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WATCH: Salmon Arm artist hosts virtual art show amid COVID-19 – Kelowna Capital News

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Many events have been cancelled or postponed in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, but nothing can stop Salmon Arm artist Roxi Hermsen from paying tribute to her father through her paintings.

Hermsen’s father, Bill Sim, passed away last summer. Sim founded the Okanagan Science Centre, based in Vernon.

Hermsen’s show ‘Into the Cosmos’ was inspired by her father’s fascination with science, space, and the cosmos, as well as her experiences in Grenada and seeing the people’s resilience after Hurricane Ivan devastated the country in 2004.

Her tribute show was originally scheduled to open on April 3 at Nadine’s Fine Arts in Vernon, but was called off as widespread closures and cancellations swept across the province.

To keep herself and others safe, Hermsen opted to show her art through Facebook Live.

Instead of having summaries posted beside the paintings, she talked about the inspiration behind each painting and the message she hopes people will take from it.

Hermsen also talked about the Science Centre’s beginnings.

“He (Sim) started out small in his garage and he got a few people on board, then more people on board… he started it from nothing with nothing,” she said.

“His goal was to make it world-class. And he’s the guy that went down to (science centres) in Vancouver and Edmonton so if you had a membership at the Science Centre here, you can get in free in Vancouver. He made those kinds of connections.”

“(The Science Centre) is a real family thing but also a huge community thing because so many people in the community were involved and it’s just been amazing. So hopefully, when this is all over, we can start up again.”

The last piece in Hermsen’s show, titled ‘The Ripple Effect, Two Ducks in McGuire Lake, has been donated for a silent auction, with the proceeds going to the Marg and Bill Sim Memorial Scholarship through the Okanagan Science Centre. Other pieces in the collection will also be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Science Centre.

During this time of financial difficulty, Hermsen encouraged people to support artists however way they can.

“Support your artists. They’re really having a hard time right now. Some of them offer online classes, take those online classes. Art is a wonderful therapy. Do art with your kids. You can go to my website and download colouring sheets for free. Art is very good therapy in dark times, especially if you’re in close quarters… let art uplift you, because it really does that.”

For more information on Roxi and her art, visit her site.

READ: Shuswap residents respond to health workers’ need for personal protective equipment

READ: Shuswap artist dedicates show to father, Okanagan Science Centre founder


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan

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N.B. art festival shifts gears to accommodate for physical-distancing – CTV News

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SAINT JOHN —
A popular New Brunswick art festival has shifted its format this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

THIRD SHIFT is a contemporary art festival organized by the artist-run Third Space Gallery in Saint John.

“The mandate of the gallery is to transform unused spaces, or to reimagine different spaces in the uptown and beyond, to be an outdoor gallery space,” says Abigail Smith, festival associate.

THIRD SHIFT is in its sixth year and has drawn thousands of people to the city of Saint John.

The festival is usually a one-night only event, however, this year it will run for an entire week to accommodate for physical-distancing.

“The idea is that instead of having one event that happens for a few hours for one night, that if you’re not there you miss it, the idea is with the expansion of the festival, in terms of time and in terms of space, that we’ll prevent gathering that way,” says Katie Buckley, the executive director of Third Space Gallery.

“I think it’s really kind of a staple in the summer calendar in Saint John, so we’re really happy that we’re not cancelled and we’re going ahead in a new way.”

This year’s festival will showcase a series of temporary public art installations, along with digital programming.

“It actually has opened up a lot of possibility of having artists across Canada participate because so much of it is going to be online,” says Smith.

The THIRD SHIFT Festival will take place from August 21 to 28.

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Vankleek Hill Art Show and Scavenger Hunt festival to entertain for entire month of June

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Artists in Vankleek Hill are banding together in the month of June to help fill in the gaps caused by the cancellation of most of the annual local festivals in the town.

The 2020 Vankleek Hill Walking Art Tour and Scavenger Hunt will take place the during the entire month of June with window displays in local businesses, Arbor Gallery and even the some of the artists’ own homes. Art lovers can start the tour at the by picking up a map located in the mailbox on the Arbor Gallery porch (at 36 Home Avenue in Vankleek Hill), view the artwork on display there, and then head out through town on the tour.

The idea first came about after the cancellation of Vankleek Hill’s annual May Show, in which local artists play a large part. That and cancellations of many local festivals this summer prompted local artists to try to fill the gap.

“We’ve lost a lot of our festivals and this is a real heartbreak for Vankleek Hill because people depend on them,” says Jill Crosby, one of the organizers of the event and whose artwork will be among the displays. “This event will allow the viewing of artwork by local artists and artwork while safely social distancing,”

Crosby and several other local artists, including Lorie Turpin, Reenie Marx and Susan Jephcott, have been busy planning displays for the event and contacting local businesses about the idea. Currently there are nine artists in total signed up and seven locations in place. Organizers hope to end up with 10-12 artists featuring displays in 10 different locations. A full list of artists and locations will be available on The Review website.

As to what each artist will decide to display – it could be anything:

“It is pretty much free form,” Crosby says. “The artists will be paired with a location and window and they will decide what they want to show.”

Participants in the tour will also have a challenge to complete in the form of a scavenger hunt. Included on the map for the tour will be questions about the displays or Vankleek Hill landmarks. This has been added as a way to keep children on the tour entertained as they can search for the answers to the questions at various locations throughout town while their parents view the artwork on display.

