Tourism White Rock’s Betina Albornoz chats with artist Michael Stockdale at the launch of the 2012 art calendar last month.

Calendar celebrates life in ‘city by the sea’

Tourism White Rock releases third annual art calendar

It’s more than a calendar – it’s a defining statement.

Tourism White Rock’s new 2012 art calendar – White Rock, City By The Sea! – is a summing up of the many things residents know the city to be.

But it’s also one that offers hints of what the town could become.

Incorporating the blue borders and design notes of the city’s new official branding, the latest edition is a classy classic – a feel-good celebration for residents to hang up and refer to, and everything they’d like to project about the city as a gift to relatives and friends.

“The idea is to invite people in, and this is the invitation card,” said Tourism White Rock executive director Betina Albornoz.

As in the past two years, it’s a tapestry she’s envisioned and encouraged into existence – with the advice of an informal panel of art appreciators, including a special assist from White Rock Gallery.

But the seemingly tireless Albornoz is quick to give credit to the principal creators of the work reproduced in rich and vivid colour.

“It’s not me who made this – it’s the artists,” she said, as painters involved gathered for the formal launch last month at TD Canada Trust at Central Plaza.

The calendar brings together works by Michael Stockdale, Mike Svob, Carolynn Doan, Catherine Robertson, Robert Genn, Claudette Castonguay, Elizabeth Hollick, Min Ma, Niels Petersen, Santo De Vita, Gary McDonald and Serge Dube, capturing everything from the clear days and more sombre moods of the city in winter, to the joyous bright hues.

Accompanying text links each of the paintings to a theme, such as heritage, cultural diversity, entertainment and festivals, family life and wellness.

In keeping with the ‘city by the sea’ branding, the waters of Semiahmoo Bay feature in almost every painting. Indeed, it’s almost impossible for the calendar not to be centred on the waterfront, said Albornoz, given that beach and promenade scenes seem to provide consistent inspiration to almost all of the artists involved.

“What distinguishes this community is that we’re an oceanside city,” she said.

But Albornoz is hopeful subsequent editions will incorporate other elements of the White Rock scene, including uptown landmarks. It’s clear the project has potential far beyond the current edition, including the possibility of similar arts-inspired gifts and souvenirs to promote the community, Albornoz said.

“I think it’s a very special project to work with, because it involves so many stakeholders,” Albornoz said, noting the project is a self-funded product that relies on previous years’ sales.

“It has a limited shelf-life,” she admitted. “But there is no other brochure that people will hang on their walls for 365 days.

“My favourite part is working with the artists and weaving the story together, but trying to calibrate the paintings for colour and contrast is a very labour-intensive job.”

“It’s a nice cross-section of artists and a good representation of the artists we have in the community,” Doan said at the launch, adding she was surprised her impressionistic view of a freight train passing in front of White Rock’s old station building is her third painting to be selected since the calendar’s first edition in 2009.

Stockdale – whose colourful waterfront views were chosen for both the cover and the June painting – said he appreciated the chance the project gave him to interact with residents.

“I’m always glad to meet people, otherwise the existence of an artist becomes a bit like that of a recluse,” he said. “It’s a very nice calendar, with lots of good artists featured, and very educative about the nature of White Rock.”

McDonald, whose muted beach scene creates an appropriately wintry mood for November, said he feels that projects like the calendar are crucial in enshrining the arts as a key component of the White Rock identity.

“Anything that keeps the arts in view and in front of the public is a good thing,” he said.

 

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