15 February 2019

Reflections from our Curator

Heather Loney joined SAQA in 2011, after seeing a SAQA trunk show at a Mayflower Guild retreat. She has since participated in all three SAQA Atlantic exhibitions and was curator for our most recent travelling show, Transitions. Today, Heather shares some of her thoughts about her curatorial experience and some suggestions for future curators. 


Publicity for Transitions, artwork by Helene Blanchet

How would you describe the role of curator for SAQA Atlantic exhibitions?

There are several roles involved in running an art show for SAQA Atlantic.

The first involves the art pieces: Selecting and describing the theme, deciding on the number, size and form of pieces to be accepted, dates for entries, jury completion and receiving artwork. Later, seeking help from members for getting the pieces to and from the galleries as well as hanging and taking down the shows.


Another role deals with the galleries: Researching gallery requirements and preparing proposals accordingly; adjusting to their timelines and maintaining contact both before and during the shows.


A third role is publicity: Creating a poster and written material to inform the public about the exhibits. 



What have you learned about the value of these exhibitions to SAQA members? 

For many of our members, selling art quilts is their livelihood. Not only do our shows help them reach a public market for their work, but they also educate the public about quilts as art.


What did you most enjoy about the role of curator?

I had the most fun walking quietly behind visitors as they examined the art pieces, eavesdropping on their conversations. I overheard many comments like “Wow! I didn’t know quilts could be art.” Or “Look at the work on this piece. Isn’t it amazing!”

It was rewarding to make some good connections in the Maritime art world. I also enjoyed being a tourist in places I hadn’t visited, during the few hours leading up to each show opening.  



What was the most difficult or frustrating aspect of the work?

Nothing was particularly difficult. For me, the biggest challenge was being responsible for the whole show myself. Although I frequently checked in with our regional rep, Regina Marzlin, all decisions were mine. All contact and contracts with SAQA and the galleries, collection of the artwork and preparation for hanging, as well as transportation to and from their destinations, and eventually to the buyers, was up to me. I didn’t realize until part way through our show that some galleries didn’t do a lot to advertise our show, so that task can fall on the curator as well.

On the up side, my studio underwent a good cleaning and decluttering so I could store the collection (between shows) and all the mailing boxes.



Do you have any advice regarding the curation of future SAQA Atlantic shows?

I think the next show should be curated by a team of two or better, three, people: one to manage the artwork, another, the galleries and a third for publicity. Tasks such as handling sales and transportation could be shared by the team. 

It would also be nice if the next show could be seen more widely across the region. Our first show, Rooted, hung in three galleries in NS; our second show, Structures, was shown in five galleries, including NS, NB and PEI. The Transitions tour included four galleries in two provinces: NS and NB. None has been to Newfoundland.

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We are grateful to Heather Loney for curating our latest and most successful show, and for sharing that experience with us here. Stay tuned to our blog for an upcoming feature of Heather’s own artwork.


Halifax in Transition 1: View from Citadel Hill, Halifax
by Heather Loney w28"x h29"



Spotlight on Fiona Oxford

Glorious Geckos by Fiona Oxford (2019)


Glorious Geckos, by Fiona Oxford of Waverley NS, is our 4th entry into the 2019 Spotlight Auction. Fiona spends much of the winter in Sarasota, Florida.


Here's what Fiona told us about her contribution:
I see these wonderful Geckos everywhere I walk in Sarasota. They have become my muses.





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The Spotlight Auction is an opportunity for all SAQA members to have their work showcased at the 2019 SAQA Conference in San Jose, California. The pieces are auctioned at the conference with proceeds going to SAQA's exhibition programs. An online participation form must be completed before March 1, 2019 and artwork must arrive in Virginia by March 8, 2019. Further information is available here.


The Spotlight Auction is also an opportunity for SAQA Atlantic members to have their work featured on our blog, to be enjoyed by those of us not attending the annual conference. If you've contributed to the 2019 auction, please let us have a sneak peek at your piece!

05 February 2019

Spotlight on Holly McLean

Holly McLean, of Bathurst NB contributed Chickadee Friend on the Snowshoe Trail to the 2019 Spotlight Auction.

Chickadee Friend on the Snowshoe Trail by Holly McLean


Here's what Holly told us about her contribution:

This is a chickadee that has been eating sunflower seeds from my hand. Feeding birds always brings me joy, especially when I’m out on a trail and they come to my hands.   

