SURREY — “Go and make interesting mistakes. Make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.”
So says Neil Gaiman, an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. He is best known for the comic book series The Sandman: Book of Dreams and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline and The Graveyard Book. He seems to have a handle on “Make. Good. Art.”
Sounds like simple, and good, advice. But for many visual artists, lack of creative spaces is an obstacle to creating art. I know this won’t solve the entire problem, but here is a start on finding spaces.
BC Alliance for Arts + Culture (allianceforarts.com) is administering a new tool in the battle against soaring space costs across the province. It’s called SpaceFinder BC, a new creative space directory, described as an “online matchmaking tool for creative space and creative people” was designed by NYC non-profit Fractured Atlas to remove barriers to creative production.
SpaceFinder’s purpose is to help creative people solve issues of access in competitive urban markets, and while on tour. The most recent Canadian National Labor Force Study found more than 136,600 artists in Canada who spent more time at their art than at any other occupation, with British Columbia holding the largest percentage of its labour force in arts and cultural occupations. The increases in creative workers over the past two decades have outstripped the growth of the general labour force overall. B.C. continues to hold the highest cost of living in the country.
— SpaceFinder BC (@spacefinderbc) June 2, 2017
The gap between creativity and affordable creative space is what SpaceFinder BC aims to bridge. Users of the site choose their desired rate, location and permitted use and find matching available spaces via the spacefinderbc.org main page. Searches can be further refined by discipline-specific amenities. Registration is free, approval is immediate and the exposure to space-hungry creatives is priceless. To learn more about SpaceFinder BC or to inquire about upcoming events, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Space for visual artists that has been working quite well for 50 years now is Surrey Art Gallery, located inside Surrey Arts Centre. Opening reception for ARTS 2017 is Friday, June 23, starting at 7 p.m. This juried art show presents new works by local artists, and the theme this year is “All Things Canadian.” Of course. The Arts Council of Surrey is the driving force behind these juried exhibitions, and this 33rd annual showcase of local artists runs until Aug. 26. This eclectic collection of more than 40 works reflects the artists’ ideas, realities and myths associated with Canada. The exhibition and related events are free to attend.
From sculptural pieces in fabric, wood and beads, to paintings, drawings, photographs and mixed-media works, there is a little bit of everything for visitors to enjoy. Visitors are invited to vote for the People’s Choice Award that will be announced at the end of the exhibition. Oh yes, actual awards are handed out by the jurors, but the People’s Choice Award is my favourite. Go see Canada through the eyes of artists. Vote. You get a vote! That is also soooo Canadian.
Semiahmoo Arts’ current exhibition in its Turnbull Gallery (at South Surrey Recreation Centre, online at semiahmooarts.com/the-turnbull-gallery) is Local Abstractions: A Non-representational Community Art Show. This non-juried show is intriguing. It is described as “exploring materiality of the painted surface as well as experience artwork that does not represent things as they are, but rather how they feel.” This is taking Neil Gaimen’s advice to heart, I think. Go. Feel. Explore. Make. Good. Art. And find the space to express it.