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Art Downtown is Transforming Vancouver's Public Spaces

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Art Downtown, a collaboration between Vancouver Visual Art Foundation (VVAF) and the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), is bringing a calendar of summer art events to the city.

Art Downtown will be live and on location at Lot 19 on Wednesdays and at Cathedral Square on Fridays, showcasing a wide range of local artists to the downtown public. This includes Art Masters, an artistic competition, to be held on July 22nd at Lot 19 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Taisha Teal, director of operations for VVAF, said the concept was born out of a desire to promote the non-profit organization when so many shows and exhibitions have been cancelled due to COVID-19.

We made an agreement to have more community art and local art,” Teal said. “This is free for everyone and the artists are able to sell their work.

Art Downtown takes place over ten weeks, bringing a number of artists into the downtown core of Vancouver. Artists will paint live on location, displaying and selling finished pieces. Live music and free interactive painting for the public makes this an event for all ages.

They wanted to create a space in Vancouver similar to Montmartre in Paris, which has become synonymous for artists painting and creating in public.

Teal said people who walked by Art Downtown during its first week were surprised, but happy to see such artistic community engagement.

You get to interact with artists. You're not just going into a gallery and looking at a painting and not knowing the backstory behind the painting. You get to see the artists, watch them paint live, and then talk to them”, says Teal.

Exhibiting artist Elizabeth Cross will be involved throughout the summer program. She’s already had success, selling two paintings on the first day as she was setting up her easels.

We really need to showcase our artists and get them out there, and even if I was a person walking by, I would totally want to see stuff like this,” Cross said. “It makes me feel happy.

For her, the combination of live art and music transforms these outdoor spaces into focal points in the city. And as they continue throughout the summer, she expects more people to come.

It was really awesome just being a part of it,” she said.

Viviann Daza, a volunteer with VVAF, agreed that art had the power to transform these spaces and help people slow down and find enjoyment in something unique.

It’s a routine, the place where you’ve gone to work, that you’ve passed so many times,” Daza said. “It’s the same park, but where you never saw this activity before.

Art Downtown continues throughout the summer. It takes place from 11 p.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesdays at Lot 19 and Fridays at Cathedral Square.

By Nathan Durec


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