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Art Gallery of Windsor offers to improve well-being through creativity – AM800 (iHeartRadio)

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During the depths of the pandemic a new program offered by the Art Gallery of Windsor aims to improve mental health and overall well-being through creativity.

On Saturday, the first in a series of virtual sessions dubbed Taking Care: Where Art Meets Wellness, will offer art workshops and activities meant to improve mood and state of mind.

“I would look at it more as a masterclass on how we can use creativity to better our overall wellbeing,” said Ainslee Winter a professional art therapist and owner of Revival Through Hands Holistic Services.

Winter will work as the instructor for the series which will be conducted via the Zoom video call platform.

The program is being offered for free through support from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and the Windsor-Essex Community Foundation.

Winter believes art has the power to heal.

“It’s a powerful tool that we can use when we’re feeling stuck in emotions and right now people are having a lot of challenges,” said Winter.

One exercise includes breathing and a focus on one’s own emotions, using those feelings to scribble a design before smoothing out the harsh edges with water and colours to reveal a finished product; but Winter stresses the process is more important than the result.

Winter says the exercise encourages people to reveal their emotions and has even brought people to tears.

“It’s good to allow that to just fully release because it means you’re moving through a stress cycle as opposed to holding it in the body but, also there’s a lot of relief in it,” said Winter.

Winter says the program is meant to be an initiative to bring the community together and offer an outlet for overstressed frontline healthcare workers, parents, and young adults.

The program begins on Saturday at 11 a.m. and runs through to the end of March.

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How home-office video calls are helping to boost art sales – CBC.ca

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Videoconferencing has become so common during the pandemic that “Zoom” is being used as a verb. We zoom friends and colleagues, and they peer inside our bedrooms, basements and condos, perusing our bookshelves and decor.

Many of us worry about what’s there, what it says about us, and want a change.

“People are finally looking at what’s behind them as they stare at their screen,” said Andrea Rinaldo, co-owner of the Butter Art Gallery in Collingwood, Ont. “And they don’t like what they see.”

That has prompted something of a renaissance for the gallery, and the local artists it represents, in what has become the best year for sales in its existence.

“What we’ve introduced is the idea of Zoom Art,” Rinaldo said.

“Something that might also offer the people that they’re on the call with [some] eye candy,” added her business partner Suzanne Steeves. “Something to look at besides the books.”

Art sales are booming at this Collingwood, Ont., gallery co-owned by Andrea Rinaldo, right, and Suzanne Steeves, with customers wanting ‘something other than books’ for the background of their Zoom calls. (David Common/CBC)

Sales have skyrocketed at the gallery as customers have sought to spice up their backgrounds. From smaller pieces for $45, to larger works of fine art selling for well into five digits, the gallery aims to be accessible to all buyers — even those who just want to browse options on social media.

Exponential growth in videoconferencing

The use of videoconferencing ballooned during the early months of the pandemic, with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Go To Meeting and a series of other services showing enormous growth in both the number of users and amount of use.

Zoom ended 2019 with 10 million daily meeting participants, for example. When the pandemic was declared in March, that rose to 200 million. By April, daily users surged to 300 million, and have kept growing.

Simultaneously, people began to focus on the backgrounds of their calls. Social media feeds posted some of the best (and the worst), and people passed judgment on RoomRater on Twitter and other forums.

“Instead of the power suit, it’s now the power art,” said Steeves at the gallery.

Andrea Rinaldo said the gallery-going experience has changed for some. ‘If they don’t see something on the wall here to stand in front of, we just lift one up … and they stand in front of that piece so they can make that comparison and see which piece behind them makes them look the best.’ (David Common/CBC)

Working from home has fundamentally altered the gallery experience for some. People used to come to look at the art — now they come to stand with their backs to it.

For those who come into the gallery, “if they don’t see something on the wall here to stand in front of, we just lift one up … and they stand in front of that piece,” Rinaldo said. “So they can make that comparison and see which piece behind them makes them look the best.”

And during lockdowns, they’re offered Zoom or Facetime tours of the options available.

There are also some additional considerations when choosing art for a wall featured in Zoom calls, said Rinaldo.

“Is it too distracting for the people who are viewing you? Are they going to be paying attention to what you’re saying or are they going to be focusing on the art?”

As director of sales and group services for the nearby Blue Mountain Resort, Helen Stukator wanted something bold to help boost online pitches and client interactions.

“I’m very used to being face-to-face with my clients, entertaining them, wining and dining and having those opportunities to really build a relationship. And if it’s just a boring wall or a white wall behind me, it doesn’t have the same effect.”

Stukator went with a painting from Ontario artist Grace Afonso, and said she is delighted by the response.

“People really like it. You can’t not see it,” she said. “It’s a conversation starter and it’s personal.”

Helen Stukator, seen on a video call with her new background painting by Grace Afonso. (David Common/CBC)

Expanding audience

Artists are also surprised by the extra attention.

“It’s fun and exciting for me,” said the Hamilton-based Afonso, stunned by the sudden exposure of her art to far more people. “It’s bringing a little cheer to everybody else and it’s bringing cheer to me to paint it.

“Hopefully they’re getting a little peace and happiness by looking at it, because Zoom calls can be quite stressful,” she said.

The artist knows a lot about stress herself, working as a full-time charge nurse at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. She works on crisis and psychosis cases in the hospital’s eating disorder unit, which has seen a substantial increase in patients during the pandemic.

