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5th Annual Art Show and Toy Drive at Studio 4 Tattoo Parlour in support of Gillian’s Place

5th Annual Art Show and Toy Drive at Studio 4 Tattoo Parlour in support of Gillian’s Place

It goes without saying, though it’s often ignored, that this time of year, this season, is a difficult one for many. The rampant consumerism or the lip service of the ‘twice yearly faithful’ make this a season where it won’t just be the cold that makes you prefer to stay inside. However, amidst the blather of flashing light, there’s notable events that need – and will appreciate – your support.

The 5th Annual Art Show and Toy Drive in support of Gillian’s Place is an art/music/party event at Studio 4 Tattoo Parlour on Sunday December 15th, from 3-7pm. There will be original artworks by Amber Lee Williams, a fine artist who I’ve spoken to about her diverse practice on numerous occasions — and if you need another reason to #buymoreart, know that 20% of the sales will be donated to Gillian’s Place. Besides an opportunity to see and purchase her fine work, DJ Marinko will also be providing the music that evening (as he did last year, as well).

But before I get into more details, here’s what else you need to know: Studio 4 Tattoo Parlour will be collecting new, unwrapped gifts from the Gillian’s Place wish list (which you can see here). These can be dropped off at Studio 4 up to (and on) the 17th of December, as they’ll be dropped off at Gillian’s Place on the 18th.

I sat down to talk with both Amber and Studio 4 owner Maggie Shields. They spoke of how the annual show / event / fundraiser began in 2015, and how it’s become something larger than originally envisioned. Maggie had scheduled Amber for a December exhibition in the store space and the idea of a community focused fundraiser led to the first Art Show and Toy Drive.

Both seemed almost surprised – in a happy, even gratified way – that this is not only the fifth anniversary, but that many in the wider community anticipate the Art Show and Toy Drive as a highlight of their December. The event is more like a Christmas party, aimed at tapping into consumerism in a positive way (as many people do love buying gifts for others at this time of year, and by looking at the options on the wish list, or even considering very real, needed things – from everyday items to gift cards, to that most wonderful thing of all, cash donations to many who truly need it, and will truly appreciate it). Past events saw Williams doing ‘on the spot’ blind contours as a fun – and very cool, if you’ve seen her fine portraits in this style – way to further generate cash for Gillian’s Place. This year, however, as Williams has been exploring the medium of Polariods, especially in terms of Polaroid Emulsions, she’ll be taking some shots (for a $20 donation to Gillian’s Place, and it will be a limited number, too) and reworking them into Polaroid Emulsion Lift pieces, ‘on the spot’; you can have a wonderfully unique artwork and support a worthy cause (did I say #buymoreart, already? Do it, as you support a local artist, get a wonderful piece to keep or to gift, and you’ve helped brighten someone’s December, besides your own).

Preserves #1, from the (un)hidden mother series, Amber Lee Williams.
Preserves #2, from the (un)hidden mother series, Amber Lee Williams.

The exhibition in the Studio 4 Tattoo Parlour space runs until January 31st, 2020: but any sales made before the 17th will see 20% directed to Gillian’s Place, as this will be added to all the gifts and other donations that Maggie will be delivering to Gillian’s Place, on the 18th. This is a good reason to purchase sooner, rather than later: but it’s also good to keep in mind that Gillian’s Place can use your support year round, even when the Christmas Season is behind us.

No More Tea, Amber Lee Williams, from her group exhibition at RHAC.
No More Tea, Amber Lee Williams, from her group exhibition at RHAC.

Studio 4 Tattoo Parlour is located at 157 St. Paul Street, in downtown St.Catharines. Shop hours are Noon to 7 PM, Tuesday to Saturday. Donations can be dropped off during regular hours, and their number is 905 668 2866. The online wish list for potential gifts and donations to Gillian’s Place can be found here.

untitled (in progress), from (un)hidden mothers, Amber Lee Williams.
Change, from (un)hidden mothers, Amber Lee Williams.

It’s actually a very nice storefront gallery space. Barry Smith showed a number of works there, several years ago, several artists from the Willow Arts Community have installed there this past fall, and it’s also showcased the work of in house tattoo artists. If you’re interested in showing your work at that site, you can contact Maggie Shields at for more details. All images in this piece are by Amber Lee Williams, and copyright of the artist. The header image, which is an example of the Polaroid Emulsion Lift works she’ll be making that evening, is titled Mother and Child.

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