Art Downtown is transforming the business hub of Vancouver into a vibrant and inclusive space where artists and art lovers can create a sense of community. On Wednesday, that community grew even more as the public was asked to participate and judge a live art competition.
Art Masters brings eight artists together for a one-hour live art competition. Within the theme of The Beauty of Vancouver, each painted their impression, using implements from a mystery box.
Set at Lot 19 in the heart of Vancouver’s financial district, people got to enjoy the rare opportunity of seeing professional artists creating a wide range of creative and innovative art.
Art Downtown is an eight-week event that brings artists into the downtown core of the city on Wednesdays and Fridays. In addition to specific program events like Art Masters, artists paint on site and have finished works available for sale. Live music and even free painting for the public promotes inclusivity and interactivity.
For Michael Oyaro, the excitement of Art Masters makes him want to compete.
“This is very different, which is quite interesting because we don’t know the theme, we don’t know what materials we’re going to use,” he says. “So right now, I’m just nervous, trying to build up ideas in my head, trying to form a picture.”
Since arriving from Kenya in early 2018, Oyaro has found a home in the city.
“It [Vancouver] is welcoming to new and emerging artists. So, if you’re an artist that’s discovering themselves, and you come to Vancouver or Canada in general, you know, Canada is very welcoming, and environment-friendly, and it makes you nurture your talents.”
He says the time restriction of Art Masters suits his way of working as he is able to tone out any distractions.
“Once I’ve started out painting on the canvas and I see something, that’s when I go in the zone, and I cancel out everything around me and just focus on it until it’s done,” says Oyaro.
Elizabeth Cross, who is participating in her second Art Masters, concurs with Oyaro.
“It’s like meditation for me,” she says of painting.
She knows what to expect this time around and hopes that will help her manage her time.
“The first time I did it, I was right into it, but now I’m going to take more time to think about what I’m actually going to paint, what kind of colours go together more, and not try to hurry the process, just enjoy the process.”
Pegah Ahani-Masooleh, who is hosting the event, says the uniqueness of Art Masters is unmatched in the city.
“Art Masters is a competition, but more than that, it’s not really about competing against each other for a prize,” she says. “That’s just the cherry on the cake. What it allows is for artists to look at other artists and become inspired from them and create a community of artists, and also gives them the exposure they need in the city.”
Ahani-Masooleh sees art as provoking a conversation and the live nature of the event lets the viewing public engage with artists and ask questions.
“To see an artist in their creative process, it’s so inspiring and it encourages people to express themselves artistically and for them to maybe find an interest in something they otherwise wouldn’t have found if they weren't here.”
Soda Leavey won the competition by receiving the most votes based on public participation.
Art Downtown is possible through an agreement with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. It continues throughout the summer, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Wednesdays at Lot 19 and Fridays at Cathedral Square.
By Nathan Durec