It's paint-in time again. The continuing popularity of the Paint-In demonstrates that this is exactly what we locals enjoy. Next Saturday, July 21, from 11 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m., Moss Street will be lined from hilltop to seashore with 159 artists of all sorts, demonstrating their crafts and meeting the people - about 30,000 of them.
Now in its 25th year, the TD Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Moss Street Paint-In is the biggest outdoor art event on the island. The Victoria Police Department and reservists generously provide their time to arrange the street's closure to make this a block party without equal.
You know the drill - bring your sunhat and walking shoes. You'll meet old friends, like painter Jim Gordaneer, sculptor Maarten Schaddelee and the boys of the Woodpile Collective. Wildlife painter M. Morgan Warren, Fimo-wizard Wanda Shum and the artists from the Garth Homer Society will all be back. And, as usual, 25 pert cent of the talent is new, adjudicated from hundreds of entries.
Way back in the dark ages, during its first year, the event was held on a miserable autumn day.
Then 10 artists who had spent the afternoon painting outdoors met inside the gallery to show their work and warm their hands. Since then, it's been a summer event and the weather is fine. Rain threatened last year but organizer MaryEllen Thredkell was carrying her lucky charm, a chunk of wood to knock on, and moments before 11 a.m., the downpour ceased.
Thredkell is full of praise for the homeowners on Moss Street, who pony up electrical outlets, water, parking spaces and sometimes even tea and cookies.
Harumi Ota sets up his potter's wheel, Linda Lindsay sculpts from a model and a group of art teachers brings drawing horses, paper and charcoals to present an ad hoc sketch class for all comers up and down the street.
In the midst of it all, the Moss Street Market logs its biggest day of the year, and Fairfield United Church offers refreshments in its church hall. More than 200 volunteers keep things running smoothly, helping the gallery's 30 staff and board members. Take note: the gallery offers free admission and this year three fabulous exhibitions (Chinese silks, William Kurelek and Emily Carr) will captivate you for hours - you'll certainly want to return at a quieter time.
There's more: To honour the paint-in's 25th anniversary and the City of Victoria's 150th, the paint-in is expanding to Centennial Square behind City Hall. Every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 10 or 11 artists are "taking their studios to the street" to offer a range of free activities.
Sandy Henrich will initiate art-making for all ages from 1 to 4 p.m. and, during the lunch hour, the stage will be alive with music. Office workers can pick up a lunch provided by the Beirut Express, and parents are invited to bring the kids down to try their hand at artwork.
Artist Carey Newman and his wife Elaine Ting, an elementary school teacher, have created a unique event this year, which will be in a tent at Centennial Square. At last year's paint-in, Newman spent a toonie to buy an original drawing from a little girl who had been inspired by all the action on Moss Street. He got to thinking that a lot of kids are discouraged from taking up the life of the artist by elders who tell them, "You'll never make a living doing that." So he has arranged an art exhibit for kids to show - and sell - their work. He wants everyone to know that being an artist, though it may be difficult, is a highly respected profession. The young artists will all be there Friday.
This onslaught of art-related activity points up the pervasive interest this community has in the subject. The paint-in is a perfect commitment-free introduction to art forms and artists. It may inspire you to visit the gallery, to become a member and a donor, and to foster a relationship with the creative people all around you.
Snacks, drinks, an after-party, free admission to the gallery's brilliant exhibitions and more art than you can shake a walking stick at: these are offered to all comers. Get out and have a look.
TD Art Gallery Paint-In, on Moss Street between Fort Street and Dallas Road, Saturday, July 21 from 11 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m., and the Paint In The Square at Centennial Square, July 16 to 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details and maps, go to www.aggv.bc.ca or call 250-384-4171.
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