UGM’s fourth Eastside Culture Crawl gallery showcases photography, paintings, art from the downtown eastside community
Vancouver, BC—Two years ago, when recovering addicts Ian Savage and Liam Leishman enrolled in Union Gospel Mission’s Photo 101 program, they had no idea it would be the catalyst to dramatically change both their futures. Since enrolling, their works of art—paintings and installations as well as photographs—have been displayed in local galleries, will be featured in a new book and both men will be facilitating a new sponsored photography program next spring. On Friday, November 16, this year’s Photo 101 graduates, along with other artists, will showcase their work during the Eastside Culture Crawl. Entitled Uncovering Vision, UGM’s weekend-long gallery kicks-off with a reception that runs from 5:00pm to 5:45pm on the Friday.
Photo 101 is a weekly, two-month class for a small group of participants from UGM’s programs to learn about photography and composition. Taught by renowned professional photographer Kevin Clark, participants are given Holga cameras to explore their neighbourhood while striving to capture beauty. For many participants it’s about more than taking pictures—it’s discovery of the art and discovery of self.
“Since I was a kid, I could talk for hours about art, but I never considered myself an artist,” explains Liam. “At most I considered myself an outsider artist. But then I took Photo 101 and everything just clicked. It was like an epiphany or something and I couldn’t get enough. I suddenly realized I can actually be one of these people. I can be an artist. It’s a whole new life.”
The class culminated with the special gallery opening, available to all Vancouverites. “A big part of that realization was participating in the Culture Crawl,” continues Liam. “It was all new to me and a real rush. For the first time in my life, my work was perfectly framed, hanging on the walls with all these other works, and people were coming to look at it. It was just a thrill. I haven’t looked back since.”
Since then, both Liam and Ian have become members of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver and are becoming known in the arts community. Ian, who has an MFA (Master’s of Fine Arts), is teaching cartoon drawing at the UBC Learning Exchange and will soon be teaching pastels and oils. Both men have raised money to purchase their own cameras, maintain a website to showcase their art, and have been supporting other men in recovery to develop their own photography skills.
Ian explains how this creative element plays a significant role in maintaining their sobriety.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” he says, “I for one do not like attending AA meetings. Having this creative outlet through photography is a catalyst in my sobriety. It’s not the only thing that keeps me sober, but it makes me think. I’m so thankful for a little program called ‘Photography 101’. It’s beyond amazing.”
Photographs from Photo 101 represent only a portion of art to be showcased at the UGM’s Uncovering Vision gallery. Eighteen women who have participated in UGM’s Art from the Heart program will display 10 works of art, some as collaborations, and some as individual projects. This eight-week summer workshop was created and is supported by internationally renowned artist Pamela Masik in an effort to encourage women in the community to reach within and express themselves creatively though healing art. They work with an art therapist to support them in their healing and personal growth.
The newest addition to Uncovering Vision is a partnership with the Window Community Art Shop, a non-profit social enterprise that showcases art created and sold in the Downtown Eastside. They sell thousands of hand-crafted items and involve more than 150 local artists. Uncovering Vision will feature eight works of art by Window artists.
This is Union Gospel Mission’s fourth year involved in the Eastside Culture Crawl and the first time that selected works of art will be available for purchase.
What: Opening night: UGM Eastside Culture Crawl Kick-Off Reception
Date: Friday, November 16, 2012
Time: 5:00PM to 5:45 PM
Location: Maurice McElrea Place, 361 Heatley Avenue, Vancouver
Connect with the artists and visit us over the weekend:
• Friday: 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM (reception and short program 5:00PM – 5:45PM)
• Saturday & Sunday: 11:00AM to 6:00PM
Photo 101 and Art From The Heart have been made possible not only by professionals donating their time and resources—Pamela Masik, Kevin Clark and Leah Gregg—but by businesses providing supplies:
• Rocket Repro: donated film processing and scanning for all Photo 101 film.
• Opus Art Supplies: provided art supplies for Art From The Heart.
• Ethical Bean: provided 20 pounds of coffee, and equipment to brew it.
• Beau Photo: in 2009, they provided the HOLGA cameras used in Photo 101.
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for over 70 years. Through its 8 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit www.ugm.ca.
08/11/2012Back to Media Centre