Local filmmaker documents Vancouver artist
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
Imagine walking along a downtown Vancouver street and seeing a man on the sidewalk working on a painting. Would you notice him? Would you ask to see his artwork?
That’s what filmmaker Josh Laner hopes to bring attention to with his latest documentary, What About Ken? which follows a year in the life of artist Ken Foster, who has spent 20 years creating and selling his art on the streets of downtown Vancouver.
“He’s such a multi-faceted artist,” said Laner, who has worked with Foster over the past 13 months. “He doesn’t just do one style of painting or drawing; it’s really anything you put in front of him, he’s able to accomplish artistically.”
The idea for the documentary came about when Laner was between projects and looking for his next subject. He had collected some of Foster’s artwork, so when he and his wife passed by the artist one day, his wife suggested the man be the subject of Laner’s next project.
“I’m hoping people are brought to the film by the art but stay because of the amazing story,” Laner said. “A lot of people are honestly scared to go and interact with someone like Ken, so I think that can be an intriguing and alluring thing for someone to see.”
The film offers something for everyone, featuring inspiring footage of Foster creating his masterpieces from scratch as well as moving discussions about his life as a street artist.
“It’s a unique thing to be able to watch an artist during the peak of their creativity and then to get in their mind as much as you can and see their process,” Laner said.
“I feel really honoured to be able to watch him work because there are times where he starts a painting and it looks like it’s going one direction and then by the time it’s finished it’s gone through, like, 15 mutations to get to where it is.”
A memorable moment for Laner during the film’s production was when he and Foster went to visit the artist’s mother.
“It was a pretty emotional moment for her to see him. They don’t get to see each other very often,” he said. “He brought her a piece of artwork that he had made the previous night and she started crying. It was just a really special moment to see.”
For more information about the film, check out the Kickstarter campaign, which features details about the film and crew, samples of Foster’s art, and video clips of Foster creating his artwork. The campaign also offers rewards for various donation amounts, several of which include a piece of art from Foster.
“Any of the rewards where you’re going to get a piece of art from Ken, those are the special rewards,” Laner said. “I think to own a piece of his now is to get in before it explodes and things are way too expensive to even buy from him anymore. I’m hoping that this film sheds quite a light on him.”
The Kickstarter campaign runs until October 23 and seeks $10,000 to finish production on the film.