Judging by the success of the Anonymous Art Show at the Ashcroft HUB, quite a few local residents not only had a chance to create art, they came away from the show with something new and colourful to hang on their wall.
Art show organizer Jessica Clement says that of the 82 works submitted, 64 sold, raising $775 for the HUB. That represents half the money raised from the sale of the pieces; each artist gets the remaining half of what their work(s) sold for.
True to the spirit of the event, however, Clement says she expects the HUB to raise even more from the show.
“I’ve had a few artists say they will donate their portion of the money back, or who’ve said ‘Don’t worry about giving me my money.’”
The idea for the show originated in Vanderhoof, which just held its second Anonymous Art Show. Clement heard about it from the organizer, and decided that it was something that would work in Ashcroft, with its plethora of artists and support for the arts.
While most of the works were by first-timers or enthusiastic amateurs, Clement says that a few established artists took part (anonymously, of course), including Royden Josephson, Martha Labadie, Marina Papais, and Sharon Rennie. The vast majority of the submitted pieces were paintings, but there were also sketches, mixed-media, a glass mosaic piece, and several photographs of the region by Mona D’Amours, a newcomer to the area who decided to take part.
Clement says that most of the artists were from Ashcroft, although there were some out-of-towners as well. The pieces were all displayed at the HUB for a few days for public viewing; then the show went online, with people able to submit bids by phone or on Facebook through Sept. 30.
“We found after the first week-and-a-half of having the artwork on the website, and people just phoning in bids, that there wasn’t much traction,” says Clement. “Vanderhoof did theirs all on Facebook, and we weren’t going to at first because we thought it could be a mess, but we decided we needed to do what we had to to get traction.”
Reaction from people who saw the show at the HUB was very positive. “We had a comment from one person who was so grateful because all the other art shows he would go to were cancelled this year, so coming to see art physically was really, really nice.”
Those who took part by creating works also appreciated the show. “People said they really enjoyed participating, and we had quite a few people say that it was a good outlet for them at a time when there’s a lot of negativity going on. We had a lot of first-timers because it was anonymous. People felt more free to put something out because no one would know which work was theirs.”
Prepared 8” x 8” canvases were available for $5 each, and local artist Jo Petty ran two workshops where she guided participants through painting sunflowers. The workshops used 8” x 8” canvases, and Clement says that was tied in to the show (it also explains the plethora of sunflower paintings on display).
“Jo usually uses larger, rectangular canvases, but said ‘Let’s do 8” x 8” so if people want to use their painting for the art show they can.’ Vanderhoof did 6” x 6” [canvases], but we thought that was too small, and that 8” x 8” was a good size but not overwhelming.
“I heard a couple of comments about how the square shape was awkward because people are used to rectangular formats, but they adjusted.”
Clement says the HUB is already thinking about doing another Anonymous Art Show in the spring of 2021.
“I think everyone did enjoy it, and there probably won’t be a lot happening again, so this would be good. We might do more art workshops in the winter, and that would force people to do it. A lot of people took canvases home and didn’t get around to [doing a painting], so this would be a date for people. It’s something you can still do with physical distancing.”
She adds that the HUB was really impressed by the number of people who wanted to participate.
“We’re thankful to them, and to the people who bid. There were some friendly bidding wars, and it was great to see people supporting the HUB. I’m appreciative of it, and I hope the town is as well.”