Cezar Salaveria thinks art and design should spark conversation. And what better place to converse than a coffee shop.
So when the former filmmaker turned furniture craftsman found a kindred spirit in restaurateur Rose Samaniego, the wheels were put into motion three years ago to fuse their complementary passions.
But it wasn’t until Samaniego happened to be driving along Port Moody’s Clarke Street last spring the pieces of their shared dream clicked into place.
The Filipino ex-pats have just opened GRIT, their coffee, art and lifestyle shop, in the heritage space formerly occupied by the Silk Gallery.
Salaveria and Samaniego are hoping their venture will help fill the void left by the closure of one of the last commercial galleries in the City of the Arts, as well as the loss of nearby Bistro Gallery in a fire last year, but in a more eclectic, accessible way.
While Samaniego brings her culinary knowledge from running her Kulinarya Filipino restaurants, in Coquitlam and Vancouver, Salaveria curates the decor. Both approach their responsibilities with a sense of fun and discovery.
“When we conceptualized the store, we wanted to get into the human psyche,” Salaveria said. “We wanted to create a character out of a place.”
Think quirky uncle or unconventional aunt.
Much of the furniture is crafted by Salaveria and includes a settee carved from an old fibreglass stand-alone bathtub and a chair comprised of hundreds of individual little planks glued together. Many of the knick-knacks and curios like tin toys, desktop microphones, vintage cameras and rotary dial phones are from his own collection, as is some of the art on the walls.
Salaveria said the hope is, as the shop becomes more known, local artists will be able to showcase their work on the walls.
The goal, he added, is to keep everything fresh, so visitors might see something new or that they hadn’t noticed before, every time they walk through the door.
“There’s a sense of discovery that you never expect to find art in a place like this,” Salaveria said.
Presenting everyday objects like old phones and toy soldiers as art elevates appreciation for the thought and creativity that’s gone into their form and function but also democratizes the idea of what comprises art.
“It’s art they can use,” Samaniego said. “It’s very approachable and relatable, you don’t just look at it. People respond to that.”
• To learn more about GRIT, go to www.gritstudio.ca.
Art as reconciliation: Ymir artist hosting BC Culture Days event – Nelson Star
It took Damian John decades to realize words weren’t always the best way to connect with people.
When John was in his 20s he became woke to the problems of the world and hoped to make a change. In his 30s, having failed to make that change, he struggled with depression and anxiety.
But four years ago the now 43 year old quit his career as a massage therapist to focus on his art. That choice led to an epiphany.
“I think the dialogue that we have with words is limited. You have this understanding of words, I have an understanding of words. Sometimes they don’t match up,” he says.
“We’re really bad at telling each other what we’re feeling and we’re really bad at understanding what the other person is saying to us in general, even with people we know well. So I thought, but what about having art do that for us and being creative with how we speak to each other.”
John, a Ymir-based artist, hopes to meld words and art into a new type of conversation when he hosts a workshop for BC Culture Days on Sept. 26. Jones was the only West Kootenay artist named ambassador to the annual event, which will run Sept. 25 to Oct. 25.
His livestream is titled Exploring Reconciliation Through Creativity, in which John plans to tell the story of how colonization affected his family and people before having participants create art based on the discussion.
A member of Tl’azt’en First Nation near Prince George, John grew up with a family traumatized by the residential school system. His father attended nearby Lejac Residential School, a Catholic-run facility that operated from 1922 to 1976.
The school is partly remembered now for being the place four boys froze to death while trying to escape from in 1937.
“All of my family on that side is directly impacted by colonization, by residential school,” said John, “and that impacts us as his children, that affects nephews and generations that are coming after us. There’s a heavy, heavy impact mentally, health wise, relationally, all of these various components which would take a long time to talk to or speak to in a real strong way.”
First Nations art has always been a part of John’s life. His father brought pieces home, and John was later influenced by artists Robert Sebastian and Roy Henry Vickers.
John’s own art is vibrant, colourful and distinctly modern. In his work he’s found a place to explore his culture and voice concerns while also being in control of the outcome in a way he never felt he could in conversation.
“If I want to have a life that has any feelings of quality to it, I need to shift things,” he says. “So making things that I think are beautiful, and allowing people to engage in that space as well, felt useful.”
That’s how he hopes the people who take his workshop feel after creating their own work. John wants to inspire new ways of discourse about difficult topics despite personal differences, and he thinks art is the key.
“How do we bridge those spaces to come to a place of community and goodwill and conflict resolution?” he says. “In spite of being devastated by all the information out there I still have hope we can do things differently.”
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Outdoor art in a concrete jungle – Excalibur Online
Shaughn Clutchey | Arts Editor
Featured Image: Liz Magor’s “Keep” is located in the Central Square courtyard.
Photo Credit: Excalibur
Between Vari Hall and the Behavioural Sciences building is a set of three stone blocks. Two are made of concrete, and between them is a smaller piece of black cambrian granite.
Inconspicuous in form and inviting as a spot to lean or sit between classes, these blocks are not remnants of ongoing construction or a sort of chic patio furniture. As a unit, these blocks are titled “Noire Solaire, Basse” and were commissioned by Canadian sculptor Jocelyne Alloucherie in 1993.
Jocelyne Alloucherie’s “Noire Solaire, Basse” is located between Vari Hall and the Behavioural Sciences building. (Photo Credit: Excalibur)
“Noire Solaire, Basse” is just one installation in a collection of vibrant outdoor sculptures located across the York campus.
