Print Edition: June 17, 2015
Would you buy a painting if you had no idea who the artist was?
Late on the sunny afternoon of Saturday, June 13, the Kariton Gallery at Mill Lake was filled with supporters of the local arts community who gathered to celebrate the opening of the second annual Anonymous Art Show Fundraiser. Rows upon rows of small, square paintings were displayed on the walls of the gallery, and behind each one was a secret: a card with the name of the painter and the title of the piece.
Held once a year by the Abbotsford Arts Council (AAC), the Anonymous Art Show features dozens of works by local artists, each painted on 12” square canvases. Each piece is sold for $100, with half the proceeds going to the artist and the other half to support the AAC’s many community initiatives, including art markets, music festivals, children’s workshops, and the Arty Awards. When a painting is purchased and removed from the wall, the artist’s name is revealed.
Anyone can submit their work to the fundraiser, and as a result the artists range from professionals to those who are newly emerging in the local art community.
“I always say it’s perfect for closet artists,” said Aymee Leake, gallery co-ordinator. “Maybe they’ve been painting for years, but they’re shy. It’s a good beginner step for them to get their work out there.
“I have a piece up this year, and I’ve never exhibited before,” she added. “It’s nerve-wracking!”
The pieces were arranged by themes: one wall for female figures, another for flowers, another for landscapes, and so on. Many of the pieces featured distinctly British Columbian scenes of farmland, mountains, coastal sunsets, and local wildlife, but there were also plenty of less orthodox designs: skulls, diamonds, wine bottles, an Illuminati eye, a Rubik’s cube …
So far 97 people have submitted paintings to this year’s Anonymous Art Show, according to DJ Gay, a volunteer with the Abbotsford Arts Council. An avid fan of the show, Gay purchased several paintings last year and several more this year.
“Sometimes if you know the style of an artist you like, you can recognize it, but other times it’s a complete mystery,” said Gay. Although she tends to select works by artists she already knows and loves, this year one of the paintings she bought was by an artist she had never seen before.
“I didn’t know the artist at all,” she said. “I just picked it for the picture. When you look at the right painting, you fall in love with it.”
Leake also likes to buy at least one painting a year at the show. “It’s always an instant connection,” she said. “You just look at it and you know.”
The Anonymous Art Show will continue to accept paintings on 12” by 12” by 1.5” canvases until June 26. The exhibit and sale will continue until July 7.