The week leading up to last Saturday wasn't looking promising, weather-wise, predicting cloudy skies and high chance of rain. But as 85 artists headed to the Britannia Heritage Shipyards to prepare for the fourth annual Steveston Grand Prix of Art, the skies cleared and the sun shone through on the biggest rendition to date.
"I'm still on a high from the event, I think," said Mark Glavina, owner of Phoenix Workshop in Steveston and organizer of the grand prix which gives artists just three hours to complete their work. "It was amazing. There was such a range of artwork, some really great stuff. It was the perfect light with the perfect conditions for painting."
The lengthy deliberation process spoke to the quality and amount of artwork received, as the judges took longer than usual trying to decide who to award the top three adult and youth prizes, according to Glavina.
"I think the best part is when everyone has to wait outside until the judges make their decision," said Angela Soon of Britannia Heritage Shipyards. "It's exciting to see them waiting in anticipation. They can't wait to get inside and look at all the work."
By the time 3:30 p.m. rolled around and the decisions had been made, there was already a lineup of about 300 eager people stretching through the park.
Such a crowd and increase in artist participation has management at Britannia and Glavina thinking about expanding the exhibition space next year to the newly renovated Seine Net Loft, which has its grand opening tomorrow (Sept. 26) at 5 p.m.
"That will give the event some more flexibility so that if it wants to grow, we'll have the space to grow it," said Marie Fenwick, site manager at Britannia. "This is a great community event that engages both local artists and youth. It really links the whole community together."
This year saw a record number of young artists, making up 30 of the 85.
Out on the street, artist John Beatty witnessed a sense of community first hand, as he was placed in front of the Cannery Café. Crowds of people didn't hesitate to come up and talk to him, asking questions and taking pictures.
"I really liked how interested people were," said the longtime artist and Richmond resident. "I had a great location this time. I ended up parking my easel on the street to get a good angle, so sometimes I'd end up helping people park their cars so they wouldn't run me over."
The Grand Champion was Stephen Chen who received the Coast Capital Savings $500 cash prize for his oil painting Clouds of Fall. Chen's son Joshua won the youth category last year.
In second place, came John Hoffman receiving the Community Arts Council of Richmond (CACR) $250 cash prize and third place was given to Leo Hu, receiving the CACR $150 cash prize.
The winner of the Gert Young Award for the youth category was Iris Lee, followed by Vania Eng and Tamara Steves. Honourable mention was given to Dan Gray, Annie Tsai and Appllo Reerente.
The exhibition is on at the Chinese Bunk House until Sunday, Sept. 29. The People's Choice Award will be announced on the Sunday, so cast your vote for your favourite grand prix artist.
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