Taking Art to the Streets

Growing up, art was my favourite subject. I engaged in creative play all those hours of entertaining ourselves without babysitters. I would never have imagined showing any of my work in an art show.

The opportunity came a few years ago, when my spiritual community at Grace Vancouver Church hosted an annual art show. The aim? To build community and connection, and to bless the city in so doing. Residing only a few steps from Gallery Row in Vancouver, it made sense that loving our neighbour included serving the artists in our city by creating an open space and invitation to display their art to share with others.

The first year we held our Arts in the City, Arts in the Sanctuary show, we relied heavily on filling the walls with art from the many artistic folks in our immediate church community and one degree of connections with artists beyond our walls. This was my favourite, to see a range of skills and art. With each passing show, word spread and submissions increased, both in quantity and in caliber.

I remember feeling disappointed when one year, my art finally didn’t make the cut. I remember the collection that year was the most “professional” overall, with few amateurs. It felt like the original heart of the event had shifted a bit. Looking back, my submission was admittedly very amateur, almost juvenile in its style. I understand the curation team’s choices. Mine simply would not have fit with the overall show.

That piece of rejected work has been sitting in the bottom of my closet, for 6 years now. Until now.

125contributing2012Enter Papergirl Vancouver. Part of a larger worldwide movement, Papergirl calls artists to donate their work from around the world to be shown in a particular Papergirl community. Artists can create original works for the show, or they can just dig under the bed and shed the light of day on their old sketches. They encourage any and all levels of art for submission. They take everything!

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The coolest part? After the show, they roll up the artwork and take it to the streets by bike, randomly handing out the art to strangers as a gift – beautiful acts of “giftervention.”

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I love that they are creating connections between artists within the show itself, but also with the greater community of the host city, and the Papergirl movement worldwide. This year 136 artists submitted 738 pieces of artwork to Papergirl Vancouver from as far as Japan, South Africa and England. What a privilege to be part of such a community. I can’t wait to submit more to other cities coming up.

web-calligraphy-sharing-homeArtwork for Papergirl Vancouver will be on display for the week (until July 27) at Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown during regular centre hours. Opening night is tonight, July 24, 7-9pm. Check it out!

Read more about Papergirl’s vision here (and watch fun videos of recipients of art at Papergirl gifterventions around the world)

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