The Mural Project: Art in Hard Times

By The Mural Project Team

Art Not Shame is a Guelph based charitable organization that provides creative workshops with a view to talking about and reducing shame.

Our team was together the day the lockdown was announced; sitting around our communal lunch table (imagine?!), we were getting ready to launch one of our main program offerings, “F*ck Perfect,” as news of Covid-19 updated by the minute. We felt lost and deflated. We left that day with a vague and sinking feeling that we might not see each other for some time.

A couple months into lockdown, we were searching for ways to build community and speak to what was happening as we witnessed intersecting crises come to the fore, including increased isolation as a result of Covid-19, overdose numbers rising in our local community, and calls to rise up against white supremacy and anti-Black racism both here and around the world.

The Mural Project, the brainchild of social artist Melanie Schambach, emerged as one possible way to engage people across distance, and to act as a megaphone of sorts to voice issues of local and global relevance during this time. Melanie piloted her first virtual mural while stuck in Guatemala as a result of travel bans. We approached her about running one for Guelph and surrounding areas, with the intention of amplifying the voices of those who identify as Black, LGBTQ2I+, Indigenous, people of colour, newcomers, street-engaged, living with developmental exceptionalities, or struggling with mental health and addictions.

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Mural participants share their in-process work from home.

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Taking Your Art Business Online

By Barbara Salsberg Mathews

With social distancing many artists realize that now more than ever it makes sense to take their art business online. Most recently Guelph Arts Council and the Downtown Guelph Business Association hosted Guelph's very first Art on the (Virtual) Street event whereby artists pivoted their business sales to be 100% online. Artist participant Taras Lachowsky reflects on his experience as an artist vendor and noted "human to human connection is important...my advice to artists going into online sales would be to organize your artworks and have really good photographs."

How to bridge personal connections with your customers online and having great photo documentation of your artwork is just one of many things to consider when taking your art business online.To learn more about this process, I interviewed Ken Braithwaite, Web designer/founder, Ethos Design. Ken graciously shared these insights and experiences:

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Ken Braithwaite, Web designer/founder, Ethos Design. Image provided by Ken Braithwaite.

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SongLine - Call for aspiring songwriters and composers

You’re an aspiring songwriter or composer, and you’ve been stuck on the first verse for a week.Or you’re staring at a blank page in your notebook and you’re playing the same two chords over and over and over. It doesn’t look good. But who are you going to call? Call SongLine.

SongLine is a new online resource created by songwriter, producer and music educator Aimee Copping.

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Aimee Copping leading an eight-piece synth band as part of the Blackball electronic music project. Photo credit Amber Homeniuk.

She conceived SongLine as an online discussion circle for the COVID-19 era. “I think of it as group therapy,” Aimee says. “It’s a support network for songwriters and aspiring songwriters.”

For an hour or two each week, SongLine participants will share songs, song ideas and thoughts about composition.

Aimee Copping plans to start leading free weekly online sessions as early as mid-July. To join in, all you need is a personal device, access to quiet room with a stable internet signal, and the desire to learn more about the craft of songwriting and musical storytelling. Any community member 18 and over is welcome, and there is no fee for participants.

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Aimee Copping leading a workshop at Cambridge's Old Post Office | Idea Exchange. Photo credit, Amber Homeniuk.

 

Aimee Copping is the founder and executive director of Blackball, which provides hands-on electronic music instruction to young people and marginalized community members. Aimee has also worked as a mentor-producer with Pros and Cons, a restorative justice initiative that teaches songwriting to federal penitentiary inmates.

Both of these projects are on lockdown due to COVID-19, so Aimee created SongLine as a safe, virtual space for people to share their musical ideas in a safe, constructive, positive environment.

“There’s no ‘amateur’ or ‘professional’ in the SongLine universe,” Aimee says. “Anyone and everyone who wants to share musical ideas can be a part of the conversation.”

And the virtual “Zoom call” format makes it possible to meet safely in accordance with social distancing rules.

There are even post-pandemic plans to provide instruments to SongLine participants who need them. Aimee is in discussion with local organizations Girls’ Rock Camp and Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition to create a dedicated musical instrument lending library when social distancing guidelines are lifted.

If you, or anyone you know, has a song, a work in progress, or even just dreams of creating one, please feel free to spread the word about this new program.

Aimee Copping can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Welcome to Our New GAC Team Member!

Guelph Arts Council is excited to welcome our new Communications and Events Assistant for summer/fall 2020, Ahmri Vandeborne. Ahmri has been helping to promote local cultural events, artist opportunties and GAC artist members through social media and e-news articles. 

As a visual artist and musician, as well as a lover of all things arts-related, Ahmri is eager to work on some big and exciting projects with Guelph Arts Council including Digital Doors Open and the Guelph Emerging Artist Mentorship Program, among others. She’s looking forward to working with the community in diverse and unique ways, and contributing to pre-existing projects and events in new ways that adapt to the current global circumstances that have encouraged us all to “go-digital”. 

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Ahmri Vandeborne, Guelph Arts Councils new Communications and Events Assistant for summer/fall 2020

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