Artist gains and growing pains for 32nd annual Paint-In

Victoria’s largest one-day art event takes to Moss Street on July 20

Felicia Santarossa /Monday Magazine contributor

For the 32nd year in a row, Moss Street is being transformed into both an outdoor art studio and gallery.

The TD Art Gallery Paint-In, happening July 20, features over 100 artists demonstrating their creative process and selling their work, in a fundraiser staged by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

For artists like Marina Fierz, the event “definitely” builds community.

“As you walk around, you’ll notice some of the booths are really accessible to the general public,” she says. “It’s a great way for people who know nothing about art to come and at least learn the basics, or find some of their favourite artists and get inspiration from them.”

Artist Marina Fierz, who works with alcohol-based inks, is pictured in her studio. She is one of hundreds of artists participating in the 32nd annual TD Art Gallery Paint-In on Moss Street and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Photo by Felicia Santarossa

With exposure to 10,000 people in one day, the event can create plenty of connections – not to mention sales – for artists in Victoria and surrounding areas.

“Basically the Paint-In is my main source of inspiration and projects and commissions for the year,” says Fierz, “so it’s like the beginning of my artist year. Kind of like my artist new year that way.”

Given the huge number of attendees and participants, adds acrylic painter Laura Bonnie, the event is a “really viable way” to gain feedback on her work. “The past couple of years it’s been really nice to see others’ reactions to my paintings,” she says.

Between artists and Paint-In volunteers, there’s a wide age range of people involved, from teenagers to people in their 70s and 80s. Event spokesperson Julia Pauselius says that shows just how encompassing this event is.

Plein air artist Kathleen Trayner estimates she volunteered for “at least half” of the Paint-Ins before setting up her booth as an artist. She’s coming back for a third year this time around.

“People are always curious,” she says. “I love the kids, the kids are so curious. I think kids these days are told ‘don’t touch that, don’t look at that, don’t get too close,’ [but this] is a way to get them closer to art.”

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The free all-day event began in 1987, when everyone from art fanatics to casual appreciators of the craft witnessed local artists working in real-time. While that still holds true, the event has expanded over the years to include many more mediums.

Visitors can expect not just painters, but crafters of artisan jewelry, wood carvings and more. Other features include imagination stations where you can exercise your creativity, a live music stage and even a beer garden.

With the Paint-In growing dramatically over the last couple years, the Gallery has had to figure out its role in engaging with the public, Pauselius says. Especially this year, she adds, they are trying to home in on the idea of bringing the community together.

“It’s not just a sales event, but really inviting people to be playful, to engage, to be curious and ask questions, and then come to the Gallery to have a drink and some food.”

The Paint-In street art runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the gallery open from 10 to 6. Moss Street will be closed to traffic before and after. As well, side streets ending at Moss will only be open to local traffic. For more information, visit aggv.ca/paint-in or call the gallery at 250-384-4171.

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