The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts (ACUA) in partnership with the Ukrainian Canadian Art Foundation (UCAF)/KUMF Gallery (Toronto) launch their first online fundraising auction with a twist, Canvas Canada – Exhibit “i”, online from October 21-31. Waddington’s is proud to sponsor this auction.
To celebrate milestone anniversaries, the 35th for ACUA and the 45th for KUMF Gallery, Canvas Canada – Exhibit “i”, will feature artworks by Ukrainian Canadian artists from across the country – ranging from paintings, drawings, photographs, ceramics, sculptures and textiles to graphic works, illustrations, and mock-ups — all exhibited anonymously. The identity of the artist will appear on the back of each piece.
To mark the occasion, we wanted to (virtually) sit down with the organizers of this event to learn more about their objectives, the artists featured and what we can expect from this auction.
For those unfamiliar, can you tell us a bit more about the ACUA and UCAF/KUMF™ Gallery?
ACUA and UCAF/ KUMF™ Gallery are major Canadian hubs for Ukrainian visual arts and culture, boasting a combined 80 years’ experience featuring emerging and established artists, highlighting shared experiences, bridging cultures, and enhancing our understanding of the world through art.
Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts (ACUA) was established in 1986 as a non-profit Ukrainian arts organization with a mandate to facilitate and encourage a greater appreciation and awareness of the Ukrainian arts and their cultural significance to the greater Alberta community. ACUA promotes growth and provides professional support, educational and business opportunities, publicity and promotion to Ukrainian arts and artists living in Alberta through exhibitions, tours, festivals, educational programs, workshops, and special projects. In addition to the ACUA Gallery & Artisan boutique which sells art and artisan crafts, ACUA hosts numerous special promotional events including the Ukrainian Vintage Sale, Home is Where the Art Is fundraiser, and Annual Christmas and Easter Art Markets. ACUA also provides multipurpose space for artists and organizations to host meetings, workshops, exhibits, lectures, and events in Edmonton.
The Ukrainian Canadian Art Foundation (UCAF) KUMF™ Gallery is a registered, not for profit charitable organization and the cornerstone of Toronto’s and Ontario’s vibrant Ukrainian Canadian visual arts community for more than 45 years. As home of the Ukrainian Association of Visual Artists of Canada (USOM), UCAF is dedicated to serving the Ukrainian-Canadian community, as well as the community at large by exhibiting and fostering an understanding of art, preserving, and collecting quality art works. Currently, UCAF’s Permanent Collection holds more than 900 artworks in a variety of media: water, oil, and acrylic paintings, charcoal and graphite sketches, and sculptures. In addition, KUMF™ Gallery creates opportunities to buy and collect many of the artworks it exhibits. Through KUMF™ Gallery, UCAF strives to deepen relationships with members and visitors of all ages through exhibitions, lectures and studio lessons, film and music programs, and publications.
Can you tell us more about this auction and what makes it so special?
This is the first time ACUA and UCAF/ KUMF™ Gallery are collaborating and we’re very excited to introduce this new cross-country event, Canvas Canada “Exhibit “i”.
This past year and a half have been challenging for artists and galleries, Exhibit ”i” is a great way to revive and pique viewers’ interest and showcase all our artists, new and emerging in line with established artists. Waddington’s digital platform and special support is an opportunity to reach a broad national audience, even an international audience.
Funds raised have been earmarked for capacity building – new programming to support, market and promote our artists. Specifically, ACUA plans to hire a marketing specialist, ideally a post-graduate student, and UCAF will continue with Phase 2 of digitizing UCAF’s Permanent Collection. We’re looking forward to sharing our upcoming plans with artists, members, and viewers.
How did you come up with such a great idea?
At an ACUA board meeting, just prior to the pandemic closures, the idea of holding an online auction with live viewing was brought to our attention – an innovative way for us to widely promote our artists. The pandemic restrictions shaped our decision to move forward with an online auction and brought about ‘an added twist.’ Why not make the auction anonymous? The participating artist names could be listed on the auction site, and while the canvases signed on the back, the identity of the artist is only revealed to the purchaser of the piece.
How did you find the artists?