So back in her art studio on days off, it’s an “opportunity to recenter yourself … go back to that place where you’re peaceful and joyful and calm.”

Grace Afonso said her income from painting has at least tripled since last March, with many customers buying larger and more expensive pieces for the background of their video calls. (Ousama Farag/CBC)

The artist is also excited that her art is being seen by more than just visitors to someone’s home. They’re now being shown to a much wider audience through the video calls of those who have purchased her works.

It’s not what she expected from the pandemic.

“I thought with COVID, everything for art would kind of die down and it would just be quiet time for us artists in the studio just to paint,” she said, “I didn’t expect everybody to be so interested in what we’re doing right now.”

Afonso has painted about 75 works over the pandemic year — similar to an ordinary year — but this year all have sold quickly. The greatest difference is size. In COVID times, there has been demand for larger pieces, which equates for the artist to a higher selling price. She said her income from painting has at least tripled since last March.

Meanwhile, a banner year was not what the founding partner of Butter Art Gallery expected when the pandemic first hit.

“We were very worried,” Steeves said. “We were having discussions about how long do we stay closed and not make money. But surprisingly, we did make money.”

Butter Gallery co-owner Suzanne Steeves worried how badly the business would be hit by the pandemic, but 2020 would turn out to be its best year yet. (David Common/CBC)

The gallery’s contemporary art collection has also caught the attention of a growing internet-based community, who peruse the ever-changing collection online.

“We had a conversation with a couple,” Rinaldo said. “They [told us they] got their glasses of wine, put up their big screen together, and flipped through our repertoire of art. And that’s what they did for the whole evening.”

The couple called up the next day and arranged to pick up two pieces curbside.

The success has trickled to artists across Ontario and Quebec, with surging demand creating a constantly revolving selection of available pieces at the gallery.

“I just think it’s really important to support local arts,” Stukator said, with her new painting prominently hung on the wall opposite her laptop. “It keeps the community going. It shows appreciation and it makes our community beautiful.”

WATCH | The National’s feature on video calls driving sales of art:

A small art gallery in Collingwood, Ont., has seen a boom in sales during the pandemic and it’s at least in part from people buying ‘Zoom art’ to make video calls a little brighter. 4:22


Watch full episodes of The National on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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Victoria art centre offers free therapeutic art sessions – Goldstream News Gazette – Goldstream News Gazette

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The Bateman Foundation hopes to harness the healing power of creativity with a series of free therapeutic art sessions.

Materials are provided for the free drop-in sessions, and an on-site art therapist will be available for assistance or mental wellness insight.

“It’s learning about art and nature and using those as tools for wellness,” says Lauren Ball, spokesperson for the Bateman Foundation. “We (wanted) to help people to feel a bit more powerful in their daily lives.”

In the summer of 2020 the foundation launched the Wellness Project, adapting its annual Nature Sketch program for the pandemic and providing it free of charge to small groups in the community.

The new drop-in therapeutic art sessions are an extension of that program, says Bell, and a direct response to the effects of the ongoing pandemic.

READ ALSO: Nature Sketch program returns in Victoria with COVID-19 safety protocols

“Knowing that anxiety and depression are on the rise on this mass scale because of social isolation, we wanted to help in some way,” she said.

“It’s not about being a really great artist, it’s not necessarily about the final result of what you create, it’s about tapping into the creative potential and creative energy that exists within all of us, and using that to find some sense of joy, some sense of peace.”

Art therapist Kaitlin McManus will be on site to help participants who want to discover meaning in their artwork while they are creating.

All ages and experience level are welcome. Four people can participate simultaneously for 30 minutes each, unless there is no one waiting to join, in which case artists can stay longer.

Sessions run twice a week at the Bateman Gallery at 300-470 Belleville St. on Tuesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Appointments are not necessary.

READ ALSO: Renowned photographer’s work captured at the Bateman Gallery


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Victoria art centre offers free therapeutic art sessions – Saanich News – Saanich News

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The Bateman Foundation hopes to harness the healing power of creativity with a series of free therapeutic art sessions.

Materials are provided for the free drop-in sessions, and an on-site art therapist will be available for assistance or mental wellness insight.

“It’s learning about art and nature and using those as tools for wellness,” says Lauren Ball, spokesperson for the Bateman Foundation. “We (wanted) to help people to feel a bit more powerful in their daily lives.”

In the summer of 2020 the foundation launched the Wellness Project, adapting its annual Nature Sketch program for the pandemic and providing it free of charge to small groups in the community.

The new drop-in therapeutic art sessions are an extension of that program, says Bell, and a direct response to the effects of the ongoing pandemic.

READ ALSO: Nature Sketch program returns in Victoria with COVID-19 safety protocols

“Knowing that anxiety and depression are on the rise on this mass scale because of social isolation, we wanted to help in some way,” she said.

“It’s not about being a really great artist, it’s not necessarily about the final result of what you create, it’s about tapping into the creative potential and creative energy that exists within all of us, and using that to find some sense of joy, some sense of peace.”

Art therapist Kaitlin McManus will be on site to help participants who want to discover meaning in their artwork while they are creating.

All ages and experience level are welcome. Four people can participate simultaneously for 30 minutes each, unless there is no one waiting to join, in which case artists can stay longer.

Sessions run twice a week at the Bateman Gallery at 300-470 Belleville St. on Tuesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Appointments are not necessary.

READ ALSO: Renowned photographer’s work captured at the Bateman Gallery


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ArtVictoria

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