Blyth Festival Art Gallery to showcase local artists this summer
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
This summer, the Blyth Festival Art Gallery is going virtual in an effort to showcase local artists and help them sell their work as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag on.
The gallery is now calling for submissions for its Blyth Festival Art Gallery Virtual Community Artists’ Showcase, which will run from June 5 until Sept. 30.
The showcase will be non-juried and the Gallery will not be seeking any fees or commissions on work sold. Gallery President Carl Stevenson says the goal is to simply connect local artists to local art lovers; any sales will be conducted by buyers directly with the artists.
The Gallery will then feature one or two artists each week through its social media channels, supported by the Blyth Festival and its social media channels as well. Posts will include up to six items of artwork by each artist and include prices, the artist’s biography and contact information.
The deadline for submissions is May 30. For those wanting to be part of the showcase, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details: up to six high-quality images of works of art to be featured (including the title, type of media, size and price of each piece), the artist’s name and contact information, website and social media platforms and the artist’s biography (a maximum of 150 words).
In an interview with The Citizen, Stevenson said members of the Gallery committee knew they wanted to do something to support local artists this year, after having to cancel every one of its shows scheduled in 2020, from the annual Student Show to the entire professional season. He received direction from those at the Blyth Festival that essentially nothing will go forward in the Memorial Hall building this year, so if the Gallery wanted to host an event, it needed to be either outdoors or virtual.
Stevenson also said that it’s been no secret that the pandemic has been hard on artists, who have not had anywhere to exhibit and sell their work with the closure of galleries and markets for over a year now. He said the committee looked at what it could offer and, through its social media presence, felt it could provide a boost and an opportunity to artists in the area that have not been able to connect with potential customers for a very long time.
With the Festival considering the production of outdoor plays at the natural amphitheatre at the Blyth Campground, Stevenson said there had been some discussion about hosting outdoor art exhibits to coincide with those shows. The expertise necessary, however, and the risk involved proved to be too concerning on such a short timeline for the committee and was shelved as perhaps something to be considered in the future.
Stevenson also said Gallery representatives would be reaching out to the local high schools and encouraging students to submit their work to be included. The Student Show, which is Stevenson’s favourite Gallery event of the season, won’t be moving forward this year either, but if students can be included in the showcase, it might serve to give students an opportunity to show off their work that they might not have had otherwise.
As for the Blyth Festival Art Gallery’s regular season, it will be fully shifted to 2022 with all three artists agreeing to move their work to next year in hopes of hosting a proper exhibition at Memorial Hall.
The season, which was originally supposed to take place last year, includes exhibitions by Blyth-based artist Kelly Stevenson, Lucknow-based photographer Hannah Dickie and a survey exhibition of pottery by eight Ontario artists.
All artists have agreed to move their exhibitions, which Stevenson says is not ideal, but that it will give them more time to refine their art before it is shown in the gallery.
For more information, visit the Gallery’s page on the Blyth Festival website at blythfestival.com.