By ALAN SHACKLETON
Local artist Gail Williams will be taking part in the upcoming Art Walk in the Square online event.
A longtime Beach resident, Williams will be among a group of approximately 100 artists who will have their works featured in the show which takes place from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9.
Normally Art Walk in the Square takes place at the Shops at Don Mills, but like numerous other public events this year it has had to go online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Art Walk in the Square is presented by Riverdale Art Walk and the Leslie Grove Gallery on Queen Street East.
Williams told Beach Metro News that the pandemic is having an enormously negative impact on artists and their ability to both showcase and create their work.
“When the lockdown was announced, I was among many artists who were devastated by the cancellation of art events,” said in an email interview.
“Deplorably, artists’ income is 44 per cent less than the average yearly Canadian earning, so not having the spring season to show and sell art was a huge financial blow. Also, I share studio space, as do many other artists, and at the beginning of the crisis I was not able to use my regular workplace. Shifting to an at-home studio set-up was a physical and mental challenge that impacted my creativity.”
Like many other people who have had to shift the way they do things today as opposed to before the pandemic, Williams said she is adapting to the current reality of virtual and online art shows and creation.
“Instagram and Facebook have provided a wonderful opportunity to be artistically active, not only in selling my art but in creating online courses,” she said.
“Through social media, I’m connecting with more people who are spending more time at home and noticing they could fill a wall with art. I’m using more video and creating more ‘process’ content through social media.”
Williams said she’s also using social media and other websites to share how her art is created with those who are interested in learning more about how her abstract art is made.
“People love to see behind the scenes and how my abstract art is made because I create unconventional paintings in unconventional ways. Most significantly, my acrylic and collage painting has shifted dramatically to a commentary on the pandemic, social injustices, and an enhanced global consciousness. The characters and scenes appearing in my recent works reflects the unease of our current social and political climate.”
Along with dealing with the pandemic, many artists are also taking active roles in calling for increased social justice and standing up against racism.
“In addition to supporting charities focused on anti-Black racism and social justice, local artists are spearheading neighbourhood projects to raise awareness of the issues, such as the mural at the Michael Garron Hospital,” said Williams.
“In terms of representation, which is a vital issue throughout the arts, I’ve noticed Black artists being featured much more as we respond to the injustice of anti-Black racism.”
Art Walk in the Square is a juried online event and will feature more than 2,000 original art works on display. The art can be viewed and purchased online through the event site at https://www.artwalksquare.ca/
Proceeds from sales go directly to the artists.
Williams said she is happy that Art Walk in the Square has adapted and is taking place online.
“I’m excited that the show will go on and that support for local artists can continue to grow in new and creative ways,” she said.
Williams will have 25 works on display at Art Walk in the Square, including A Gathering of Friends.
There will be some limited opportunities, following COVID-19 safety protocols, for some of the art works to be viewed in person at some of the artists’ studios.
For more on the in-person viewing opportunities, please visit https://www.artwalksquare.ca/ or follow @artwalksquare on Instagram for details.