Critiquing Canadian art

If every mid-life crisis ended with the production of a mesmerizing piece of art highlighting the beauty of British Columbia’s natural landscape and receiving critical acclaim from a group of local artists, middle age wouldn’t seem so bad.

For Kathleen Poste, a registered nurse at the Grand River Hospital, it was a mid-life crisis that caused the self-taught artist to enter a piece in the Annual Juried Show at the Waterloo Community Arts Centre (WCAC).

Of the 71 entries and the 35 selected for display, Poste’s “Tree Island” claimed second place, only falling behind Erwin Rummel’s “Corn & Green Peppers.”

Having previously submitted this same piece in a show where it was greatly critiqued, Poste admitted that she was a bit nervous about making her artwork vulnerable again at the hands of jurors.

“She ripped it apart,” said Poste of her painting’s last showing. “This painting was actually criticized, so that’s what is thrilling for me,” she said in an interview with The Cord shortly following the announcement of her award on Friday evening.

Lauren Judge, the general manager of the WCAC, speaks of the importance of the arts community hosting events like this, especially because each of the shortlisted artists were invited to a juror’s forum where they were able to have their entries critiqued.

“It helps artists to grow,” said Judge.

As the juried show at the WCAC was open to everyone, not just WCAC members, Judge explained that it offered an excellent opportunity to help local artists develop, something that the centre is committed to doing.

“This is the type of place where people experiment and every type of art community needs that,” said Judge.

Speaking about the recent media attention that the local arts community has received – following a report released by the Prosperity Council of Waterloo Region, which publicly called for an increase of arts funding in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge – Judge explained that in this debate about the lack of arts funding an important element is routinely left out.

“There isn’t enough being talked about for individual artists,” said Judge. “There’ve been a lot of high level talks about what we can do for arts organizations, and granted we always need more money, but the individual artists are usually forgotten.”

This is why Judge so strongly believes in places such as the WCAC and what they do for the local arts community.

“This type of establishment can be set apart from some of the other arts organizations in the city,” said Judge. “This place is a grassroots incubator for arts. It’s a place where children and families, seniors, students, anybody from the community can come in and try something new.

“You don’t have to be an expert.”

For Poste at least, being recognized in a juried show like the one presented by the WCAC has allowed her to acknowledge her talent and keep exploring her artistic side.

“I’m going to keep going and just see what it brings,” she said.