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Using art to conquer COVID blues – Campbell River Mirror – Campbell River Mirror



Art has a way of bringing people together, even when they’re apart.

It also, as it turns out, is one way people in Campbell River have been coping with the stresses of the last year.

With ever-changing restrictions on what we can and can’t do, where we can and can’t go and who we can and can’t see, at least one thing has remained constant: the increasing number of people who are exploring their creative side.

Eleven months ago, as the reality of the global pandemic was setting in, Nadia Rieger, owner and teacher at The Crows Nest Artist Collective in Willow Point, was scared the business she’d worked so hard to start – and then expand – would soon come to an end.

The bulk of Crows Nest’s revenue was in hosting relatively large groups of people for art classes in various mediums. That suddenly came to a screeching halt when gathering restrictions began to be put in place by the provincial health officer.

“My business has always been in educating people,” Rieger says. “But that part of what I do had to be rolled back substantially. I had to do a total 180, because I had to take the largest part of my business – and how the business was succeeding – and change it entirely. I had groups of 45 people booked to do classes right before the pandemic hit – I had five of those booked – and then suddenly we were told it couldn’t be more than six people at a time.”

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But people kept coming in for art supplies to make art at home.

She didn’t have a ton of art supplies – she had a few, but that wasn’t really her focus – so she started ordering more. She also started offering her classes in a video format and selling the kits people would need to accomplish what she was teaching. She found herself having trouble keeping up with the demand for products because she had been so focused on in-house teaching since she started the business.

“If the Crows Nest was going to survive, we had to pivot hard, and it was clear that the need we were going to have to help fill was providing ways for people to make art at home, and we’re happy to have been able to do that.

“Ultimately, we are surviving because people need art right now. 100 per cent.”

Ken Blackburn, executive director of the Campbell River Arts Council, thinks he knows why that is. Why do people need art right now, maybe more than ever?

“There’s one word that has a lot of different connotations as to why I think that the arts are being seen as having more value right now, and that’s the word ‘connection,’” Blackburn says. “Connection goes a few ways. The arts in a community works to connect us. That’s what it does, whether it’s dance, theatre, music, visual art, whatever. That’s why it’s such a key component within communities: they connect us.”

But even when the arts can’t connect us literally, there’s another “connection” they serve.

“The other thing they do is make a personal connection,” Blackburn says. “They connect us to ourselves, or to our childhood, or to a time that we saw ourselves with more freedom and liberation. Art takes us out of our stresses, our work routines, or in this case, our isolations.”

But using art to heal and provide emotional support isn’t a new idea, nor is it unique to periods of isolation – or a pandemic.

“Art Therapy has a long history as a discipline, and the therapeutic value of the arts has been well documented,” Blackburn says. “I’ve been giving talks about this at conferences for over 15 years and talking about (the art council’s) Art in Health initiative at the hospital. There’s no shortage of research – across the entire breadth of the arts, whether it’s visual arts or music or dance – of the therapeutic value of the arts. Medical schools are even starting to introduce it into their training programs.”

And based on the art he’s seen that has been produced within the community over the past year, he can see the difference a pandemic has made. He was recently part of hanging the annual Members’ Show – which he has done for the past 15-plus years – and says there are new names he didn’t recognize, and it’s “probably also the strongest Members’ Show I’ve seen.”

RELATED: Art Gallery director reflects on ‘maybe our hardest year ever’

“It would be an interesting exercise to sit in there for a couple of hours with that critical eye and try to figure out, ‘Is there something COVID here?’ that over-arches the show?”

But if others are experiencing their own art like he’s been experiencing his own, he thinks it’s likely.

“Personally, I’ve returned into landscape as a coping mechanism,” he says. “I’m seeing in landscape the unpredictability of landscape – and of the sky, in particular – and that’s been reflecting how I feel about the world right now.”

His hope now, however, is that people’s love and embracing of art doesn’t slip away with the virus.

“It will be essentially important to hold onto this,” he says. “Anybody who thinks we should go back to the way things were before COVID is delusional, what with all of the problems we already had. We want to shift the status quo now that we have that opportunity, and one of the ways we can do that, significantly, within the community, is to have more connection.

“And that’s what the arts do.”

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Art Beat: 2021 writers' festival looking up – Coast Reporter



The cancellation of the 2020 Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts (SCFWA) left a big cultural gap in a year full of them, and this year is still littered with question marks about local arts and entertainment. But word is that the festival looks more likely to happen than not, depending. (That d-word seems mandatory in 2021.) “The ground we walk upon is not quite settled as we await vaccines and keep an eye on the COVID-19 variants,” festival producer Jane Davidson wrote in the SCFWA February newsletter. “Our plan for the summer of 2021 is based on our ability to gather in groups of up to 50. We are hopeful that restrictions will relax enough to allow us to do at least that and we hope they relax even more to allow us to increase that number,” Davidson said. “Compliance with public health guidelines and safety will lead our way forward.”