You can read more about Holly McLean and her artwork on her blog Through my Window, and on our own 2017 feature
Holly McLean Interview: Overcoming Distance and Isolation. 

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The Spotlight Auction is an opportunity for all SAQA members to have their work showcased at the 2019 SAQA Conference in San Jose, California. The pieces are auctioned at the conference with proceeds going to SAQA's exhibition programs. An online participation form must be completed before March 1, 2019 and artwork must arrive in Virginia by March 8, 2019. Further information is available here.


The Spotlight Auction is also an opportunity for SAQA Atlantic members to have their work featured on the SAQA Atlantic blog, to be enjoyed by those of us not attending the annual conference. If you've contributed to the 2019 auction, please let us have a sneak peek at your piece!

03 February 2019

Artist Julea Boswell talks about her new inventory system and online portfolio

Avant Garde 2 by Julea Boswell w8" x h16"
SAQA Atlantic member Julea Boswell, from Frenchfort PEI (and Ottawa ON) recently launched her online portfolio on a platform called Artwork Archive.  

Julea is an abstract acrylic and mixed-media artist, a modern quilt designer-maker and a part-time contemporary dance company manager. 

Last week, Julea had a chat with Cathy Drummond, about her experience with Artwork Archive.

See Julea's new portfolio: 
www.artworkarchive.com/profile/julea-boswell


Julea, how did you come to choose Artwork Archive as your online presence?

JB:  Actually, I was searching for a simple art inventory system before even realizing it would serve the purpose of also being a public portfolio. Last fall, when I was making several submissions of my work, the job of pulling together all the details for the submissions from scratch each time became a real chore. It was cumbersome finding files, remembering which image was the latest perfectly-cropped final version, finding the details of the piece, dimensions, specific materials used, pricing and so on. My files were a mix-mash! All of a sudden I’d reached a tipping point and had a large enough body of work that I really needed a system to view all my work in one place and have everything readily at-hand. It occurred to me there must be some ready-made web tools and sure enough I found Artwork Archive. 


How many pieces do you have on the site? 

JB: I have 32 loaded in my inventory right now. But there are older ones I'll eventually add, such as the functional quilts I made before I started making art quilts and paintings. With Artwork Archive, you have the option to make a piece public, or not, with a simple checkbox. My priority was to get the ones I wanted to show publicly on the site first.

How simple is Artwork Archive to use?

JB: If you can drag and drop images and fill out an online form, it's literally that easy! Once you load a couple of pieces, you really get to know it. There's a drop-down menu where you can choose the status of the work too: in progress, available, sold, destroyed, archived, etc.


Is it expensive?

JB: It's free for the first month with up to 50 pieces. That was fine for me to get started. There are then 3 levels of payment. The cheapest, at US$6 per month, allows people to whom you give your URL to view your site, and that's what I have for now. If you want your work to be available to anyone searching your name, it’s US$12 a month.  


Is there a way to back-up or download your files if you need to, for example if Artwork Archive should no longer meet your needs?

JB: All the main data items are fully exportable. You have the option to export to a CSV or Excel file anytime. 

How does it work as an online portfolio?

JB: This is what I think is really great. I was at the point where I knew I should be creating a website, but it seemed like a bigger job than I had time for right now. As soon as I saw that Artwork Archive could be a public portfolio too - and the portfolios I looked at were all great - I just went for it. Every time I add a new piece to my inventory it can become part of my public portfolio with one click. Another thing I find really good is the way you can organize the work by "collections". I work in different mediums and my work is varied in style. I wanted to find a way to present both my art quilt pieces and my other work in a cohesive way. 


Screenshot, Artwork Archive


So, am I right to say that you would recommend Artwork Archive to our readers as both an archive and a web presence?

JB: For sure. If you're an artist who would like to create an online presence, don’t hesitate. New tools like this make it easy and allow you to work along at your own pace. The biggest job is the initial upload so don't delay, the more pieces you have the bigger the job becomes!

Julea, thank you so much for introducing us to this interesting tool.  It certainly sounds easy and useful.


Improv Curves 1-2-3 by Julea Boswell w8" x h8"


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Thank you to both Julea and Cathy for producing today's blog post. We always welcome members' submissions.