Updated: Oct 7, 2021
Art Downtown is unlike any other local art exhibition. It is not every day you can walk about a gallery full of different artists, talk to them directly about their work and purchase a piece to take home with you.
But that is the deal, to promote local artists throughout the province to their domestic audience. As opportunities for local artists suffer as a result of ongoing pandemic closures and limited display venues, Art Downtown is a bright spot that seeks to bring people together.
Created through an agreement between the Vancouver Visual Arts Foundation and the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, the summer-long event took over Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver, covering the open outdoor space in easels, canvases and live painting.
Lisa Wolfin, director of VVAF, says the event gives people the chance to strike up conversations with artists.
“You’re not necessarily going to just start talking to them, but when they're outside and working on their art, it makes it easier for people to walk up and start a conversation,” Lisa says.
The initial goal, Lisa says, was to create a place in Vancouver that was similar to Montmartre in Paris, a district made famous by its plentiful artist booths and live painting.
This year, artists were encouraged to bring their studios outside, setting up tables and easels to work on as people walked around.
“You’re making impressions that last a long time in peoples’ minds,” Lisa says.
The larger area of this year’s location, Jack Poole Plaza, also meant more artists could be included. Artists created unique spaces for themselves as well, setting up tents and tables, effectively creating miniature galleries within the space.
Lisa says it made the event feel more like an art market or fair.
VVAF continues to showcase artists on a monthly rotation at their permanent location, Art @Bentall Gallery, located in the Bentall Centre.
By Nathan Durec