The idea for the Vankleek Hill Art Show and Scavenger Hunt has been received with a great deal of enthusiasm from local businesses, who have been mostly idle during the shutdown for COVID-19. The festival itself is designed to bring traffic to storefronts as businesses prepare to open up, and also help to promote the individual locations. Small business retailers in particular have responded enthusiastically to the idea.

“The stores are saying ‘bring on the artwork!’” says Crosby.

One of Vankleek Hill’s best-known artists, Susan Jephcott, will have two displays – one in the window of the Three Owls Studio Gallery in her Main Street home and a second at The Pantry. The display at Jephcott’s home will be of a stained glass depiction of the Town of Vankleek Hill, done by Dodie Dines. It is a piece that Jephcott’s absolutely loves.

“Dodie’s stained glass is very special,” said Jephcott, who acquired the original artwork several years ago and believes local residents will be thrilled by the piece. “A lot of people have not seen it and I think they should, because it is amazing.”

Jephcott will be displaying her own artwork in the window of The Pantry, including her most recent work ‘The David Bowie Spider Spirit Chair’, which she says “just came out of left field. (The chair) was painted white and just made me think of David Bowie.”

Photographer and artist Reenie Marx -who along with Crosby will be displaying in windows at Arbor Gallery – is also excited about the show.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to have family groups and friends walking around town with the chance to discover artwork hanging in windows,” Marx says, noting the tour and scavenger hunt will provide much more for those who take part than just a normal walk around town. “It gives people a kind of direction in their walking as opposed to just meandering.”

More information on the 2020 Vankleek Hill Walking Art Tour and Scavenger Hunt will be posted on The Review’s website as it becomes available. Those who wish to take the tour can do so by just going to the Arbor Gallery beginning June 1 and picking up a map from the mailbox located on the gallery’s porch at 36 Home Avenue in Vankleek Hill.

In the meantime, here is a sneak peak of the map. You can print it out at home and head out on the town, while practising physical distancing!


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Edited by Harry Miller

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New Westminster teacher stunned by children's pandemic art – The Record (New Westminster)

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Sara Fox, 62, teaches grade 3-4 in a small public school at Connaught Elementary School New Westminster.

On March 13, Fox’s 23 students hustled out the classroom door to start their two-week spring break. 

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On March 17, Fox received an e-mail from the Superintendent of Schools announcing an “indefinite suspension of all in-class instruction for BC’s K-12 learners” due to the spread of COVID-19.

Until further notice, the curriculum would be delivered via remote learning, using “web-based technology”.

In BC, the curriculum for elementary schoolchildren includes science, social studies, math, language arts, and fine arts.

In Fox’s school, the fine arts teacher was working full time educating the children of essential workers – so Fox had a choice: kill the art program or teach it herself.

“I can’t even draw a stick figure,” admitted Fox, “I flat-out panicked”.

After Googling “How to teach art when you can’t do it” Fox came on the idea of asking the children the recreate a famous painting using their stuffies, dolls, pets or Lego.

“To get things going, I dressed up a raccoon puppet like the Mona Lisa,” explains Fox. “At least I knew my effort wouldn’t intimidate them.  It was pathetic. I had a sinking feeling the project would fall flat. I had already mentally written them a note saying, ‘Let’s not worry about art’”.

Submitted

An hour later, the first slide appeared. Angelica (9) took the American painting American Gothic and renamed it, “Stuffy Gothic 2020”.  The somber pitchfork replaced with a jaunty dining-room utensil.

“’Stuffie Gothic’ make me laugh,” admitted Fox. “Angelica told me she’d used an iPad to create the background.  I was relieved to have received a single entry. None of the online challenges are mandatory. I didn’t expect to receive another entry.”

Thirty minutes later, Fox’s laptop beeped.

A second student had submitted art.

“Dogs Playing Poker” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge features seven boozy dogs scrutinising their cards – a grandfather clock looming in the background.

Fox’s student Kai (8) had reimagined the work with mini-yogurts substituting for whiskey glasses.  Like a pro set decorator, he positioned a dining room clock artfully in the corner of the frame.

“In the painting, there’s poker chips in the middle of the table,” explained Kai during a video conference, “We don’t have a poker chips, so I used potato chips”.

“Is that clever?” asks Fox with naked excitement, “I think it is.”

Soon a third entry arrived.

In Afarin Sajedi’s original painting “Red Offer” – a stoic woman with blush on her cheeks is penetrated superficially by a fork.  Fox’s student Rowan (9) recreated the effect with her Mother’s make-up and scotch tape.

“At this point I starting to realise these young people had gifts that I wasn’t aware of,” confesses Fox.

Then a fourth entry came in.

And a fifth.

And a sixth.

And a seventh.

new west art
Submitted

“By the time I received ‘Doll with Watering Can’ I saw the children’s art – not as evidence of a hidden talent – but as natural extensions of who they are,” stated Fox.

“Sevilla is a grade four student who is meticulous in all her work. In math and science, she has a great eye for detail, no matter what she’s doing.”

Fox mused that Sevilla must have hunted for a curved pathway. Dressed her doll in a billowing blue frock with a matching ribbon. The doll looks simultaneously hesitant and receptive – just like Renoir’s girl.

“I don’t create art, because I’m 100% sure I’m bad at it,” stated Fox, “But if I’m doing my job right, my students won’t carry those negative thoughts.  I always tell them they can do anything. I guess they believed me!”

On Monday, June 1st, all K-5 BC teachers will return half-time to the classroom.  Fox anticipates 40% of her students will return to the classroom.

She will continue to teach the other students on line. 

About the author: Guy Bennett is a financial writer who lives in Vancouver, BC.  His sister Sara Fox, is the subject of this article.

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