West Coast Fine Arts Show was held at Glass House Estate Winery in Aldergrove last September. (Aldergrove Star files)

West Coast Fine Arts Show was held at Glass House Estate Winery in Aldergrove last September. (Aldergrove Star files)

West Fine Art’s spring show pivots to virtual gallery for first time ever

Exhibition, which raises funds for hungry children, was initially going to be at Aldergrove winery

West Fine Arts Show is going ahead this April, but in a completely different capacity than it ever has before; online.

Initially set for April 9 to 11 at Glass House Estate Winery – where it was last held in September – the decision was made to hold it virtually at the end of March.

Brian Croft, president of the West Fine Arts Show, said the last few months had been spent developing COVID-19 compliant plans, which would have seen social distancing measures, sanitization, and masks.

“We have been pro-active by adjusting our show plans, moving the date and incorporating all COVID-19 restrictions and requirements,” Croft said. “We fully support the restrictions of our provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and embrace her now-famous call – ‘Be kind, Be calm, Be safe’.”

Ultimately, with the arrival of new virus variants, rising case rates, and talk of a third wave, Croft said he was not surprised that restrictions were not lifted.

“We disliked the idea that we might have to cancel, and so some time ago we decided to develop a contingency plan that would pivot our show into an online format,” Croft explained.

READ MORE: Art in the time of COVID: how a Langley exhibition managed it

The show has been previously held at wineries and school gymnasiums, but never online.

One upside that the organizer is feeling positive about is that people will have more time to peruse the art offerings as the show now runs for April 9 to 30.

“Glass House could safely fit 18 artists, so the positive with this is that I got to reach out to more artists who have been involved with us before,” Croft noted. “We added about about 10 more to the show and there still might be a few more coming yet.”

Visitors enter the show at www.westart.ca and many navigate at their own pace throughout the online show space.

All 28 artists are listed on the main menu and clicking on a name transports visitors to a mini-gallery all about the artists and their work.

From the artists’ mini-gallery, it will be possible to email or phone them or visit the artist’s website to make inquiries or purchases.

“Being an online show, our hours are 24 hours a day, however, we ask that direct contact with artists by phone be be during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily,” Croft added.

He did celebrate the fact that more time may give more exposure as the show doesn’t often get enough time to generate traction on social media.

One thing remaining the same about West Fine Art Show is the charitable motivation.

“This will be our fourth year partnered with the Langley School District Foundation,” Croft explained. “During our show, artists will donate 25 per cent of their sales at the show, to this foundation; this means, when you purchase art, you are also helping in this important work.”

The foundation was established to provide and facilitate programs such as the food for thought campaign and Starfish Backpack program, which aim to feed hungry students from low income families in the community.

This will be the fourth spring edition of the show and most of the art up for sale will be interpretations of western Canadian life.

There will be a few art pieces by Croft, Rosemary Wallace, and other local artists up for grabs as a draw prizes. People can enter to win by donating to the foundation.

“It’s lots of work adapting it for online,” Croft said. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about connecting people with art.”

Have a story tip? Email: newsroom@aldergrovestar.com

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