Facebook helps local artists connect during pandemic

During the pandemic, when galleries and restaurants were closed, two Facebook groups helped emerging artists connect and support each other in Ottawa.

Algonquin artist Peter Purdy founded Art Source Ottawa page seven years ago to encourage and support young emerging artists in the region.

“I thought that originally there would only be a few acquaintances that I knew in his community,” said Purdy, whose group now numbers more than 1,100 artists.

“It grew like wildfire.”

As president of the Ottawa chapter of Art Battle and curator of amateur art exhibitions at the downtown Atomic Rooster restaurant, Purdy has a proven track record in supporting other artists.

This untitled work by abstract artist Catherine Gutsche was posted on her Facebook group. (Catherine Gutshe)

He said his Facebook group quickly turned into a forum where artists can post images of their work, as well as share tips and tricks on artistic creation techniques, and encourage each other.

“I realized that there were very few places to share our information about the smaller salons in the Capital Region, be it restaurants, cafes and small galleries,” Purdy said.

He has also published notices on funding opportunities and articles on how to apply and navigate government websites.

“When I first started in the arts, all of this information was kept close at hand by professional artists in town,” Purdy said. “We tried to break down the barriers.”

“So positive and hopeful”

Artist Catherine Gutsche says her Facebook group, Ottawa Artists, has grown to nearly 5,000 active members with up to 20 posts per day.

With the galleries closed, Gutsche says the artists have been shared more and brought together online during virtual openings.

An Nguyen says she met “really cool artists” through Facebook artist groups. (Submitted by An Nguyen)

“It’s so positive and hopeful,” said artist An Nguyen. “Exactly what we need during the pandemic. “

Nguyen says she likes the way artist forums exchange ideas and information

Before the pandemic, Nguyen said Art Source Ottawa helped attract other artists and the public to his art exhibitions, but recently this has boosted online sales of his colorful geometric paintings.

“If you look at a lot of galleries, a lot of them have artwork from white men,” Nguyen said.

“I’m a racialized artist… it’s really important for me to have my art there to be [a] voices for other artists in my community. ”

Purdy said that while artists wait for galleries and art festivals to return, he hopes Facebook groups encourage their creative output.

“If you are at home, maybe now is the time to experience a new body of work. Maybe it could be a blessing in disguise.”

Artist Kina Forney says Facebook groups create a community with a common goal. (Submitted by Kina Forney)


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