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Campbell River Art Gallery director reflects on 'maybe our hardest year ever' – Campbell River Mirror

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When Sara Lopez Assu took over the reigns of the Campbell River Art Gallery as its new executive director early in 2020, she was excited to get to work. Little did she know she was about to guide the facility and organization through one of the most challenging years in its history.

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March, and restrictions began being put in place, her role leading an organization whose goal is to bring people together and celebrate art and artists suddenly became a lot more difficult.

And as she looked back on the year late last month, she wanted to see the statistics to see how bad it really was.

How many fewer people walked through the doors? How many fewer people were reached by the great work they were doing? How many fewer kids got to take advantage of their Super Saturday art sessions?

“It was a bit depressing at first, because obviously the numbers are so much lower than previous years,” Lopez Assu says, “but then we considered that we were 10 months in a pandemic, we turned it around and instead made it a celebration of the small victories and used it to pat ourselves on the back.”

Yes, the numbers were down, but she’s choosing to look at the positives.

After all, despite having no “openings” this year, the gallery still had 3,205 visitors.

People volunteered at the gallery for 533 hours.

Their live virtual talks brought in 128 viewers, and their online workshops had 31 people show up.

“Sure, we didn’t see tens of thousands of visitors last year,” she says, “but we managed to get a fair number of people through our doors despite what was going on in the world. So it was nice to reflect on how we managed to pivot and still engage with people in some capacity in what was maybe our hardest year ever. It would be easy to look back and be disappointed that we had to cancel things and got a fraction of the people in that we might have otherwise, but that’s not going to get us anywhere.”

And they learned a few things along the way that they’re going to use as they move forward into another year of uncertainty, Assu says.

“I think if there’s an overarching theme to what we’re looking at going forward it’s ‘community building,’” she says. “Celebrating close to home was the biggest take-away from 2020 for me, was that we can still be community builders and reach out to people while everyone became homebodies, so 2021 will be all about continuing to reach out to people and celebrating the things that are close to home.”

One of the ways they’ll continue that trend, she says, is to keep partnering up with other local organizations and developing an atmosphere of cross-pollination within the local art scene.

“When you think about Sugarbush Shrapnel in November, it had some strong themes of environmental sustainability and Indigenous ways of knowing, we made some connections with Greenways (Land Trust) on that,” she says. “While the folks at Greenways might not be intuitively interested in art, necessarily, there is art that can be interesting and important to people who have those kinds of interests. And similarly, how can we get folks who are interested in art engaged in the discussions surrounding climate change and environmental stewardship?

“We want to be community players and community partners, so cross-promoting each other like that is a really good way of everyone helping each other out,” she continues, “and it also helps bring together a diverse set of voices, which I think is really important, and is really what art is all about: having wide open conversations about complex issues and allowing different voices to chime in.”

And they’ll be starting off the year with another example of that: the annual Members’ Show, in collaboration with the Campbell River Arts Council, which once again celebrates local artists and artisans both in the physical gallery and online, beginning Jan. 14.

Watch both organizations’ social media platforms for information on how to experience the exhibition, and stay tuned for more exciting announcements from the gallery in the coming months as they continue to navigate another uncertain year in 2021.

RELATED: Gallery taps Sara Lopez Assu for top job

RELATED: Registration open for 2021 Members’ Show



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

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10 year-old uses art and music as emotional outlet during pandemic – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
The last 10 months haven’t been easy for 10 year-old Anushka Sabeshan.

“It’s been pretty hard. I get anxious about these things,” she told CTV News Toronto. “My classmate tested positive, my dad tested positive, so it’s just been like a whole rollercoaster for me. And I feel like a lot of kids around the world are feeling that way right now.”

The Markham, Ont. girl has been channeling her feelings and emotions through different artistic platforms, like painting.

“This art like shows like how I want it to be, or how it is now, or how it’s changed and they just really express my feelings,” Sabeshan explained. “I’ve also been creating music.”

It’s Sabeshan’s music that caught the attention of her teacher and classmates. As part of a school project, the students were tasked with creating a song about COVID-19. Sabeshan’s song, ‘Mayhem,’ was so well received that her family allowed it to go public. A production team also helped her put together a music video.

