Art in the County weathers COVID-19 crisis by moving exhibit online

BEST CHOICE- (From Left) Local Artsist Krista Dalby is presented the 2019 Art in The County People's and Children's Choice Awards by AITC Show co-chair Amy Schubert and sponsor Libby Crombie. (Submitted Photo)

SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

A global pandemic is forcing Prince Edward County’s annual juried show and sale to get creative in 2020.

Art in the County (AITC) is returning for the 27th year however this year, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the event will be held online from June 19th -July 31st.

The annual event  is presented by the Prince Edward County Arts Council (PECAC) and Welch LLP.

The show is sponsored by various community businesses, including: Arts on Main Gallery, City Revival, County Dental Care Picton, Gilbert & Lighthall Marketplace, Family Dentistry at Picton, The Local Store and The Manse Boutique Inn.

Since 1993, AITC has sold over $350,000 worth of art to collectors, buyers and art lovers alike. Artworks in a wide range of media are showcased, including watercolour, acrylic, oil and encaustic

paintings, sculpture, fiber, wood, photography, ceramics, glass and more.

With public health officials still recommending physical distancing, the normally busy event has found an innovative way to showcase local artists and their work.

Continuing the show, especially during these uncertain times, was important to PECAC in order to support local artists during this hardship. To that end, AITC has reduced the commission from 30 per cent to 15 per cent, allowing artists to earn as much as possible.

“Art in the County is an incredibly important show for our arts community,” says Janna Smith, Executive Director of PECAC. “We felt it was critical to support artists by adapting and moving forward together.”

Amy Shubert, AITC Organizing Committee Chair, echoed those sentiments.

“We thought about moving the show to August, but because things are just so uncertain, we thought we would do it online this year,” expressed Shubert. “We really just wanted to show our support to the artists in the County who have been affected by galleries being closed.”

Mayor Steve Ferguson, who plans to attend the online event, has lauded PECAC’s efforts to continue AITC, albeit in a different fashion.

“Kudos for pivoting in a way that will enable the public to see firsthand the great work of this important sector that will prevail once this is all over,” Ferguson enthused. “The role the arts play to assist the public through crises – and this is a crisis of unprecedented scale – can’t be underestimated, so many thanks for the efforts of all involved, disappointing as the circumstances are.”

In speaking with Shubert, she added that PECAC hopes to hold the event in the Armoury again next year

“We certainly hope to be back at the Armoury next year-that was such a fabulous spot and they’ve also been very supportive in this,” said Shubert. “This is just showing our support more than anything else and making sure there’s still an AITC presence. I think the support has been marvellous between the artist and sponsors.”

Logistically speaking, explained Shubert, those who want to view this year’s AITC must go to the their website where a link can be found that will take viewers directly to the show.

All the pieces have been categorized as per their medium, e.g. sculpture, acrylics, photography etc. Viewers will be able to magnify the various works on display so that even brushstrokes are visible.

“It’s certainly not the same as being there in person, but I think this is the next best thing. The platform is incredibly clear and lovely,” Shubert stated.

Artists can register as per normal, and for those unsure of how to best photograph their work, Janna Smith of PECAC is available to help. Shubert noted there are also some instructions as to how best to photograph artwork on the AITC website.

With so much attention being paid to the downside of moving events online, Shubert remains optimistic, hopeful that more people will be exposed to AITC this year due to an extended show and being able to view it from the comfort of one’s own home.

“The advantage of being online is this can be viewed by many people without them having to even travel to the show,” she said. “And, rather than just making one visit, you can go back as many times as you would like. Plus, the show has been extended to the end of July, which is longer than usual.”

There will also still be four Juror’s Choice Awards, three Honourable Mentions and a Community Arts’ Builder Award.

The Community Arts’ Builder Award, returning for the third year in a row, is sponsored by Sam Simone, Monica Klingenberg and Laurie Gruer of Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited

Brokerage.

There will be some changes, however. This year, AITC will not feature a Maison Depoivre Award, an opening night reception or the Canada Day Celebration.

With close to 30 submissions so far, AITC is on track to be another memorable event.

“This is quite normal,” quipped Shubert. “Most of the artists wait to submit until the last minute.”

Artists must submit their work by June 5 t, along with any nominations for the Community Arts’ Builder Award.

To learn more about Art in the County, or to submit work, please visit: https://artinthecounty.com/.