Although York began collecting sculptures as part of a campus beautification initiative in the early 1970s, new relevance has been given to this outdoor art collection in light of the cultural shift influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Modes of art consumption are changing—galleries, theatres, and other venues that have traditionally allowed for a direct, in-person relationship between art and audience can no longer operate in a traditional manner.
Allyson Adley is the collection and education assistant at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU). With much of York’s campus being closed this semester, Adley agrees that the importance of this collection has increased as a reminder of campus community and culture.
“Engaging with artworks outdoors can be a meditative experience,” Adley explains. It can “provide students with an opportunity to slow down and practice mindfulness by observing the artworks and their relationship to the surrounding landscape and architecture.”
A third-year environmental studies student at York, who wishes to remain anonymous, agrees. “I love the idea of having art exhibits on campus,” they say. “It’s important to have art that can inspire or present the opportunity to admire creativity in normally bland areas.”
Mark Di Suvero’s “Sticky Wicket” is located near the Atkinson building. (Photo Credit: Excalibur)
Adley iterates that completing a self-guided tour is a useful way to explore the collection. It is also an opportunity to acquaint or reacquaint with campus.
“Following a self guided tour is an excellent way to get to know the campus and explore our outdoor collection,” Adley says.
Adley adds: “Although the tour can provide information about the artist’s interests and motivations behind the creation of a given work, students are encouraged to consider their own personal responses. What comes to mind when standing next to a work? How does the work make you feel? Instead of relying on prescribed interpretations, can you bring your own perspectives into your process of meaning making and trust your own instincts and insights?”
These interpretations and perspectives can be related to the culture and society COVID-19 has created.
One piece that stands out in this regard is Liz Magor’s “Keep,” conveying the idea of a natural retreat, particularly as a last resource. “Keep” consists of a bronze cast of a willow tree trunk with a rubber sleeping bag protruding from one end.
Liz Magor’s “Keep” is located in the Central Square courtyard. (Courtesy of AGYU)
“The piece speaks of the need to escape from densely inhabited urban settings and find refuge in nature,” Adley explains .
“I think in the current climate and context of the pandemic, social distancing and isolation has not been freely chosen but rather encouraged in communities across the world in an effort to protect people’s health and slow the spread of the virus.”
Powerful and creative art pieces on display in new exhibition – inbrampton.com
Afeefah Haniff, Colored Walls
“Youth are the future and their voices deserve to be heard.”
That’s the main message on display at the newest virtual exhibition from the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA).
Art Voice 2020, which showcases the artistic talents of 70 youth artists in Peel Region, began in June of this year when PAMA sent a virtual call out to artists in the region. What they got back was a huge amount of art pouring in from visual artists, poets, musicians, and spoken word performers.
Rachel Walinga, Kobe
While there was no specific theme for the first year of the project, many artists based their works on timely themes including protests against anti-Black racism, police brutality, Islamophobia, environmental degradation, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are also themes of beauty, love, power, vulnerability, resilience, unity, defiance, challenging stereotypes, explorations of identities, and hope.
PAMA’s fifth virtual exhibition during the closure of the facility due to COVID-19, it was created in partnership with the Regional Diversity Roundtable.
“I am stunned by the wealth of talent that our youth have! The themes that I felt emerged from the submissions were nature and its amazing colours and portraits. We witnessed many self-portraits or reflections of oneself in others,” said Loloa Alkasawat, a Regional Diversity Roundtable Community Leadership Program ambassador.
Ashley Beerdat, Battle of Benento
When asked what the stand-outs were, fellow program ambassador Anupama Aery said Marissa’s spoken word piece powerfully describes the experience of violence against Black youth and its impact on the community.
“This piece highlights the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the need to address the systemic racism within our society,” said Aery.
Peel Art Gallery Museum Art Voice: Marissa
There’s also Salimah Husain’s powerful spoken word piece entitled “Judge Me,” which describes the consequences of Islamophobia and the experience of being discriminated against due to visible markers of Muslim identity.
Peel Art Gallery Museum Art Voice: Salimah Husain
Chelsea Coleman’s scratchboard art piece entitled “Queen” depicts a side portrait of a beautiful Black woman, emanating strength and confidence.
Chelsea Coleman, Queen
Rand Salamkhan’s painting depicts a forest of trees with colourful skies, leaves, and streams of light that have a beautiful, dream-like quality. “This piece represented feelings of hope for me,” Aery said.
Rand Salamkhan, Sunset Vibes
“One that resonated with me personally was the artwork Right Before Our Eyes from Mariam Elehamed, which resonated with me being of Syrian origin and having experienced the war on Syria,” said Alkasawat.
“It is a portrait of a group of people seeking refuge in a boat – although she does not show a boat – and their oblique journey. Their faces, through expressionless, also reveal sadness and hope at the same time.”
Mariam Elehamed, Right Before Our Eyes
Those are just a few pieces – there are many more to discover! Residents are invited to tune into the premier special event during Culture Days weekend on Saturday, September 26 at 2 pm @visitPAMA on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and they encourage you to share your feedback and questions about the exhibition. Be sure to also join in the conversation online with the hashtags #ArtVoicePeel and #YouthArt.
Abdul Rahman Najjari, Untitled
Residents can also follow along at culturedays.ca/en/events and create alongside PAMA as they focus on a series of online portrait activities each week during Culture Days (September 25 to October 25).
For those who prefer a non-virtual experience, PAMA is expecting to reopen its doors in late fall! For more information, check out pama.peelregion.ca and follow PAMA on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
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