You can’t keep a good art show down.
That’s what members of the Ashcroft Art Club are determined to prove, as they launch their 53rd annual fine art show and sale — in both live and virtual formats — on May 1.
The club’s art show traditionally takes place at the end of April, and early in 2020 they made the decision to postpone the 52nd show because of the COVID-19 pandemic that was starting to unfold.
“We thought we could have it later in the year, thinking that COVID-19 would be over,” says club president Heidi Roy. When it became apparent that the show could not go on — at least in its usual format, with people dropping by St. Alban’s hall over four days to view the artwork in person — the club members to decided to hold a virtual art show in June. It was followed by a second virtual show just before Christmas last year.
“Both shows went over well,” says Roy. “We had a good response from people and sold a few pieces, although not as many as at a normal show. That’s understandable, since people like to see the pictures for real.”
Realizing how important it was for people to be able to see the artwork in real life, the club members asked themselves how they could have a COVID-friendly “real” show this year. Their answer was the Sidewalk Gallery in Ashcroft, in the windows of the Rolgear building on Railway Avenue, which owner Angela Bandelli dedicates to rotating displays of artwork by local artists.
“We thought we could hang the paintings there so people can view them in person, and also do the show virtually for people outside the region who aren’t able to travel.”
Nine club members have contributed around three dozen paintings, which will be on display at the Sidewalk Gallery from May 1 to 31. The works will also be available to view online at the art club’s website (www.AshcroftArtClub.com). Anyone who wants to purchase one of the works can either send an email to the club via the website, or submit a form via the virtual show.
Roy says they won’t know until they start hanging the pieces whether or not they will all fit in the Sidewalk Gallery’s display space, so there might be one or two pieces that appear online only. However, she thinks people will appreciate being able to see the paintings in person, whenever they want to.
“We wanted to limit contact because of COVID-19, and this way the paintings are available to be seen 24 hours a day from outside the building, not inside, so there’s a low risk of interacting with other people.
“We had thought of having them inside businesses downtown, but with the latest shutdown of restaurants that wouldn’t have worked, and with limits on customers we didn’t want to have people who were just there to look at paintings. This way no one is inconvenienced, and people can look anytime they feel like it, not just during business hours.”
Because of the pandemic, the club members have not been able to meet for over a year, and Roy says because of that, she doesn’t know what people have been doing.
“My mother [artist Judy Roy] started working with pastels rather than her traditional oil painting just before the pandemic, because she got a set of pastels for Christmas 2019. I’ve been painting about the same as usual. I did a lot of painting last spring, waiting for the show that didn’t happen, and then I had more free time on my hands because I wasn’t working from April through June.
“Surprisingly, even though people have extra free time, a lot haven’t been painting. Some people have said they did less than usual. Maybe it was the stress of the situation, and they weren’t in the mood, or they had other things to do.”
Roy says she’s glad to see the art show back in a way that allows people to view the works in real life. “We’re happy to have this compromise so the show can continue.
“I hope that seeing some in-person artwork will cheer people up if they’re tired of the whole COVID thing. Lots of people are out walking now, so if people do a daily loop of downtown this will give them a change of scenery to look at.”