(photo from jccgv.com)
The upcoming show at the Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery, which features 45 community artists who have donated their work, is a fundraiser for the gallery.
“The idea for the show belongs to Shirley Barnett,” said gallery director Linda Lando in an interview with the Independent. “We wanted to showcase the works of the people who do art for the joy of it, not professional artists. Shirley also made a donation towards the show.”
Lando explained the process leading to the exhibit, which opens Aug. 31.
“I purchased 45 11-by-14-inch wood panels and sent a group email to the gallery email list. The artists got the panels for free and, if their art sells, they will get a tax receipt. The price for every piece is the same, $125, and the proceeds of all sales will go to the gallery. The theme of this art show is ‘Renewal.’ It’s a very broad theme that allows for many interpretations.”
Lando doesn’t think that the universal size and shape of the panels limits artists’ creativity. “Just the opposite: it’s a challenge.”
The response to the email was overwhelming. Lando had to turn away people who wanted to participate. The demographics of the show’s contributors are broad.
“A lot of word of mouth helped spread the news about the show,” she said. “Among our participants are people who are involved with the gallery, some who exhibited with us before, while others haven’t. There are several poets from the Pandora Collective, members and non-members of the JCC and some mother-daughter duos. Most of them are not professional artists, but the works that have already started to arrive are amazing and very diverse. I hope we sell most of them.”
The Independent spoke with a few of the exhibit’s artists.
“I have always been interested in arts: painting, poetry, etc.,” said Carl Rothschild, a child psychiatrist with more than 40 years of experience, who is about to retire. “I published two books of my poetry and visual arts.”
Rothschild considers himself an amateur artist but he has already participated in several shows at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver and sold a few paintings. When Lando asked him to participate in the fundraiser, he was thrilled. His piece is already at the gallery.
“I decided to participate in this show because I am always painting and because Linda asked me,” he said. “My small piece is called ‘The Backyard Garden in a Box.’ I am endlessly fascinated by the little landscapes around me. My small garden, with crocosmia flowers, attracts a hummingbird each summer. Sometimes, the bird comes with his mate and, on this occasion, as I stood motionless and watched, he came over and hovered for a few seconds about a foot from my head before passing me as safe.”
Another participant, Liz Koerner, retired a few years ago from working in a law office. “I am a professional artist in the sense that I get paid for some of my work, but I started down this path as a hobby,” she said. “Over the past 15 years, I have done dozens of commissions.”
Like the other contributors, Koerner learned about the show from Lando’s email. “I met Linda years ago, when I would take my mother into her gallery, and they always had lively discussions about the paintings and the artists. My mother has since passed on and, at her request, we gave Linda a number of art books from her collection.”
When Koerner decided to participate in Renewal, she chose the theme of spring. “Spring is a wonderful time of renewal and rebirth in nature,” she explained. “My painting is almost done. I needed to leave it while I complete a rush commission, then I will get back to it and finish it soon.”
Sandi Bojm’s piece is also a work in progress. She works part-time as a speech language pathologist and as a therapist, which allows her the time to explore her other interests, including art and writing. “I don’t consider myself an amateur artist; nor am I a professional,” she said. “Perhaps chronically ‘emerging.’”
Over the years, Bojm has taken art classes at Langara College and with private mentors. She met Lando through the Zack Gallery.
“I support the gallery and participated in last year’s community show/fundraiser,” she said. “Linda and I have shared ideas this past year for the next upcoming show, regarding community engagement and participation, and, at the same time, offering a fundraising opportunity for the gallery. It is exciting that it is now coming to fruition.”
Her own piece will be an amalgam of abstract and landscape. “I have just completed an intensive painting workshop on abstraction of the landscape and decided to expand on that,” said Bojm. “I have been intrigued in the past, in my walks through the woods, with the presence of logs and stumps that have nurtured new growth; nursing logs, I believe they are called. This is the image I am exploring in its relationship to renewal.”
A show as a gallery fundraiser is not a new concept. The Federation of Canadian Artists, for example, holds their fundraiser, Paintings by Numbers, annually, but their event is much more expensive for art lovers, and they feature well-known and established artists in their galas.
“Giving the local community artists the opportunity to shine, and making all the paintings affordable to everyone might be unique in Canada,” said Lando. “The idea was not only to engage the community artists but to bring in their families and friends to the gallery, to show them that it is their gallery, too.”
Renewal will run to Sept. 11. There is a free reception at the Zack, with the artists in attendance, on Sept. 8, starting at 7 p.m.
Olga Livshin is a Vancouver freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].