Activating change in Victoria’s arts scene

The visual art community of Victoria is in a transitory state. Not long ago, the whole of Victoria’s contemporary visual art scene seemingly consisted of traditional galleries. Today, the arts are being driven through activating public places or combining the arts with other activities to help give people a sense of community. For example, artists like Kimberly Dean, co-founder of Templed Mind, have been working to make contemporary art more accessible to the Victoria masses.

Founded in 2013, Templed Mind began in Fernwood as an environment for people to grow through physical movement, creative expression, and community collaboration.

Kimberly Dean is one of many artists reinvigorating the Victoria art scene. Photo by Regan Shrumm

Kimberly Dean is one of many artists reinvigorating the Victoria art scene. Photo by Regan Shrumm

Templed Mind offers a range of classes, from meditation and yoga to acrylic abstract painting facilitated by Dean herself. However, all of the workshops incorporate a connec-tedness of community and personal growth. When Dean teaches her abstract painting class, she says that she is “the gentle voice in [students’] ear[s], facilitating them to let go. The act of letting go and changing perspectives is a lesson that can translate into [other] areas of your life.”

Beginning this October, Dean explains that Templed Mind will no longer be location specific. Instead, Templed Mind will be curating events and workshops around the city to reach all Greater Victoria communities.

Dean has also participated in Art Battle, a popular event that takes place monthly at the Victoria Event Centre. This live competitive painting showdown lets the audience watch as artists have 20 minutes to create their best work. “I love the spontaneity of it,” says Dean. “I think that there is something really exciting about doing it in front of people.”

Similarly, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria hosts Urbanite, an entertaining art community event rather than the standard gallery viewing, which follows a greater trend. Hosted three times a year, Urbanite breaks traditional art gallery decorum with lively music and drinks. Featuring exhibition tours and hands-on activities, the events are all based on a larger exhibit.

The City of Victoria will concurrently be following this trend of an untraditional gallery space. The City recently announced the opening of an interactive media display located within the back staircase of the Yates Street Parkade. Monkey C Interactive will be installing a musical railing, with body motions triggering LED lights and sounds. A preview of this media art was seen at the Yates Street Parkade through this year’s Thinklandia.

“I think that the arts culture in Victoria has always been changing to include different aspects of the life and the community,” states Doug Jarvis, a performance artist and past Thinklandia speaker. “Art is unapolo-getic. So, I don’t think our goal needs to be advising art on what it should do, but more getting the word out there that we need to be more open to the fact that it exists.”

In fact, all these new ways of displaying art may inspire others to create their own pieces or perfor-mances. As Dean states, “I like to bring art to people in a form that they are inspired to create something themselves.”

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