When Marilyn Strongitharm first started approaching local artists about donating art work to two Nanaimo shelters, she thought she’d receive about a dozen pieces. She ended up with more than 100.
Over the last few weeks, Strongitharm, a member of the Nanaimo Group of Artists and the Nanaimo chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists, collected more than 100 works of art by more than 30 artists for Haven Society and the Island Crisis Care Society to display in their Haven House and Samaritan House shelters.
“I thought that we should just start collecting some art for some group because we all have extra bits and pieces sitting around that either isn’t part of the style that we have or just hasn’t sold,” she said. “Haven House came up … and when I reached out to them they were just in awe that this was going to happen.”
Later, Strongitharm drove by the site of the new Samaritan House building and decided that shelter would a worthy recipient as well.
Strongitharm said artists have been accumulating art work since COVID-19 has hampered their ability to attend shows and sales. She said taking part in last November’s Nanaimo Artwalk, the first in two years, was “phenomenal” but added “we still have lots of art because everybody keeps doing their thing and we haven’t been able to get it out.”
Some of the work Strongitharm is delivering to Haven and Samaritan House has been shown in juried art exhibitions. She said, “This isn’t junk from somebody’s attic.”
“I’ve got huge, literally $500 paintings and I’ve got small, little sketches.” she said. “I do have some from a woman I reached out to who lives up in Parksville and her mother was an artist … and actually went over to Monaco on the invitation of Princess Grace. So these are the kinds of artists that are donating. It just blows me away.”
Strongitharm said she was brought to tears by the stories of some donating artists who have personal connections to organizations like Haven and Island Crisis Care Society.
“Two people that donated, one person went through Haven House through a bad marriage and another person experienced a horrific situation in Eastern Canada before they came out here,” she said. “So it comes from the heart.”
Strongitharm was also able to secure of a donation of 60 picture hooks from Home Hardware at Brooks Landing. She said, “It’s no sense taking all this lovely art to places and then they have to go running around to get hooks and nails or something to hang everything.”
“With all the negativity out there, this sort of positive project has just really grabbed a lot of people,” she said.