The Art of Giv­ing and Re­ceiv­ing

Ottawa Business Journal - Ottawa at Home - - GIVING BACK BARBARA GAMBLE - Pho­tog­ra­phy by STEVE GERECKE Catherine Clark is the host of Be­yond Pol­i­tics on CPAC, airing Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

Most peo­ple as­sume that artists are born, not cre­ated, but Ot­tawa artist Bar­bara Gam­ble doesn’t like to be painted with that brush. “Not all artists know that they are meant to be artists,” she af­firms. “Some of us just come to dis­cover it.”

Bar­bara, who won the Y Women of Dis­tinc­tion Award for Art, Cul­ture and Her­itage in 2009, was first ex­posed to art when her fa­ther served in Europe as a mem­ber of the Canadian Forces. In ad­di­tion to the reg­u­lar list of must-see mu­se­ums that pep­per that con­ti­nent, the family vis­ited smaller, less well- known gal­leries, all of which opened Bar­bara’s eyes to artis­tic pos­si­bil­i­ties.

“I was totally amazed at the com­mu­nica­tive power of art,” she re­mem­bers. “Art in­volves knowl­edge of his­tory, cul­ture and so­ci­ety, but it also ex­plores beauty, fear, anx­i­ety, con­cern – all imag­i­na­tive feel­ings that ev­ery per­son shares.”

While her Euro­pean ex­pe­ri­ence left an in­deli­ble im­print, it wasn’t un­til her late teens that Bar­bara dis­cov­ered the artist within; en­rolling in what was then the vis­ual arts depart­ment at Al­go­nquin Col­lege. “I loved mak­ing things, loved the ma­te­ri­al­ity of it,” she re­calls.

From the very be­gin­ning, Bar­bara chose to fo­cus on the theme of land­scape in her art. “I was ex­posed to a lot of dif­fer­ent land­scapes as a childand I feel that the con­nec­tion to na­ture and our re­la­tion­ships to land are important to ev­ery­one, par­tic­u­larly Cana­di­ans,” she says.

And while artis­tic en­deav­ours colour her life, Bar­bara’s ca­reer has ex­tended far be­yond can­vas and paint. She has bal­anced rais­ing a family with work­ing as a cer­ti­fied teacher, along with many years spent op­er­at­ing the much-loved Ot­tawa Christ­mas Craft Show which she started with her hus­band in 1975.

For all these rea­sons, Bar­bara has a keen un­der­stand­ing of the kind of sup­port that artists re­quire to be suc­cess­ful, and has ded­i­cated sig­nif­i­cant time to var­i­ous lo­cal and na­tional ini­tia­tives that pro­mote and sus­tain cre­ative out­put. These ini­tia­tives in­clude the Ot­tawa Art Gallery and Canadian Artists’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tion/le Front des artistes cana­di­ens, which ad­dresses the le­gal and eco­nomic is­sues fac­ing vis­ual artists.

“In my own art ca­reer, gen­er­ous clients and friends have sup­ported and en­cour­aged me, and I want to re­cip­ro­cate by help­ing to foster and sup­port the ca­reers of other artists in my com­mu­nity and across the coun­try,” ex­plains Bar­bara.

“Find­ing out that you can make a pos­i­tive and last­ing dif­fer­ence in your com­mu­nity has been one of the big ben­e­fits of giv­ing back,” she con­cludes. “And I’ve al­ways got back more than I’ve given.”

I was totally amazed at the com­mu­nica­tive power of art.

Catherine Clark,

Com­mu­nity Voice

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