“My song is about a child through the pandemic, and it shows how this can affect kids, too,” Sabeshan said. “Not being able to see my friends and not being able to go out to restaurants and all that stuff, it sucks.”

Sabeshan’s younger brother Devin helped with the video The six-year-old says he shares many of his sister’s emotions.

“I felt really bad about COVID,” he told CTV News Toronto. “I wish it would go away.”

The siblings hope ‘Mayhem’ brings a feeling of calm to other young people during this difficult time.

“I think my music people will help other people just to reassure them that they’re not alone. Like, other people are feeling these feelings, too,” Sabeshan said. “It also is to create awareness for everybody to stay safe so we can get through this faster.”

“[Anushka] sings them a song to make them happy,” Devin says. “That’s what she does for other kids.”

‘Mayhem’ was put together with the help of Enliven Entertainment and Steve Cliff Valentine, who produced the music, along with Jeysan Sivakumar, who directed the video.

Sabeshan’s advice for other kids experiencing complex feelings during this time is to find something to do that makes them happy, or that they feel passionate about.

“I will definitely keep making paintings and making music,” she told CTV News Toronto. “And I encourage all people around the world to find things like what they like and just do them, just to take your mind off the pandemic.”

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Outdoor Gallery Stratford project brings art to life – The Beacon Herald

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Article content continued

“I want to flip that idea on its side and have the viewer engage in the evolution of the art piece itself – watching it change and seeing a bit of the creative process as it goes,” Dunnem said.

Dunnem used hot and cold water and soap to turn natural wool from a stuffing-like texture to fabric that wouldn’t fall apart. She used plant-based dye to colour the material and then cut more than 360 pieces that were affixed to the tree using its bark as a natural adhesive.

Peg Dunnem (Cory Smith/The Beacon Herald)

The project is similar to another soft sculpture piece Dunnem created in the summer that incorporated the gallery’s trees.

“I’ve always had a close relationship with nature and trees,” she said. “I spend a lot of time out in the woods and the forest. Even as a young child we spent our summers in a remote area where there were no other humans, so I adopted the trees as more than trees – as friends – and that’s been ingrained.”

After Dunnem has attached the last piece of wool Thursday, the project will live on – kind of.

“I think there is just as much beauty in the deterioration and in the decay as there is in the actual artwork,” she said. “The sun, the light, the cold, the hot will start to break down the fibres, and bugs and spiders and natural material will start to hold on to the fibres as well, and it becomes its own piece of art without human intervention.”

The project has garnered attention both in person and on social media for those who can’t make it to the gallery, including someone from Austria, Dunnem said.

Gallery Stratford closed its doors to guests Dec. 24, and Brayham hopes to reopen in early April. Until then, outdoor artwork like Dunnem’s is a chance to both engage the public and encourage mindfulness and physical activity.

“Many of us right now are spending so much time on screens,” Brayham said, “so being present with the environment and present with art and with your feelings is so important right now.”

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Outdoor public art exhibit of painted canoe paddles comes to downtown Peterborough in February – kawarthaNOW.com

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Carlotta James of Peterborough Pollinators with her 7-year-old son Salvador Haines, who painted this canoe paddle for the Painted Paddle art exhibit, which features 20 canoe paddles painted by volunteer artists on display at various locations in downtown Peterborough throughout February. Salvador says his paddle art, called The Elements, "represents the balance in nature with flowers blooming during the day and its roots growing by night, surrounded by the four elements: light blue for air, dark blue for water, red for fire and green for earth. Also, there’s a secret word painted in the roots, can you find it?". (Photo: Peterborough Pollinators / Facebook)
Carlotta James of Peterborough Pollinators with her 7-year-old son Salvador Haines, who painted this canoe paddle for the Painted Paddle art exhibit, which features 20 canoe paddles painted by volunteer artists on display at various locations in downtown Peterborough throughout February. Salvador says his paddle art, called The Elements, “represents the balance in nature with flowers blooming during the day and its roots growing by night, surrounded by the four elements: light blue for air, dark blue for water, red for fire and green for earth. Also, there’s a secret word painted in the roots, can you find it?”. (Photo: Peterborough Pollinators / Facebook)

A new outdoor public art exhibit featuring 20 canoe paddles painted by volunteer artists in the community is coming to downtown Peterborough in February.

