“At Rest” by Dov Glock, mixed media. Glock is one of several Jewish artists participating in this year’s West of Main Art Walk. (from artistsinourmidst.com)
The West of Main Art Walk Preview Exhibition and Sale kicks off at the Roundhouse Community Centre May 18-19. The West of Main Art Walk itself welcomes guests into artists’ studios May 28-29. Among the artists participating are many from the Jewish community, including Michael Abelman, Olga Campbell, Dov Glock, Pnina Granirer and Lauren Morris.
The preview – which is open for visitors 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days – features a reception at the Roundhouse on May 19, 7-9 p.m. Preview visitors will be able to buy the work of some of the 80 local artists taking part. There will be paintings, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and photography, as well as free art demos.
Artwork will also be for sale on the walk, which includes studios from Point Grey to Main Street, and from Granville Island to 41st Avenue over the May 28-29 weekend. Dozens more artists are showing their works all under one roof in larger hubs like Aberthau Mansion, Art at Knox and Pacific Arts Market. There, you’ll also find art demonstrations and more. At Lord Byng Mini School for the Arts, you’ll discover young emerging artists.
Also part of the month’s events is the annual (since 2018) Art for All Fundraiser. More than 70 artworks have been donated – and all are on sale for $50 each. Proceeds will go to the art program at Coast Mental Health. Its resource centre’s art room opened in 2000, and is a place where clients discover their creative potential while developing new ways of expressing emotions, healing pain and growing their self-esteem and self-awareness. Supported by volunteers – including clients and professional artists and art instructors – who give their time, feedback and encouragement, clients are able to work in a number of media, including paint and sculpture; supplies are provided. An annual art show brings together the artists, other resource centre members and Coast clients, family and friends and the general public to celebrate their work and their journey towards recovery.
Granirer, who was a co-founder of the very first open studios walk in Vancouver in 1993, is doing something a little different from the main event. On May 18, 7 p.m., at the Roundhouse, she is launching her poetry-art memoir, Garden of Words. (For more on the book, see jewishindependent.ca/poetry-and-painting-flourish.) Some of the paintings featured in the book will be exhibited and the books will be available during the whole time of the preview and at Granirer’s studio during the walk weekend.
During the walk, Granirer is inviting people to her studio, where she will be offering her works for 50% off, with proceeds being donated to Stand up for Mental Health, which has helped people suffering from mental health issues to do away with stigma all over Canada, the United States and Australia.
Artists will be opening their studios from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 28 and 29. This is a unique opportunity to meet the artists, enjoy the art and ask questions. More information and the interactive online map can be found at artistsinourmidst.com.
– Courtesy Artists in Our Midst and Pnina Granirer
Shira Gold’s photographs seem to create a break in the space-time continuum. For a moment, the busyness and noise of the world fades away, and the viewer is standing on a beach watching the light and shadows of the clouds over the ocean, or in a snowy field, inhaling the crisp, cool air. A quiet contentment, a sombre joy.
Gold is one of some 30 artists joining the West of Main Art Walk for the first time this year. More than 60 artists will open their homes or studios to the public over the Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-12. Several other Jewish community members are also participating, including Michael Abelman, Olga Campbell, Pnina Granirer, Lauren Morris and Rae Maté, some of whom have been involved from the beginning in what used to be called Artists in Our Midst – Granirer co-founded the walk with Anne Adams in 1993.
“Crissy Arseneau and I were invited to join in by our All Together Collective partner painter Amy Stewart,” Gold told the Independent. “We are reuniting at Amy’s studio on Granville Island for the weekend of the walk. I chose to participate because showing locally is something that is important to me. The walk is a unique way to see the immense talent of creators that live in our city. The types of work being shown will be so diverse, crossing many mediums, and the artists vary from emerging to seasoned Vancouver talent. I also love the idea of being able to visit artists in the spaces they create their work in.”
While there is a preview exhibit and sale on May 9 at the Roundhouse Community Centre, with donated artwork being sold to raise money for Coast Mental Health’s art programs, some artists are raising money for other projects over the weekend. Granirer, for example, is offering her works at 50% off as a fundraiser for Stand Up for Mental Health, which was started by her son, David Granirer, to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, among other things. Gold will be selling her fabric-based prints May 11-12, with proceeds going to the Children’s Arts Umbrella Foundation in honour of her mother, Melanie, z’l, “paying tribute to her work in helping shape the school in its early years.”
