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Richmond art show challenges artistic eye

GuessWho? exhibits 100-plus pieces, but leaves artists anonymous
Photo Submitted Sid Akselrod’s art class (above, below) at Steveston-London were eager to work on pieces for the GuessWho? art show at Pioneer Church, set for Nov. 2.

By 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, artist Loraine Wellman anticipates a lineup snaking around the small Pioneer Church, flooding the doors as soon as they open — viewers ambling to get a look at all of the 10x10 canvases before choosing which one to take home.

The Richmond Artist Guild has organized the first GuessWho? event, an art show where all the pieces cost $100, but the artist remains anonymous until the work is purchased.

“It’s more of a challenge for people to see what they have an eye for, and they’ll have a bit of fun guessing,” said Wellman, one of the organizers of the show. “The important thing is that it doesn’t really matter who did the work.”

Community members will have 15 minutes to look through the 100-plus paintings and photographs before they’re allowed to buy. Artists have signed their works on the back, but art-buyers will be purchasing blind until the transaction is completed.

“I’m really impressed with the variety and the level of paintings we’ve been getting already,” said Wellman.

About 31 students’ works from Steveston-London secondary will hang beside those of well-known professionals from across the Lower Mainland such as Joyce Kamikura, John Ferrie, Chris Charlebois and Dennis Magnusson.

“It really evens the playing field,” said Precilia Kong, a Grade 12 student. “If you’re less known, but have a lot of talent, it allows you to express this artistic ability to the community.”

The art scene in Richmond has recently seen an influx of motivated youth, eager to showcase their pieces outside of school. This year’s Steveston Grand Prix of Art saw the highest number of youth register.

“They’re really skilled and confident,” said Steveston-London art teacher Sid Akselrod. “Kids are brave, way braver than most adults. They don’t think too much before throwing themselves into something. It’s good for them to feel something special and different. We need them to continue it on and invest in that creative community spirit.”

Akselrod, who heads his school’s art club, bought about two-dozen canvases for students to participate in the show. Within days, he had run out.

“It feels wonderful to be able to display beside professional artists,” said Daniel Fang, also in Grade 12. “I feel like I can get some recognition for my work, while also helping the community.”

Artists receive $50 when their piece sells, with the other $50 going to the Richmond Food Bank.

Wellman also hopes the event encourages people to buy art and realize it doesn’t always have to be an expensive purchase.

“Once people have an original piece of art in their house, the IKEA posters aren’t going to cut it anymore,” she said. “They’ll start investing in more and supporting the community.”

Artists have until Oct. 23 to submit up to three pieces of art. On Nov. 2, the event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but buyers are encouraged to show up early as pieces are expected to go fast.