There’s no surer way of raising the profile of the arts in a community than placing practitioners squarely in the public eye.
That’s the principle behind Paint The Town, Semiahmoo Arts’ new event celebrating Canada Culture Days, which will hit the streets of White Rock, Sept. 28-29.
On the Saturday, passersby will be able to observe local visual artists painting ‘plein air’ in various locations in the uptown area of the city, enjoying and reflecting the sights and sounds around them.
On the Sunday, the works produced will be exhibited for sale at the Semiahmoo Arts Building next to Centennial Arena (14600 North Bluff Rd.)
And the timing couldn’t be better, according to the organization’s new executive director, Mary Brunet.
“It fits right in the middle of the White Rock Festival of the Arts,” she said.
Boosting the visibility, it’s also been intentionally co-ordinated with another high-traffic event in the uptown area, the White Rock BIA’s Rock The Town Festival, which will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 28 at various locations, including music on two stages, the South Surrey Rotary Chili Cook-Off, the third annual Uptown Companion Dog Shoe and a Kid Zone featuring Korki the Clown and face painters.
“We’re hoping Paint The Town becomes an annual event,” said Semiahmoo Arts president Barbara Cooper.
“It’s based on the Grand Prix of Art in Qualicum Beach, which is promoted as a spectator sport. The race part comes in because each artists gets three hours and not a second more. When you hear the bell, you put down your brush and bring in your piece, finished or not.”
Painting will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 28, with judging at 2:30 p.m. and prize announcements and the beginning of the exhibition from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Semiahmoo Arts Building.
The exhibition will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the same venue the following day, with music and children’s activities also on site.
Art work produced will be judged in a range of categories, and some pieces may also be selected to appear in the White Rock 2015 calendar.
Individual registration fee is $20, but families can register for $25, regardless of the size of the family or age of the children. This rate applies to immediate members of the family – parents and their children. Families will paint in the same location, with each person creating an individual painting.
School groups who register will pay $5 per person, for both students and teachers. As with families, group members will be assigned the same location, and each person will individually create a work.
Special locations will be chosen that can accommodate families and school groups.
Among local artists giving a preview of plein-air painting near White Rock Elementary recently to promote the event were Carolynn Doan, Judy Jordison and Toni Williams.
They said they were looking forward to demonstrating what they do in a more-public-than-usual setting.
“It’ll be so much fun, like when you go to paint in France,” said Doan. “It’s marvellous to paint outside – you feel like you’re part of the Impressionist movement. You begin to understand the challenges they had; and they didn’t have the fluid paints we have now, just heavy oils they had to move around and try to catch the light.”
Jordison said she is a frequent participant in similar events, including the Qualicum Beach Grand Prix of Art.
“They have artists everywhere in the city, and all the people in town will go place to place to see what they’re doing,” she said, adding that she hopes it’s an idea that gathers momentum in White Rock.
“It takes a while to get something like this going.”
Interaction with passersby will be all part of the fun for the artists, Williams said.
“I imagine it’ll be half painting and half talking to the people,” she said.
Jordison said it’s also a good, non-intimidating way to promote sales.
“People are interested in a painting they see happening in front of their eyes,” she said. “Most people don’t go to galleries and talk to artists there. This is a chance for them to get something little they don’t have to go to an opening for.”
Plein-air painting – even without the competitive angle – ought become a more familiar sight in White Rock, the artists agreed.
“I think it would be really nice if we did this on a more regular basis, and made it a destination to rendezvous every month,” said Doan. “It’s so much fun getting together – and it does get people thinking about art.”
Those interested in participating should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-536-8333 for registration forms.