If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it is that creativity is a massive advantage in uncertain times.
It should be no surprise then that talented local artists have harnessed their creativity and run — er paint — with it.
Those behind the FOYER Gallery in the Squamish Public Library are taking a new approach to asking the community for support.
In the pre-pandemic ‘before-time,’ the gallery would have hosted its annual fall FOYER Gallery art exhibit leading up to a splashy gala event.
In today’s uncertain reality where in-person events can be kiboshed suddenly, the gallery is instead going digital for 2021, with a month-long October campaign to encourage support of the gallery program with an online “pay what you can” donation.
Those who donate before Oct. 28 are entered into a random draw for one of 50-plus pieces of artwork created by gallery artists.
“We are going to do a live feed to give away the art as part of the art draw. This way, it is going to be more random, and that is always exciting because you don’t know what you are going to get,” FOYER Gallery curator and local artist Toby Jaxon told The Chief.
Donations go toward the non-profit gallery’s operations, maintenance and promotion.
“It is a really good chance to be part of the arts and culture scene in Squamish and participate in our fundraiser — and get that warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you donate to a community space,” Jaxon said.
All artwork that is part of the draw can be seen at the current FOYER Gallery Fundraising Exhibition during regular library hours.
“A good percentage of the art that has been donated by FOYER Gallery artists is two-dimensional, such as paintings or photography; we have got prints, we have watercolours — you name it as far as wall art. But we also have sculptures, we have ceramics, we have some jewelry, so there is a huge variety; there’s even some weavings,” she said. “There’s a big assortment of possibilities up for grabs.”
While they don’t officially track the visitors to the free gallery, Jaxon said anecdotally it seems visitation has been steady during the pandemic.
“I do get feedback from the [library] staff and they continually give me positive comments about the number of people who walk in and kind of go ‘Wow, I have to check this out.’”
How has COVID impacted artists?
Artists are used to working in isolation, so the pandemic hasn’t hampered the productivity of most, Jaxon said, but it does impact their art.
“Artists tend to want to express and create with having some sort of meaning to it... beyond enjoying just the aesthetic beauty of art. It is a way of communicating,” she said. “The pandemic has created a real specific focus for artists to be able to communicate through making social statements and their expression. So, COVID has had a huge impact on the sensitivity of the expression.”
The gallery overall always aims to have an impact, she added.
“During this last year and a half, I can see that there have been huge internal impacts with artists and how they want to present their art be able to share that with others in positive ways. Anytime that we put a show up in the gallery, we are hoping to provoke emotions from people and make them feel something, hopefully, happier, calmer or more inspired.”
Personally, Jaxon said when COVID first hit, it put her into a dark place for a time.
“I was not inspired at all to do anything creatively, that way. I think there being so many unknowns and not really knowing what was in store in the future,” she said.
She dug herself out of her creative funk with, of course, her art.
In the spring, she participated in a 30-day daily art challenge.
“That was such an incredible task for me to take on because it forced me to really open up and see the light and be able to really feel that moving forward helps you really heal.”
She was inspired to create a series of clouds, which had also had a symbolic meaning.
“The metaphors with clouds and feeling sky-high and travelling above and floating around — all those metaphors tied in. It was good for me mentally, for my recovery of feeling depressed from the whole pandemic.”
To donate and enter the Draw for Art fundraiser, go to the FOYER Gallery webpage (https://squamishlibrary.ca/foyer-gallery/) and click the “Donate Now” button. (The suggested minimum donation is $25.)
Cash donations can be made in person at the Squamish Public Library.
Winners of each art piece will be notified directly at the end of October.