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At 25, 'art love-in' draws big crowd

Jul 22 2012
Jo Sargeant, left, and Sarah Bonsur Kurki add to painter/sculptor Jeremy Gordaneer's chalk art at the TD Art Gallery Paint-In on Moss Street on Saturday. Thousands of visitors and 150 artists took part in the art demonstration, now in its 25th year. 

Jo Sargeant, left, and Sarah Bonsur Kurki add to painter/sculptor Jeremy Gordaneer's chalk art at the TD Art Gallery Paint-In on Moss Street on Saturday. Thousands of visitors and 150 artists took part in the art demonstration, now in its 25th year.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com (July 2012)

Taking a crash course in art was never so easy.

On Saturday, artists and their admirers descended onto Moss Street for Victoria's annual Paint-In. Artists lined the sidewalks between Dallas Road and Fort Street, giving demonstrations or talking with passersby.

"It's an art love-in," said organizer Mary-ellen Threadkell. "This little place of Victoria is such a gem."

Threadkell was at the first Moss Street Paint-In, as it was known then, 25 years ago and has been an organizer for 12 years. At this year's TD Art Gallery Paint-In, there were 161 artists, the largest number in its history.

"People get to interview prospective art teachers," Threadkell said with a laugh, adding that the Paint-In gives artists the chance to explain their process.

Participating artists must apply in April, she said, adding that people are selected by a jury. It's unlikely the festival will expand much more, she said.

While artists use the opportunity to sell pieces, Threadkell said there's much more to the event.

"It's the energy, the sharing," she said.

Painting, sculpture, body art, glass and jewelry were just some of the items on display - there are no limits to what artists can showcase at the Paint-In.

A 1 p.m., Kristin Grant was mid-way through her project, airbrushing a man with purple and gold paint. Eric Mazimpaka had already had fur applied to his face, chest and feet with liquid latex, and pointed ears peaked out from shaggy hair that draped down to his shoulders. Mazimpaka was becoming a wolf.

"He embodies the character all day long," Grant said. She has been bodypainting for three years but Saturday was her first Paint-In experience.

Mazimpaka's transformation was part of Grant's project, entitled Stand Together: For the Love of B.C., which is meant to highlight the natural beauty of B.C. and protest the environmental risks associated with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Farther along Moss Street, the Woodpile Collective had a display that included a tent, canoe and two large canvasses.

The objects incorporated graffiti-style art, or, as artist Shawn O'Keefe described it, "West Coast contemporary art."

"We mix street art, abstract and focus on the Vancouver Island environment," he said.

The collective, made up of O'Keefe, Sean McLaughlin and Blythe Hailey, repurposed items for the display. O'Keefe said the canoe had its inner skin layered with canvas and could turn into anything, including an upright sculpture.

A large canvas tent covered in graffiti also drew crowds.

"It's built out of five or six paintings sewn together," O'Keefe said. The piece keeps with the group's theme of combining West Coast spirit with recycled items.

"All three of us collaborate on everything," he said.

"It's a bit of a process. You have to get over yourself, you have to get over your ego - it's about following the strokes that came before you."

cclancy@timescolonist.com

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