The extra good news is that festival events would not be confined to a weekend in August. “Our plan is to produce a summertime Sunday afternoon series of readings from July 4 to August 8. On Festival weekend, we will have 7 p.m. events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (August 13, 14, and 15) and 2 p.m. events on the Saturday and Sunday. That’s 11 events in total with capacity for an audience of 42-44,” the newsletter said. Also, “[e]very event will be recorded by a professional videographer and the entire series (July 4 to Aug. 15) will be posted online as a virtual Festival for the last two weeks of August.” Fingers crossed. Davidson provides several more details about the current 2021 plans at

Shout Out

It soon will be time again for the annual youth arts show at Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG). The show, Shout Out! 2021, is open to all Sunshine Coast residents age two to 18. “Participating youth may submit up to two pieces of artwork in any medium (drawings, painting, prints, mixed media, photography, animation, video, sculpture, etc.),” gallery manager Christina Symons said in a release. Submission forms and artwork may be dropped off at the gallery at 431 Marine Drive in Gibsons starting March 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The deadline is 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 7. More information and submission forms can be found at The show runs from March 11 to April 4.

Space is limited in Art Beat but please let us know about your events at

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Focus – Looking back at the Arab Spring: The role of art and music – FRANCE 24



Issued on: 25/02/2021 – 16:23Modified: 25/02/2021 – 16:29

Ten years ago, the winds of change swept across several Arab nations, from Tunisia to Yemen via Egypt. The desire for political change was also expressed through art and music, which became vehicles for political ideas and the hopes and dreams of millions. Anmar Hijazi and Wassim Cornet look back at some of the highlights from the arts and culture world during the Arab Spring.


Programme prepared by Rebecca Martin and Wassim Cornet.

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Oil heiress’s $150-million art collection could ease a market crunch – Financial Post



Thanks to trepidation over online-only transactions, top-tier artworks are in short supply at auction

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This spring, Sotheby’s New York will auction off about US$150-million worth of art and jewels from the estate of the late oil heiress Anne Marion, who died last year.

Consisting of multiple blue-chip artworks that remained in Marion’s collection for decades, the sale comes at a time when, thanks to trepidation over online-only transactions, top-tier artworks are in short supply at auction.

Marion, who inherited a Texas oil fortune built on a Texas ranching fortune, was president of Burnett Oil Company, Burnett Ranches, and the Burnett Foundation in Fort Worth, Texas.

A major philanthropist, she founded the private Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe in 1997 with US$10 million in seed money. She also spearheaded the US$65 million expansion of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and served for a period of time as a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Through her charitable donations, Marion gave away more than US$600 million.

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Lifelong collector

All the while, Marion was acquiring art for herself.

“She was a lifelong, passionate collector,” says Michael Macaulay, a senior vice president and senior international specialist for contemporary art at Sotheby’s. The works coming to auction, he continues, “were mostly acquired in the 1980s and some in the 1990s.”

Roughly 200 lots from Marion’s collection will be included multiple sales, Macaulay says. Eighteen of the top artworks will be featured in a standalone evening sale; the rest, including a standalone jewelry sale featuring a pair of emerald and diamond ear clips that carry a US$150,000 high estimate, will be spread across 2021.

Marion is survived by her husband John Marion, the former chairman and chief auctioneer of Sotheby’s North America, whom she married in 1988.

Top lots

The top lot of the entire sale is a work by the Abstract Expressionist painter Clyfford Still, PH-125 (1948-No. 1)  from 1948. Estimated between US$25 million and US$35 million, the work is a rare instance of the artist’s output coming to market: Approximately 95 per cent of everything he ever created resides in the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.

There’s also a Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park No. 40 from 1971, estimated between US$20 million and US$30 million, which Macaulay says Marion acquired in the early 1980s.

An abstract painting by Gerhard Richter from 1992 “is a bit of an outlier,” Macaulay says, insofar as Marion purchased in 2012 at Sotheby’s fairly late in her life. “It’s representative of her lifelong passion for collecting,” he says, “in that she never stopped.”

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Marion bought the work for US$16.9 million; currently, it’s estimated between US$14 million and US$18 million, an estimate that reflects a softening of Richter’s market.

Similarly, Sotheby’s will be selling a Warhol Double Elvis from 1963, which carries an estimate of US$20 million to US$30 million. The Warhol market has been depressed for more than half a decade, Macaulay acknowledges, but cautions against reading into overall numbers too much.

“Yes, there’s been an absence of many big prices [for Warhol] for a number of years,” he says. “But that’s not exclusively representative of demand, it’s also ‘Well, where is the supply for outstanding, top-tier early 1960s icons of pop art?’ And it’s pretty thin.”

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