Art is fundamental to our wellbeing, culture, and economy
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
“Art is a journey that speaks to you as a person and allows you to dive into your psyche.”- Alejandro Chavarria
Vancouver Art Community provides local creatives with resources and a platform to showcase their art and opportunities to expand their skills. Art is symptomatic of the environment in which artists create. Vancouver Art Community started as a Facebook group in 2017 and has branched out into a blog that features artists and a calendar of local events centred on promoting the creative economy. The team has also assisted in turning art enthusiasts into first-time art collectors.
The Other Press interviewed Alejandro Chavarria, the ambassador for Vancouver Art Community, about how art is fundamental for our community, economy, and sanity. Over a year into the global pandemic, local creatives have felt the impact, with galleries and studios unable to host events that allow for meaningful connection. With no end in sight, pages like that of Vancouver Art Community are quintessential to promoting artwork and facilitating discourse. Chavarria says that “art is a direct sounding board to the desire for human connection and self-discovery, and art is a journey that speaks to you as a person and allows you to dive into your psyche.”
Chavarria has firsthand seen how art has developed over this tumultuous time. “I have noticed and noted that making art is a form of therapy, an uncapped form of self-expression that allows for a narrative of exploration to develop not just within the artists, but also within you as the viewer.” Even those not artistically inclined can benefit from viewing art, even if just through a screen.
One of the events organized by the Vancouver Art Community is SNAG which has been a part of the community for over eight years; it was launched by Drew Young who is a curator for the Vancouver Mural Festival. The Vancouver Art Community took on the responsibility of SNAG. Pre-COVID, there was a different theme each month, such as watercolours or tattoos. People from other communities would come together at these shows to support artists and mingle. Chavarria says, “[SNAG] was able to break barriers and act as a centrepiece for conversation. We have lost a lot of that momentum due to COVID.” Nowadays, artists can connect over the Vancouver Art Community Discord.
Artists are continuously pushing against societal barriers, breaking down norms, and addressing social issues. Chavarria encourages artists “to take risks, push boundaries and explore more to take my breath away, so I put my phone down.” Maybe the reason artists are steering away from risk-taking is that they still need to capitalize from their art. Once the artist invests time and money to create a piece, the more unorthodox approach may negate profit. This constitutes a discrepancy between what could be and what they make because it guarantees buyers.
There are many talented artists and innovations currently happening in the local art community. The experience of augmented reality in mural fest transformed public space into a visual trip. Some work that Chavarria wants to highlight and comment on is by ArtbyPekoe: “Pekoe’s [artwork] has made me stop and think for a moment. However, the artwork is not available for public viewing just yet and will be displayed in a gallery soon.”