Start Your Engines: Toronto will host the world's first drive-in art exhibit – Driving
The COVID-19 pandemic is proving what driving enthusiasts already know: that a car is the best private place when going out in public.
It’s why the car became the solution when a long-planned van Gogh art exhibit in Toronto, Immersive van Gogh, was suddenly sidelined by the province’s closures. Now the show will kick off with an event dubbed Gogh by Car, in what its organizers believe is the world’s first drive-in art exhibit.
“This show is meant to be seen on foot, not in the car, but we realize that we have to pivot and go with this situation,” said Svetlana Dvoretsky, the show’s co-producer. “We’re opening (with) the drive-in, and for people who can’t wait to get out of the house and do something, it’s perfect.”
The show can go on this way because it isn’t set up like a regular art exhibit. Cars won’t cruise in a line past paintings hung on the wall. Instead, it’s an immersive audio and video show that tries to imagine van Gogh’s creative processes, and takes the viewer along a journey from blank canvas to finished painting.
“We purchased the license for over 400 different images from various museums around the world, and those images were layered and became the details that were put together digitally,” Dvoretsky said.
Planning for the Toronto event started more than a year ago. The digital projections are massive, and require walls at least six metres high. One of the issues was finding a venue large enough for the display — and that would turn out to be key to the drive-in alternative. The Toronto Star originally printed its newspapers on-site at its offices at 1 Yonge Street. With the presses long gone, that giant space and its 15-metre-high walls were perfect for the exhibit.
In those pre-COVID days, parking in downtown Toronto was expensive and hard to find, and that created the spark for the drive-in event. “When we were starting our construction on-site, we were parking anywhere we could outside,” Dvoretsky said. “One of our construction managers said, ‘You can just drive in like we do,’ and he showed us the way through the loading dock so we could drive our cars into our space.”
When the producers got the news that the exhibit couldn’t open to the public in mid-May as planned, “it hit us that if we could drive in, we could get our customers to drive in,” Dvoretsky said. “So we started to completely rethink the whole concept. We had to redo things, get permits and insurance, and get an exhaust system put in place. It was quite a process, but we managed to do it.”
The show runs in a 35-minute loop. Normally, walk-in visitors would be able to browse a lobby display, watch the loops at their leisure, and even climb a catwalk to see it from another angle.
Instead, fourteen cars will be admitted for each show, with occupants watching the loop once before moving out for the next group to drive in. The setup can accommodate everything except large SUVs and minivans — meaning you can’t go in a van to see van Gogh.
The show runs to the end of September, but for now, the drive-in is scheduled for June 18 to 28. The organizers are hoping they’ll be able to admit walk-in visitors after that, but Dvoretsky said that if shutdown measures are still in place, the drive-in will be extended. Those who paid to see the show from their cars will be able to walk through the event when it opens, using the same ticket. The drive-in event is sold out, but there’s a waiting list for tickets if someone cancels.
This show is meant to be seen on foot, but we realized we have to pivot and go with this situation —Svetlana Dvoretsky, co-producer
Gogh by Car might be the world’s only drive-in art exhibit, but it’s not the first event to take advantage of the isolation offered by a vehicle’s cabin. The Toronto Zoo has set up a 3.4-kilometre route that lets visitors drive past some of the exhibits to see the animals inside.
Of course, that’s old news to African Lion Safari, near Hamilton, Ontario, which has been operating as the opposite of a traditional zoo since 1969. Lions roam free throughout the park, while visitors roll up their car windows and drive by them — although some get out past the gates to survey any damage after experiencing the baboons, who tend to be fascinated with windshield wipers.
While they’ve been on the critically-endangered list for many years, drive-in movie theatres are also poised to make a comeback. While there aren’t many left, some of the remaining ones are opening in provinces and states that have lifted restrictions, often showing classic films when they can’t get more recent blockbusters. The vehicles are spaced farther apart, and popcorn and treats must be ordered in advance, but it’s a night out at a time when indoor movie theatres remain out of bounds.
And while viewing van Gogh’s starry nights and sunflowers from a car will be temporary, then even when social distancing is done, there might be enough interest for drive-ins to come back from the brink and become popular once more.
'A Different Perspective' art show – pictouadvocate.com
TRURO – Visual Voice Fine Art is showcasing A Different Perspective a solo art exhibit with new artworks by Bob Hainstock.
Since graduating from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design 24 years ago, the artist has lived and maintained his studio on the southern edge of the province’s unique North Mountain, that 100 kilometre long ridge of struggling farmland and forest that separates the powerful Bay of Fundy from the fertile and productive Annapolis Valley. His perch sits more than 700 feet above a Valley floor of constantly changing textures and colours, which gives Hainstock a distinct aerial perspective of shifting pattern and shadow depending of the time of day and season. Skies look bigger from that place and there’s always a panoramic glimpse of distant weather systems approaching. Everything is simplified with the higher perspective; especially in the abstracted light patterns of nighttime on farms, towns and villages – nearly 35,000 people and their homes will almost disappear with the coming of morning light. And if the artist needs a dramatic change of visual language, a brisk 20 minute walk gives him the alternate colours, temperatures and textures of The Fundy.
See the exhibit from June 13 to July 11 at the Visual Voice Fine Art gallery as it reopens. The gallery does not see many visitors in a regular day, but patrons may book the gallery for a PRIVATE viewing, see all the artwork on Facebook.com/VisualVoice.ca or have a virtual catalogue of pieces within their budget send directly to their email.
Contact the gallery at 902-VIEWING (843-9464) for more information.
Bob Hainstock, Quilted Landscape Valley mixed media
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