As with every other organization and sector in town, the arts community has had to pivot hard this past year.
After all, when people are being told to stay apart for public safety, you have to find another way of achieving your goal when your role is to bring people together through the power of the creative spirit.
“I think we’ve managed to do that pretty well, overall,” says Ken Blackburn, executive director of the Campbell River Arts Council. “I think people, in general, understand that art and artists will see them through – and help them through – everything. No matter what, the arts will be there.”
But now it’s time to celebrate those artists themselves.
Each year, the arts council and the folks at the Campbell River Art Gallery team up to put on an exhibition exclusively featuring the work of local artists, called the Members’ Show.
It fills the walls of the gallery, they throw a big shindig celebrating local art and artists with music, food and lively discussion as people come together to recognize and laud their efforts.
Well, except for the last one.
And apparently the next one.
But even a global pandemic can’t keep them from doing what they can to celebrate our local artists, Blackburn says.
“Last year the show was scheduled to open right as the pandemic hit,” he says.
“In fact, the lockdown occurred the Monday after we’d done the intake,” points out Sara Lopez Assu, executive director of the art gallery. “I remember we had all the artwork at the gallery already and then it got quarantined there.”
But they still wanted to salvage what they could and create something that would show off the work that local artists had been doing.
Lopez Assu managed to put something together through the arts council’s website at the time, using images of the work that had been submitted for the show.
“It was okay,” she says. “It made for a visually-appealing experience, and it at least allowed us to showcase our local artists, but it was certainly not what one would consider ‘a show.’”
A year later, however, faced with essentially the same circumstances, things have changed on the back-end, so to speak.
“We’ve now learned a whole lot in terms of leveraging online environments,” Lopez Assu says.
They’ve also been keenly watching what Blackburn calls “emerging technologies” that could help.
“There are now ways where we can create a truly immersive online exhibit that people can navigate through and virtually walk through,” he says. “That’s how it’s looking like we’ll be presenting the 2021’ Members Show.”
Using a virtual 3D model of a room much like the art gallery’s space, “visitors” to the Members’ Show will be able to “walk” around and view the works that have been submitted, read about the works and the artists courtesy of information panels beside each work – much like in a regular gallery setting.
Their hope is to actually offer the show in the physical gallery space, as well, however, as a sort of “hybrid” event, they just won’t be hosting a big party to open the show with a bang.
“As it stands with the current health orders that are in effect, we can also have the work up on our walls,” Lopez Assu says, “but as we’ve learned over the past eight months or so, that can change rapidly. Our plan is to still hang the show and operate regular hours for people to drop in and see it, we just can’t, right now, plan for any in-person events.”
The applications for the 2021 Members’ Show are available now, and registration closes Jan. 2. The intake for the artwork is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 7-9 with the show to open Jan. 14 and running through Feb. 20.
Participants must be members of both the arts council and art gallery – each are a $20 annual membership – in order to take part, and there is a $10 entry fee.
Youth participants between the ages of 12 and 19, however, can enter for free as well as receiving a free annual membership to both organizations.
Watch both organizations’ social media feeds for updates on the show as it gets closer. You can find the arts council on Facebook at @campbellriverartscouncil and the art gallery at @campbellriverartgallery.