Lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion ad­vo­cates for artists

Art$Pay hosts sec­ond an­nual vis­ual arts show and sale this week­end, fea­tur­ing work by more than 40 lo­cal artists

The Woolwich Observer - - THE ARTS - FAISAL ALI

THE POP­U­LAR NO­TION OF the starv­ing artist – some­one who suf­fers for their art, more in­ter­ested in cre­ativ­ity than stuff­ing his or her wal­let – is fairly in­grained. But it’s a view that is chal­lenged by the likes of Art$Pay, a Water­loo Re­gion­based or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes and ad­vo­cates fair pay for the often un­der­rec­og­nized labours of artists in the com­mu­nity.

To that end, Art$Pay will be host­ing its sec­ond an­nual mem­ber show and sale this week­end at the Cat­a­lyst137 build­ing, 137 Glas­gow St. in Kitch­ener. The show will bring the vis­ual works of more than 40 artists, who will be in at­ten­dance to meet with the pub­lic and dis­cuss their works.

“The mis­sion is to pro­vide vis­ual art prac­ti­tion­ers with op­por­tu­ni­ties. So look­ing at very con­tem­po­rary ap­proaches [to] pro­vide them with op­por­tu­ni­ties, to con­nect them with the com­mu­nity,” ex­plains Cathy Far­well, founder of Art$Pay.

Far­well doesn’t just want to show­case the tal­ents and cre­ations of lo­cal artists, she wants those artists to be able to work and thrive in their com­mu­ni­ties. As an or­ga­ni­za­tion, Art$Pay tries to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on the in­herit value of art, as well as help artists find busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties within the re­gion.

“I often point out to peo­ple, when you walk into a res­tau­rant and you’re asked to pay $30 for the plate that they put down in front of you, you don’t look at that and say, ‘Ah! This is only $4.31 worth of in­gre­di­ents.’ But peo­ple do that to art,” she says. “Ev­ery­body knows, when you sit in a res­tau­rant and you’re served, that you’re pay­ing that plate price. [But] it’s also cov­er­ing the server and the cook and the rent and the over­head and so on.”

By con­trast, peo­ple are often hes­i­tant to fork over at times hun­dreds of dol­lars for a paint­ing or sculp­ture, or for that mat­ter a mu­sic con­cert or theatre pro­duc­tion. The mar­ket for arts – and specif­i­cally vis­ual arts – has changed im­mensely in re­cent years, notes Far­well, and that has cre­ated both new chal­lenges and new op­por­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sional artists to work and thrive in our com­mu­ni­ties.

“That’s some of the ed­u­ca­tion that we’re try­ing to help with,” adds Far­well.

“Like you just can’t pay for the can­vas. The artist, in or­der to pro­duce, also has an over­head. They have ed­u­ca­tional ex­penses, they have ma­te­rial costs, they have to frame the work,” she says. “They have to buy ma­te­ri­als to hang it to keep it on your wall, to seal it so it will look good. To trans­port it to a show, often they’ll have to pay ad­mis­sion fees into the show.

“So that price rep­re­sents, yes, the art. But it rep­re­sents all of the other things that took it to get it on the wall for you.”

The Art$Pay show opens

to­mor­row (Fri­day) with a re­cep­tion, fea­tur­ing live mu­sic, catered food and of­fer­ings from the Kitch­ener­based Red Cir­cle Brew­ing Co. Through­out the ex­pe­ri­ence, event-go­ers will have the op­por­tu­nity to meet and talk with the fea­tured artists, who will also have their works on sale.

There’s a ben­e­fit to meet­ing the artists in per­son and talk­ing with them, says Far­well. Just like there’s a value in meet­ing with the lo­cal farm­ers that pro­duce your food, or the lo­cal busi­nesses that of­fer their wares – meet­ing with lo­cal artists gives con­sumers a way to per­son­al­ize their art pur­chases. It’s a chance for the pub­lic to un­der­stand the in­trin­sic value that goes into mak­ing an ex­pen­sive art­work.

The more peo­ple sup­port their lo­cal pro­duc­ers – be it painters, quil­ters or, yes, even farm­ers, wood­work­ers and trades­per­sons – the more ro­bust those lo­cal economies be­come. Ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple on the value of lo­cal art­works is a way to help those in­dus­tries sur­vive and thrive in the Water­loo Re­gion.

While Art$Pay fo­cuses mostly on the vis­ual arts, the ben­e­fits of pro­mot­ing fair pay for artists can haven an im­pact on other medi­ums.

“When you live in a cre­ative en­vi­ron­ment, whether it’s your work­place or city in a macro scale, it ben­e­fits all cre­ative in­dus­tries,” says Far­well.

“One per­son put it this way. Could you imag­ine if one day all the pic­tures on the wall dis­ap­peared? Any­thing that had an artist’s hand. All of a sud­den you can see TVs go and cars go, be­cause there’s an artist’s hand in all of that. But it’s still taken for granted.”

The Art$Pay an­nual mem­ber show runs over two days, start­ing Novem­ber 9 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Keep­ing with the prin­ci­ple that artist’s de­serve due com­pen­sa­tion, event-go­ers are charged an ad­mis­sion fee of $20. On Satur­day, from 1-4 p.m., ad­mis­sion is $5. Tick­ets may be pur­chased on­line through the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site, www.arts­pay.org.


“Float and Glow” by Christina Preece, one of the artists fea­tured in the Art$Pay an­nual show on this week­end in Kitch­ener.


The first an­nual Art$Pay mem­bers’ show at the Walper Ho­tel in down­town Kitch­ener was well-at­tended.

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