By: Sonya Poweska
I don’t know exactly when it happened, I had been conscious of it for so many years, then, one day, I realized that I was doing it without thinking, it had just become a part of my daily routine, who I was, and what I am.
For those of you have met me, I am passionate about many things. At the top of that list is the daily act of living artfully.
When I graduated university I promised myself two things: I would pay off all my student loans as soon as was humanly possible and I would set aside a small portion of every paycheque I received to buy art. At the time, I didn’t really have any set parameters on what I would buy or how I would spend the money that I had saved. In fact, my first hundred dollars, which was collected after several months of savings, was used to buy a pass to attend Ottawa’s acclaimed International Animation Festival. In that moment, that was the art I needed to consume. Not only did I soak it all in, but I volunteered to be a part of one of the filmmaker’s forums just so I could gain entry and meet with all of the interesting people who had devoted their life to the ever-changing medium of animation.
The first piece of wall art that I purchased with my hard earned, post-university savings was a $60 oil on canvas of a marionette by a woman who made her living as a make-up artist. I bought the piece from the artist, who didn’t sign the work so I can’t even credit her here, at the Great Glebe Garage sale in Ottawa. It was the first piece of work she ever sold and it continues to be one of my cherished possessions. The simplicity, beauty, and memory that it evokes far exceeds its perceived cash value.
Working as both an artist and arts administrator means that even though I save, I never save much. With this in mind, I am pretty careful about making sure that the work that I add to my collection suits my needs, tastes, and goals of living artfully. To me, living artfully and supporting the work of local artists is one in the same—the more I support a local artist, the more they can go on to produce more work that will filter its way into the community.
One of my favorite ways to live artfully is wearable and functional art. As I write this, my lunch is packed in a tote with a Gillian Wilson print on the front, my keys are on a key ring with sewn and handmade piece by Francis Hahn of Hue Fielding and Necessary Arts, and I am drinking from a mug that is made by a close friend who happens to be a potter.
Each and every day you can see me wearing the work of several local artists and artisans. The work of Michelle Miller, Amy Smania of Sweetie Box Studios, Iris Dorton of Blue Iris Studio, and Melissa Gobeil of Melissa Gobeil Design are part of a small rotation of very special and meaningful jewelry that I wear daily. Come winter, I add to my wearable art collection with hand-crafted scarves and my favorite mittens made by Catherine of Stone Cottage Industry and Creative Spark Studio.
When it comes to living artfully, we can all set our limits and define the role that we want art to play in our life. Because living artfully and supporting local artists has been important to me, I have made it a priority. Despite your motivation for engaging with art and local artists, I can tell you from personal experience that investing in a local musician, media artist, visual artist, author, artisan, festival, collective, choir, or arts-related business will return dividends beyond that single transaction. This season, I will continue to support my local community of artists, artisans, makers, and small businesses. I hope you too will help support our great local creative community. If you’ve picked up something great or want to share the work of a local artist, please help us build support for our artists by telling us about it on our social media channels: Twitter: @guelpharts, and on Facebook: Guelph Arts Council.