I should start this article – a teaser, if you will – for the 2019 Willow Arts Community Fall Arts Extravaganza (exhibitions, performances, zines) at Rodman Hall Art Centre by listing off past accomplishments and events featuring the Willow Member Artists from this past year, but I prefer to talk about some of the works by Devon Hopcraft I saw when I visited the Open Studio this past week. The wild colours, the line work and the Pop-ish but also Surreal aesthetic was both fun and eye catching. He’s one of the artists whose work you’ll be able to see, this Thursday evening, at the reception and performances (December 5th, 6 – 8 PM). His work – and that by several other of the Willow Member Artists – will be on display at Rodman Hall Art Centre until January 5th, 2020.
The PSA is as follows: Please join
us for an inspired evening to celebrate all new work created during
the Fall 2019 Professional Arts Training season. We are proud to
showcase the work of 65 artists living with mental illness/substance
use in Niagara, taught by local professional artists. Willow Member
Artists will perform spoken word, original music, and improv games as
well as have their watercolour, zines, drawing, and mixed media art
Seasonal arts exhibitions help to create healthy dialogue about mental illness/substance use and are a great way to showcase the enormous talent our of member artists. Come on out and show your support!
It goes without saying that this is often a difficult time of year for any / many of us, I know engaging with creative spaces and individuals can serve to lift my own seasonal issues. The lineup for the evening of December 5th is very full. There will be 10 original songs from Joe Lapinski’s Songs from the Willow class, which has been a highlight of past Willow Arts Showcases: the Improv Troupe and Spoken Word performers will also be filling the space with words and creative energy that are both evocative in terms of poetics but also will share experiences and ideas that may be individual to the artists but can resonate with many of us in the audience.
Among the performers that night will be Ayaz Anis (you can find him at Instagram at @ayaz.anis) and you can listen to some of his work on Spotify as well (the link is in his Instagram profile). As I said at the beginning of this piece, that’s a good teaser, to inspire you to come out and experience other performers and poets from the Willow Arts Community.
It has been an eventful fall for Willow Arts, and this continues into this month and the new year: there’s also the D.D.L. & Co. Art Show & Sale, where ‘featured artists set and receive 100% of their sale price. An additional 15% has been added to this price to support the membership at Willow Arts Community.’ There’s an Open House for this, on Thursday, December 19th from 4-8 PM at DiPaola DiPietro Little & Co. (157 St. Paul Street in downtown St. Catharines). The eight artists on display in this include Sarah Carter, Jaia Konik, Colleen McTigue, Lisa Forstinger, Amanda Plante, Leah Lattimer, Carolyn Taylor, and Farrow Moscoe. I’m familiar with the works of three of the eight (Jaia shared some lovely images at a past Rodman Hall 5 x 2 Visual Conversations, Sarah has exhibited widely in a number of event / performance spaces in Niagara, and Colleen is one of the artists in the current City of St. Catharines 2019 Juried Annual Art Show).
Also available soon at the Willow site is the schedule for their Winter 2020 Professional Arts Training Season: and the quality of instructors and opportunities will again be at a very professional level. There will be an Open House for new artists to join on January 7th, 2020, and you can learn more about that here.
The Fall 2019 Arts Extravaganza (I’m calling it that, as its an intersection of art and performance and music) happens this Thursday, from 6 to 8 PM at Rodman Hall Arts Centre, and all are welcome. Willow Arts is not solely a support space (though many of the people I spoke with bring their lived experiences to their artworks, and though not defined by, are shaped by their past, as we all are), but offers art works of various media that can inspire and engage.
Unless otherwise captioned, all images are copyright / courtesy Willow Arts and the artists, respectively.
Bart Gazzola (also known as #artcriticfromhell) is an arts writer/critic who has published with Magenta Magazine, Canadian Art, New Art Gazette, Galleries West, PrairieSeen, Long Exposure and BlackFlash (where he was Editorial Chair for 3 years). He is Assistant Editor at thesound.rocks and a frequent contributor to various cultural spaces in Niagara.