Both ACUA and KUMF™ Gallery have significant rosters of artists who exhibit and sell their art at our galleries on a regular basis, and membership databases full of visual artists. Also, KUMF™ Gallery is home base for the Ukrainian Association of Visual Artists of Canada (USOM). We invited all our artists to participate in this exciting venture and put out calls on social media to attract new artists. We are very pleased that so many artists are participating.
We love the idea of anonymity—what fun! Was it hard to convince artists to play along?
The artists realize that this element of surprise was an exciting aspect to the auction and were eager to participate. “Will my followers still recognize my work?” Some of the participating artists purposely deviated from their usual media and created experimental pieces.
Another interesting part of this auction is that all of the pieces are the same size and are specifically made for this fundraiser. We’re picturing how great a grouping of these would look on the wall. Was there an overarching theme or style that emerged?
There is a history of successful art fundraisers which had adopted same size canvases; we chose 10×10 canvases and added another twist – a theme for the artists’ interpretation, Exhibit “i” – the shortest, oldest, and most commonly used word in the English language “I” or the Ukrainian letter “i” which means “and” or “also.”
It was a delight to see the work of artists who do not usually work on canvas adapt their craft to canvas as, for example, the artists who write “pysanky” (decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs) so cleverly demonstrate their art on canvas.
Tell us a little more about the artists who will be participating. Are they all established artists? Will we be seeing some fresh faces?
We are so pleased that there is a mix of artists and a variety of media. The auction will include nationally recognized, established, and emerging artists, as well as fresh new faces who answered our call to participate in this new event. We’re very grateful to all the participating artists, and for their special pieces and support of this new event. View the list of artists.
The underlying theme of the auction is about surprises, and the wonderful serendipity that comes from taking a risk. What has surprised you and your team in organizing this auction—an ACUA and KUMF Gallery first!
Yes, absolutely. The artists were very secretive and did not divulge anything about their creations in advance. On the submission/delivery date, they were very proud to unveil their creations to each other and discuss their processes. They were very pleased to create and offer the viewer a surprise.
Also, the numbers have far exceeded our initial expectations. We have 86 participating artists and a total of 156 canvases; many artists submitted two pieces.
Organizing an event for the first time presents so many unknowns. It is gratifying and encouraging to see such an enthusiastic response and support from the participating artists.
ACUA and KUMF™ Gallery are so vibrant and involved in the arts. After the auction is over, how can audiences stay connected and continue to support these talented artists?
We always encourage visitors to become members. ACUA members automatically receive its semi-annual publication, ACUA Vitae and are added to its eNewsletter.
For art lovers, ACUA hosts a monthly “Signature Artist Series” for those who are interested in creating art, and a number of workshops each year that promote Ukrainian artists, art forms, and culture. Additionally, ACUA hosts special events and projects that promote Ukrainian artists from all genres including writers, musicians, culinary artists, and dancers.
ACUA manages ACUA Gallery & Artisan Boutique, a visual and folk-art gallery with pieces available for purchase or through our on-line store. Connect with ACUA – www.acuarts.ca – follow ACUA on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ACUArts), Instagram (www.instagram.com/acuarts), Twitter (https://twitter.com/AcuaArts), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.ca/ACUArts).
Currently, to comply with the attendance restrictions, UCAF through KUMF™ Gallery offers members and visitors of all ages access to online events – Virtual Exhibitions as well as Art Talks, introductions to art concepts and cultural/world issues by encouraging and promoting dialogue, aiming to provide visitors with the tools for an active and sustained engagement with art.
Multimedia and immersive art productions are an essential part of UCAF/ KUMF™ Gallery programming, complementing visual exhibitions and offering a special insight into the diversity and vitality of Ukrainian culture. Connect with KUMF™ Gallery online at https://kumfgallery.com or on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ukrainiancanadianartgallery
About the auction:
The auction will be available for bidding online from October 21 – 31, beginning to close at 8 pm ET.
*Please note that all odd numbered lots are located in Edmonton; all even numbered lots are located in Toronto. Payment, pick up and shipping will be arranged by the ACUA and UCAF/KUMF Gallery
We invite you to browse the full gallery on our website.
Please note: this auction is offered under the Terms & Conditions specific to this auction.