The Nanaimo Artwalk is entering its third decade, and while some participating artists have taken part for many years, others are getting involved for the very first time.
The 21st edition of the Artwalk comes to businesses and studios mostly in the downtown on Dec. 7 and 8. More than 50 artists will be showing their work in 29 locations.
Artwalk committee member Gerda Hofman has been involved since the beginning and has been showing her work on the Artwalk for 16 years. She said there are “quite a few” younger artists and artists new to the event participating this year.
“You should help get the younger ones started because it’s not that easy nowadays. I think it is harder than when I grew up,” Hofman said.
“I’ve had help, too, in my life and I take so much out of the community as an artist, but you have to put something back in. And if you can’t help your own kind, who can you help?”
Displaying her pop-art inspired body of work for the first time is painter Brenna Sherlock. She said she got a lot out of attending last year’s Artwalk and was left inspired seeing all the people on the street excited about viewing local art.
“In all the cities I’ve lived in art walks are like Christmas for artists because we get to also see what other people are making and that inspiration in a small town … really warms up the whole community,” she said.
Sherlock said she’s been working on her current body of work for more than 10 years and she’s excited to now be unveiling her oeuvre at her studio.
“It’s always nice to sell, but a lot of what I’m creating is just because I was driven to make it,” she said. “And part of the experience is eventually to show the pieces and so I’m looking forward to having people who care about art in our town coming and engaging with art.”
Jeweller Karin Schieber was motivated to join the Artwalk because she was new in town and wanted to make some connections and get some exposure. That was 10 years ago. Now she has returning customers from across the Island and from Vancouver.
She said at this time of year people are cheerful even when the weather is dour. She said she was surprised two years ago when visitors came to her display at Iris Eyewear while it was raining, but they just said, “This is B.C.”
“They bundle up and they come and everybody’s excited about Christmas and people are just in a good mood and friendly and looking for unusual things which they usually don’t find in a regular store,” she said.
Schieber said she’s grateful to the local businesses for bringing the artists into their stores. Hofman said the Artwalk brings customers into the stores as well, making the event a shared boon.
“Artists by themselves can’t make it,” she said. “If you can co-operate with other parts of the community, I think you can do each other a favour and help each other.”