When a local arts group couldn’t find a location in the city to hold an exhibit of their work they started thinking outside the box and found space inside a local brewery’s warehouse.
“We searched diligently for well over three weeks for space that was affordable in the city and there was nothing available,” said art consultant Joanne Poluch of Remarque Art Consulting. “We thought about the brewery and Sarah came on board with the idea.”
Sarah Dawkins is general manager for Wellington Brewery on Woodlawn Road where they agreed to let Art$Pay Now organizers stage a contemporary art exhibit in the brewery’s warehouse on Governors Road.
“Art$Pay Now seems to have similar ideals to Wellington in terms of community and art,” said Dawkins. “It is a unique opportunity to make people aware of artists in our community as well as Wellington Brewery. I think it is a nice fit because we do reach out to local artists for a lot of our design work and marketing and this is another fun project.”
Art$Pay Now is a Kitchener-Waterloo based organization of around 120 artists that stages exhibits in the KW area.
“There will be six shows that happen annually with the organization,” said Poluch. “Not only is it about selling and showing work, the organization is about mentorship and professional development and exposing local artists to the mentorship aspect of the art business.”
The organization’s focus is on artists from KW but Poluch approached Art$Pay Now coordinator Cathy Farwell last December about including Guelph artists in the shows.
“She was reluctant at first to include artists outside KW but we discussed it and she opened the door,” said Poluch. “We were then faced with the situation of looking for space here to make that happen.”
Poluch said Guelph has a reputation for being an artsy town but that is not represented in the resources and support available to the arts community.
“The situation in Kitchener is completely different from Guelph,” she said. “They have people from the community in Kitchener that will approach the arts community and say we’ve got this empty warehouse here or you can have this space. Let’s get something going. This is not happening in Guelph at all.”
Lack of support for the arts in Guelph is not a new problem for artists such as abstract landscape artist Sharyn Seibert, encaustic artist Deborah Dryden and photographic artist Annette Twist who have been raising the issue since the 1980s.
“In terms of economics this is what brings people to Guelph,” said Seibert. “Why do people go to Europe? They go for the art and the culture. Why isn’t there a gallery space at City Hall? What about the new library? What about the rec centres and other city and corporate locations? If we had more opportunities to show our art here it would have a spinoff – a payoff economically.”
Dryden is an organizer with the Guelph Studio Tour, a nonprofit that invites people to visit the private studios of local artists.
“It’s all for the community but it’s a lot of work and we do all of our own PR,” said Dryden. “We pay to produce our brochures and then we have to pay the city to exhibit them at the museum in their space.”
They hope the pop-up and portable nature of the Art$Pay Now exhibits will encourage the city and property owners to host more events in their vacant spaces.
“At any rate, this opportunity is one that is long overdue to find a way to keep our group shows on a consistent basis,” said Twist. “The system is portable. We come with staff, lighting and volunteers. It’s good just to be able to count on a space in whatever form that takes.”
The situation has forced them to do something artists are typically good at - be creative.
“It would probably be unthinkable initially as a place to have an art show but the artists have an opportunity to display their work in an unusual place and Wellington gets to showcase their beers,” said Poluch. “We see it as a win-win for all the players involved.”
The two-day exhibit will feature 25 local artists as well as brewery tours, craft beer tasting, food pairing and live music by Jonathan Knight. For advanced tickets and more information about the event visit the website