Presented by the Downtown Vibrancy Project, the Painted Paddle art exhibit will be installed in street-front windows at various locations through the downtown area, including the Peterborough & the Kawartha Tourism Visitor Centre, Le Petit Bar, St. Veronus, Boardwalk Game Lounge, Sam’s Deli, Black Honey Bakery, Cork and Bean, B!KE, Watson and Lou, Cottage Toys, By The Bridge, GreenUp Store, Night Kitchen, Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area office, Meta4 Gallery, The Avant-Garden Shop, Sustain, Bluestreak Records, and Peterborough Social Services.

For those interested in taking a self-guided tour of the Painted Paddle exhibit, a map of all locations will be available at linktr.ee/LoveForTheBoro.

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“Art brightens the spirit and has a way of making people feel good,” says Tracie Bertrand, director of tourism at Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development. “The Painted Paddle art project will put a smile on people’s faces as they fondly reflect on their memories of being outdoors here in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.”

Some of the people and organizations who have contributed paddle art for the project include Peterborough mayor Diane Therrien, Hiawatha First Nation, Wiigwaas Hiawatha Store, Peterborough Police Service, Peterborough DBIA, GreenUP, Trent Gzowski College, Trent Veg Garden, Peterborough Pollinators, Princess Gardens Retirement Residence, Empress Gardens Retirement Residence, St. Anne’s School, VegFest, B!KE, the Art School of Peterborough, city councillors Kim Zippel and Kemi Akapo, mother-and-daughter team Eileen and Kendron Kimmett, local Anishinaabe artist Kyler Kay, and local artist Tiphaine Lenaik.

“The paddle creates a unique way to honour and acknowledge the original families in Treaty 20,” says Tim Cowie, lands and resource consultant with Hiawatha First Nation, one of many creative community members who lent their artistic skills to the Painted Paddle project. Cowie painted his paddle to look like a piece of birch bark (wiigwaas) and painted the clans (dodems) on his paddle to showcase the family ties of the Michi Saagiig.

Retired police officer Kelleigh Traynor-Hartnett paints a paddle on behalf of the Peterborough Police Service for the Painted Paddle art exhibit, which features 20 canoe paddles painted by volunteer artists. The self-guided exhibit will be on display at various locations throughout downtown Peterborough during February. (Photo courtesy of Peterborough DBIA)
Retired police officer Kelleigh Traynor-Hartnett paints a paddle on behalf of the Peterborough Police Service for the Painted Paddle art exhibit, which features 20 canoe paddles painted by volunteer artists. The self-guided exhibit will be on display at various locations throughout downtown Peterborough during February. (Photo courtesy of Peterborough DBIA)

Jill Stevens, economic development officer of Hiawatha First Nation, incorporated Michii Saagiig culture as part of their painted paddle installation.

“Having a paddle as the canvas was the perfect backdrop for the Hiawatha logo, which depicts someone paddling through manomin (wild rice) stands,” Stevens says.

The Painted Paddle exhibit will be on display in downtown Peterborough from Monday, February 1st until Friday, March 5th.

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Painted paddles from the exhibition will be available in a virtual auction beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 19th and continuing until 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 4th, just before the March First Friday Peterborough art crawl.

Proceeds from the auction at www.32auctions.com/paintedpaddles will go towards the One City Employment Program, which provides meaningful work to those with barriers to traditional employment.

Salvador Haines at work on his paddle for the Painted Paddle art exhibit. The paddles will be auctioned off to raise funds for the One City Employment Program, which provides meaningful work to those with barriers to ?traditional employment.  (Photo: Peterborough Pollinators / Facebook)
Salvador Haines at work on his paddle for the Painted Paddle art exhibit. The paddles will be auctioned off to raise funds for the One City Employment Program, which provides meaningful work to those with barriers to ?traditional employment. (Photo: Peterborough Pollinators / Facebook)

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