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  • INK by Shawn Zheng

    Location: Saskatoon, SK

    Shu Cheng (Shawn) Zheng features his distinctive style of making marks in Chinese..
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  • North Shore Art Crawl

    Location: North Shore, BC

    The North Shore Art Crawl is a free community arts event March 7+8,..
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  • Art exhibit at local funeral home is proof art isn’t dead!

    Location: Alexandria, ON

    • Friday, 21 Feb 6--9: Wine & cheese, entertainment by recording artist Katie..
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  • New Craft Coalition: Call to Artists

    Location: Calgary, AB

    New Craft Coalition invites applications from all mid-career and professional artists to be..
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  • TRAVEL EXHIBITION

    Location: Toronto, ON

    John Mantha will be participating in a group show at Twist Gallery in..
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  • David Tycho: Urbania

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    Guest artist David Tycho will exhibit 10 paintings from his latest series. This series..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

    Location: Brussels,

    ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) is back on October 15-18, 2020 for its 14th..
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  • Clarkson Society of Artists 2020 Show & Sale

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    The Clarkson Society of Artists invites you to attend their annual show &..
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  • Call for Artists: Urban Matrix

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    North Van Arts is inviting artists to take part in an upcoming group..
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  • 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art is now accepting entries for the 9th Artist Spotlight Solo Art..
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  • Call for Art - 11th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Colors Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Colors online art competition. For this..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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  • Jane Selbie and Joseph Farrugia

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • Dianne Davis and the WAP Collective

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. February..
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  • “Grey” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline February 28, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Grey surrounds us, sometimes in surprising ways. In beach pebbles, a..
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  • on thin ice Polar Bear Art Exhibit

    Location: Toronto, ON

    On thin ice is a solo exhibit of polar bear portrait paintings by..
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  • Support the Worldwide Art Community | Participate in 6x6x2020

    Location: Rochester, ON

    Hello Artists in Canada, We want YOU to participate in 6x6x2020! Let your creative..
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  • Olivier Du Tre: New Works

    Location: CALGARY, AB

    January 7 to February 29, 2020 At HUB@302 302-1235 26 Ave SE, Calgary, AB..
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  • WAAH 124th Juried Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Hamilton

    Location: Hamilton, ON

    Who:  The Women’s Art Association of Hamilton (WAAH) at the Art Gallery of..
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  • The Indian Contemporary Art Competition

    Location: New York, NY, ON

    The Indian Contemporary Art Competition (ICAC) aims to discover and promote talented artists..
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  • The Loft On King Street

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Loft On King Street is one of the most unique private event..
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  • Overzealous Fine Art Exhibition 2020 Call for Entry

    Location: Toronto (GTA), ON

    Submission Deadline: Sunday, March 1st, 2020 -- Exhibition Dates: March 30 – April 18,..
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  • VOYZX Exhibition of Contemporary Surrealism

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    VOYZX Exhibition of Contemporary Surrealism 2020 is an annual international art exhibition, dedicated..
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Art Therapy

By Robert Amos March 29, 2004

} Art Therapy By Robert Amos My neighbour works at a care home, a long term care residence for seniors and others. He asked if I would consider meeting with some of the residents to do some painting. As I walked there on that first day, I really wondered what I could teach them. What were they capable of learning, and why would they want to learn? About eight people, all in wheelchairs, were waiting at a long table in the activity room when I arrived. That first day I suggested painting a planter of petunias which was visible just outside the window. I demonstrated as well as I could with what was on hand, a few chalky pots of paint and a stiff brush. And then I let them go at it. It looked as if it was going to be an uphill struggle. Simple practical issues had to be considered. It’s hard to bend over a table when sitting in a bulky motorized wheelchair. No one much liked looking into the bright daylight outside the window. Old eyes couldn’t see those distant flowers as easily as mine could. Still, everyone set to the task. In the end two or three had made pictures of the petunias - more by copying my painting than looking at the flowers themselves. Some of the painters could hardly hit the page with the brush. But the experience was positive enough to draw me back a week later. One of the women, constantly attended, had spent almost two hours, and she had made one short vertical mark on her page. Later I asked my neighbour whether it seemed worthwhile for her to be there. “A breakthrough,” he called it. “There’s a very intelligent woman in there, trapped in a cage of pain,” he informed me. Victim of a head injury, she had found this tiny opening of self-expression, an opening he hoped she would build on. “Seigfried” by E. K. Another of the regulars had a reputation as a painter, and proudly carried photos of the watercolours she had made years before. I couldn’t see the resemblance in the network of coloured hatching she cast out during our afternoons. And I wondered what use I was, since she never attempted the subjects I set for our group. But her absorption in her task was intense, and her identity as an artist was surely an anchor of confidence in a life which was changing on her every day. As months went by I began to recognize that what appeared at first to be random and disconnected lines were in fact a style - her style. One of the oldest men pointed out that he’d never painted. He sat where he was put and bent his head over his task. No well-meaning advice broke in on his labour and, in the end, a staff member asked what he had painted. “It’s a cat! And kittens!”, he snorted. And sure enough, it was. On my way out that day, that staff member couldn’t hold back her surprise. “He’s never spent 10 minutes at any activity here. He just won’t put up with it. And yet he just spent almost two hours painting.” Artists know how deeply satisfying it is to get lost in the task. Time vanishes. My neighbour went further. “Many of these people,” he told me, “have short term memory problems. The last time they painted might have been when they were in kindergarten. They can remember things that happened back then, and they still know how to do them. It makes them feel in control.” Actually, there was more control than I at first recognized. One man, about my age, had real problems - his muscles were rendered graceless and his speech was almost unintelligible. But he was patient with me, and slowly our communication became more satisfactory. I learned to put the paints more comfortably within his reach and to allow him to spend longer letting his ideas develop. The results are there for all to see - there is a good mind and heart just waiting to express itself. I tend to forget that these people are disabled. I guess they can’t walk, and may have medical problems that I know nothing about. But, by now, getting together with my group every week is more like a family gathering than almost anything else in my life. We’ve decided to frame some pictures for the halls, and with this goal in sight the paintings are becoming more considered and more finished. Inevitably, each artist is caught behind a heap of genuine humility. But the reaction of visitors is always sincere and positive - they are genuinely impressed. After all, art is more about communication than technique, and all forms of self-expression are acceptable. And any subject is welcome. I am most gratified when my band of associates reach into memory and draw forth scenes from childhood, and moments of joy from their own lives. More in the style of Grandma Moses than photo-realism, their paintings are evidence of the common humanity which we all share. Maybe those who have known a bit of suffering can feel that, and share it, most vividly. ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004 Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B. C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com