Growing up, Gold took classes in various visual and performing arts at Arts Umbrella. “I was introduced to photography at Arts Umbrella in my early teens, when they began courses in film photography and darkroom,” she said. “As a child, words and pencils often failed me. Capturing and making images was a way for me to express my view of the world. Having a camera in hand changed the trajectory of my life.”
However, Gold said, “I pushed pause on photography for several years and turned my attention towards fashion design. I worked in design and manufacturing in Montreal, which ended abruptly when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I took on the role as her caregiver for three years, until her passing. During that time, she and I began to recognize the immense need for patients and caregivers to learn how to engender support around their illnesses, learn advocating strategies and engage in mind/body medical tools to help support a positive mindset through health challenges. We began to develop offerings to meet these needs.
“My mom passed away before this was fully realized. Along with my husband, I gleaned the knowledge through personal experience, as well as course work at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard’s continuing medical classes … to write and complete a workbook/guidebook entitled Choosing Joy’s Empowerment Index. Not long after completing the book, I became pregnant with my first child. It was a time of great introspection. I began to recognize that the pursuit of Choosing Joy was a way for me to keep my mom’s memory alive and not a personal pursuit and decided to change paths. We chose to donate the books created to nonprofits that could share them with people in need.”
About her choice of a new path, Gold said, “Care-giving, grief, new motherhood – those collective experiences reshaped my outlook on how I chose to spend my days and I was ready to begin to deconstruct and share my experiences with others in the hopes of creative dialogue around common issues of struggle and transition. I started my first major body of work – ‘Reflect, Transform, Become’ – as I was preparing to welcome my second child.
“Shot over several years, taking a handful more to complete, the series of 18 women documents the trials and metamorphoses that come with new motherhood, as well as the challenges of experiencing new life without my mother in it,” she said. “This reclaiming of my visual voice shaped my identity as I settled into motherhood. The release of this work was a turning point in my life.”
“Reflect, Transform, Become” has been recognized with honourable mentions from the International Photography Awards and the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. Her series “Good Grief,” which she describes as “a visual dissertation of my grief journey,” has had selections shown in Italy, Greece, the United States and here in Vancouver. Locals will recognize many of the places Gold has photographed.
“In fact,” she said, “the majority of my work is shot within 10 minutes from my children’s school. Some may perceive the limitations of time and spaces as prohibitive to their creative process, but I like to look at it as an advantage. My reality creates parameters which have enabled me to hone my eye and find moments that are meaningful to me, often minute and fleeting.”
As for the ways in which Judaism or Jewish community influence her approach, Gold said, “I think our culture, our religion, encourages reflection – personal reflection, reflection of our people and their struggles. There are built-in meditative moments in our prayers, in our holidays, in our services, to give us space to look inward. To learn and to digest our past and what has been is a large component of my work. As Jewish people, we actively choose in our times of joy to remember our hardships and, in our times of hardship, to find joy – I am mindful of this as I work and in life.”
In her artist’s statement, Gold writes, “I create portraits rich with emotion, conveying moments saturated by our struggles with grief, identity and change.” But what about the quiet joy that those portraits also convey?
“You are absolutely right,” she acknowledged, “there is pause (stillness) and calm in my imagery. It is intentional; as one who lives my days with a busy mind, there are few things that create pause and reflection. I also have found that, in my grief journey, my mind had made space for pause, for reflection and my world felt very desaturated and vacuous. Those moments were translated in my imagery through the various series documenting my pathways through this terribly difficult process of loss.
“I have been largely directed over the last decade by lyrics of a song by the band Frou Frou – ‘There’s Beauty in the Breakdown.’ Here is a little selection from the song: ‘So let go / And jump in / Oh well whatcha waiting for / It’s all right / ’Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown / (So let go) yeah let go / And just get in / Oh it’s so amazing here / It’s all right / ’Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.’
“Sometimes, in the deep struggles and darkest moments, beauty abounds. It may shake us and break us down,” she said, “but, if open to it, there is an incredible opportunity to witness the heights of compassion, love, expectance, transformation, connectedness and joy.”