At a time when no one could predict how long lockdown would be in effect and the world seemed to hold its breath, one woman had a vision: to create a mural that would inspire hope.
Merril Hall, a longtime New Westminster resident and facilitator of public art projects, was commissioned by the Arts Council of New Westminster to create an art project that could be accomplished within social distancing guidelines and eventually become an installation in one of the city’s public spaces.
Now New Westminster residents are invited to check out the result of that work with a new exhibition at the Anvil Centre, Aug. 10 to 27.
Hall is facilitator of the Garden Gals, a group of active sketchers and painters who share a passion for art in nature and who are all avid gardeners. Hall invited those artists to help create a mural project that would include images that evoke sentiments like thoughtfulness, kindness and appreciation.
Each painter created in isolation and was left to their own devices to choose a colour palette and format for their canvas. The only instruction was that each must include a heart and a flower and present an interpretation of the theme of Positivity During COVID-19.
With titles like Hopeful Heart, Downside Up, and The Window Between Us, the paintings carry the artists’ messages of how positivity can be witnessed in the world around us – and specifically right here in New West.
The mural project came about through the arts council’s Seniors Expressions Through the Arts program; the program’s advisory committee recommended it as a way to memorialize the experiences of living through the pandemic.
The mural is now being displayed in partnership with the Anvil Centre, thanks to an opportunity that’s available because of the facility’s closure. The paintings will be viewable through the centre’s ground-floor windows along Columbia Street.
“This is a unique way to showcase this timely project while the facility is closed,” said Todd Ayotte, manager of community art and theatres for the City of New Westminster.
Ayotte noted plans are underway to reopen the community art gallery at the Anvil Centre later in the fall.
For now, everyone is invited to turn out on Columbia Street to see the works; viewers are reminded to keep their distance and be responsible when occupying sidewalk space to view them.
After the exhibition, the paintings will be fused together to become an original mural.
“If we had all been together, I would have set the colour palette and drawn up the plan,” Hall said. “This way, each artist had their own freedom to choose their own way to connect with the theme. We thought of this as patchwork that would only all come together when the canvases were completed. In the end, we all feel incredibly proud of the work we were able to accomplish apart, together.”
High end art stolen In Silver Lady Lane break-in – BayToday.ca
Not many details yet, but City Police are investigating the theft of several high-end pieces of art from a Silver Lady Lane home this morning.
Items include a 2’x3′ Jan Van Kessel painting, Limoges casket, 6″ blue/gold plate, and 6″ aventurine brush washer.
Silver Lady Lane runs off Trout Lake Road and a number of expensive and exclusive houses sit on the shores of Trout Lake.
Police are asking for the public’s help.
Jan van Kessel was a Flemish painter active in Antwerp in the mid 17th century.
Wikipedia says he was a versatile artist and he practiced in many genres including studies of insects, floral still lifes, marines, river landscapes, paradise landscapes, allegorical compositions, and scenes with animals.
Van Kessel’s works were highly prized by his contemporaries and were collected by skilled artisans, wealthy merchants, nobles, and foreign luminaries throughout Europe.
North Bay Police investigating theft of several high-end pieces of art from a Silver Lady Lane residence this morning. Items include a 2’x3′ Jan Van Kessel painting, Limoges casket, 6″ blue/gold plate, and 6″ aventurine brush washer.
Please call with any information. #5555
— North Bay Police (@NorthBayPolice) September 19, 2020
Toronto's outdoor museum for street art is a perfect activity for these pandemic times – blogTO
All murals can be explored virtually on the museum’s website, which includes info about the works and artists.
It was inspired by similar public space projects in places like The Bronx and Berlin.
One of the new initiatives from the museum is an app that you can download to your phone and use to make your way among the murals, finding out information about each piece and the artists that created it as you go.
As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, finding safe, outdoor activities in Toronto is on many people’s to-do list and this outdoor museum might just be one that’s perfectly suited to the times.
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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