Although Vancouver has, sadly, seen the loss of many art spaces in recent years, many agreed the particular case of William Clark Studios seems unusual.
The Town of Sidney has added four new pieces of public art as part of its multi-year Utility Box Beautification Project.
Since 2006, the town has wrapped 38 electrical utility boxes in downtown Sidney with works of art by established and emerging artists living in the Saanich Peninsula.
This year, the town picked four First Nations artists to display Coast Salish art on utility boxes along Beacon Avenue between Second and Seventh Avenue.
The artists represent three WSANEC First Nations: Charles (Temosen) Elliott from the Tsartlip First Nation, Doug LaFortune and Doug Horne from Tsawout First Nation, and James Jimmy from Tseycum First Nation.
“Sidney has always held a special place in my heart, so I jumped at the opportunity to contribute a piece of public art to the project,” said Elliott, master carver and visual artist.
His piece, titled Seals, can be seen on B.C. Hydro Box 3203, near 2464 Beacon Ave.
Other pieces of his art can be seen nearby at the Mary Winspear Centre, where he has carved three 3.6-metre-tall totem poles, at the Victoria International Airport and at Butchart Gardens.
Another artist featured this year is Jimmy, an independent Coast Salish carver and visual artist born and raised in the Tseycum First Nation.
His piece is Sqto (Raven), found on B.C. Hydro Box 3203, on the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Beacon Avenue.
Jimmy apprenticed under Elliot, with whom he collaborated on the Victoria airport salmon display, a totem pole at the Mary Winspear Centre and a totem pole at the office for the District of North Saanich.
Primary funding for the Utility Box Beautification Project is provided by the Town of Sidney, with participation and sponsorship from local businesses and a B.C. Hydro grant program.
This year, Van Isle Marina has sponsored Horne’s Hummingbird piece, located on B.C. Hydro Box 2451 (near 2297 Beacon Ave.).
LaFortune’s Otters and Blue Heron can be found on B.C. Hydro Box 3203 (near 2488 Beacon Ave.).
• For more information, go to sidney.ca/utilityboxbeautification.
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
Dan Fumano: Questions, shock as art studio's death blamed on COVID-19 – Brockville Recorder and Times
Vancouver artists were devastated this week to learn of a long-running studio’s seemingly abrupt demise and are hoping it’s not too late to prevent yet another loss of crucial art space.
News has been spreading about the imminent closure of William Clark Studios, described as “an institution” of the city’s art scene for more than two decades where about 50 artists rent space. While the building’s managers blamed the facility’s closure this month on losses incurred because of the pandemic, artists who use the space and city staffers told Postmedia they have unanswered questions — as does the commercial landlord who ultimately owns the East Van property.
The disappearance of Vancouver’s cultural spaces is a long-standing problem faced by arts groups and city hall alike, both of whom released reports in the past year on the subject, warning of the risk of becoming “a city without art.”
The scale of this week’s William Clark situation — 50 artists told to vacate with only one month’s notice — makes it one of the biggest single losses in recent memory, said Esther Rausenberg, artistic and executive director of the Eastside Culture Crawl, which has used William Clark Studios in its annual event since its inception in the 1990s.
Vancouver “just can’t afford this type of loss,” Rausenberg said.
Although Vancouver has, sadly, seen many studio closures in recent years, Rausenberg and others agreed the particular case of William Clark seems different.
In Vancouver, as in other cities from San Francisco to Berlin, the biggest culprit in recent loss of art spaces has been real estate development pressures. But in this case, William Clark management blamed COVID-19 for the studio’s closure in a message sent the night of Sunday, May 31, telling artists to clear out by the end of June.
The tenancy arrangement at William Clark Studios is not uncommon for these kinds of art spaces. The property, a warehouse on Clark Drive, is owned by a group of investors, who lease it to William Clark Studios Inc., which then rents studio space to the individual artists.
When artist Janine Breck received the sad news Sunday night in an email from William Clark’s managers, she replied to inquire if her contacts at the city might be able to help save the space. But managers Tina Ozols and Gregg Steffenson replied to Breck saying the closure was a done deal, due to the “unprecedented pandemic event.”
Ozols expressed her sadness about the situation, but said she couldn’t discuss details. “I appreciate the care that people have for this situation, it’s too bad that I can’t really talk about it because it is confidential business,” Ozols said.
Ozols said William Clark was no longer viable after “a handful” of tenants moved out since the start of the COVID pandemic, and management couldn’t fill those spaces.
Dana Cromie, a painter who works at William Clark, said: “This place has been an institution. … It just doesn’t make sense to me to kick everybody out so it can sit empty.”
As is common in these situations, the artists said they had no idea who owned the property, but wondered whether plans might be in the works to redevelop the site.
But that’s not the case here, the landlords say.
Michael Chiang, a representative of the company that owns the property, told Postmedia that while his group might consider redeveloping the property in the future, they have no plans and “no timeline” to do so. Chiang said he only learned of William Clark Studios’ closure when Postmedia asked him about it.
The landlords had offered to waive some of the rent to support William Clark Studios’ application for federal assistance, Chiang said, although it seems the studio may not qualify for that program. The landlord also offered to defer half the rent until “an undetermined time,” Chiang said, but did not get a response from William Clark.
“We understand small businesses are having a tough time during the pandemic and we are trying to help out as much as we can,” Chiang said. “Now I’m finding out they’ve told their tenants over the weekend that they’re getting kicked out. It’s weird, I don’t know.”
The city is also stepping in to see if there’s anything they can do to help save William Clark.
Alix Sales, Vancouver’s head of cultural spaces and infrastructure, said Wednesday her team has been working to track down both the landlords and William Clark management since learning Monday about the “brutal” closure.
“It’s such a big blow, it’s such a critical space,” Sales said.
Sales and her colleague, cultural planner Kristen Lambertson, agreed some of the details and questions surrounding the William Clark closure make it an unusual one.
But, Lambertson pointed out: “We’re also in a very unusual time.”
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