Drafted by: Shannon Little
One of my greatest passions is connecting people to others. Whether it is to further their careers, help with networking to promote themselves, a business, or just make new acquaintances and relationships. Generally, I write interview articles focusing on the life of one individual, and the promotion of their career, accomplishments and goals.However, with this piece I thought I would throw a LITTLE bit of everything into the mix. As a lover of the arts, and a friend and acquaintance to many involved in the amazing event known as ART! Vancouver, I am promoting local and international talent by including quotes from interviews and photos.
ART! Vancouver was host to a world-class art event, from May 21st to May 24th 2015, which featured galleries, and promoted emerging and established artists from across North America, as well as from around the world. Vancouver’s beautiful Convention Centre East Building’s waterfront venue provided the perfect setting for artists, collectors and art enthusiasts to come and enjoy a vast array of incredible artwork.
As Lisa Wolfin, Founder and Director, of ART! Vancouver, stated “Timing is everything…and Art! Vancouver is passionate about advancing Vancouver’s reputation as a cultural and artistic destination. We are living our dream to bring the rich world of the arts to art lovers, collectors, curators and designers here in this city. We have created a milieu for artists and galleries to connect with both buyers and enthusiasts alike.” I was thrilled when my dear friend RJ Haber asked me to attend this event. RJ’s connection to ART! Vancouver is quite special, and goes beyond his love and appreciation of art. As RJ and Lisa knew each other in high school, and through a recent reconnection with a group of friends, it resulted in a wonderful event turning into an even greater networking affair.
Lisa’s aspirations were to make ART! Vancouver like the Art Basel events that occur around the world, where world famous artists and gallerists have the opportunity to showcase their art, followed by incredible after-parties to entertain the artists and their guests. RJ had just returned from Miami after attending the Art Basel event, which had featured the World Renowned photographer and artist, Raphael Mazzucco.
Also in attendance were our dear friends Vernard Goud, of Luvngrace Entertainment Events : Beauty, Art, Music & Fashion, and Jim Michaels, Executive Producer for Supernatural. The vision Lisa had for ART! Vancouver was finally coming to fruition, as RJ connected her with Vernard, who is a master Event Planner, and he coordinated three after-parties for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. LuvnGrace-XOXO hosted the first two after parties at the Xi-Shi Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel, and LuvnGrace hosted the third LUVAFAIR themed after party at the Astoria Hotel.
Art Basel, began in 1970, and is now recognized as the premier International Art Show bringing the Art World together for three annual shows. The venues are “Basel, in the heart of Europe; Miami Beach at the nexus of North and South America; and Hong Kong, the Gateway to Asia.” ~ artbasel.com website. RJ, like Lisa, aspires to see ART! Vancouver eventually become the Art Basel of Canada. ART! Vancouver May 26-29, 2016 is already showing some exciting potential of heading in that direction. Vernard Goud’s company LuvnGrace is hoping to have Raphael Mazzucco, Canada’s most successful and celebrated Fashion Photographer of all time and Commercial Artist, appearing in Vancouver for an Exclusive Photo/Art Exhibit for 4 days and an Invite Only VIP Reception as well. With LuvnGrace confirming that Chloe Trujillo ~ Artist-Designer-Dancer-Visionary (wife of Metallica Bassist Robert Trujillo), and Fine Artist Isolda Mora Noli (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), who will both do a 4 day Exhibit, and a special VIP Reception for ART! Vancouver 2016, in venues that have yet to be determined.
Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to attend an Art Basel event therefore, I am unable to make a comparison, and I am only able to provide my perspective on this event. I felt the Opening Gala was enjoyable and provided a unique Catwalk Art Show, which was very entertaining for the guests as they sipped on wine and beer sponsored by Spierhead Winery and Red Truck Beer. With the artist walking down the Catwalk showcasing their work, it allowed for the audience to learn more about the artist while looking at their work, as the MC gave a LITTLE history of each artist. I was also impressed with the incredible talent that was being exhibited by such young women and men. The multi-talented artist Taisha Teal, who is 22 years old, experimented with a vast array of materials in her family’s art studio in her childhood. While studying at SFU she continues to work on paintings representing Hollywood Stars. Her ‘Marilyn Monroe’ painting graces the cover page of the ART! Vancouver magazine.
Her 18 year old sister, Skyla Wayrynen, who is currently studying at Queen’s University has also inherited the family love of art and her most recent series of paintings representing wild animal portraits achieve their unique texture through the use of a palette knife instead of a brush. When I spoke to Skyla about her paintings and talent she was humble and appeared wise beyond her years. Skyla’s paintings were the first to catch my eyes the moment we entered the venue. She has the ability to make the eyes in her animal paintings captivate you.
Skyler Grey, the 15 year old, POP ARTIST from Los Angeles, California asked if he could MC for himself while he showcased his art on the Catwalk.
This young man, captivated the whole audience, not only with his artwork, but with his charisma, personality and sweet disposition. And it didn’t hurt that his first words were how much he LOVED VANCOUVER and the people of our beautiful city! He was so comfortable on stage, a true performer/artist…when he left the Catwalk he waved to the audience and I found myself waving back.
There were other artists who walked the Catwalk that caught my attention. One artist showcased her work to the Mission Impossible theme with two men coming out carrying saxophones and wearing masks that were represented in her piece. Another artist had flowers thrown to the audience while she pulled her pieces around in a LITTLE wagon. And then there was an Australian Fisherman who literally dressed exactly like the man in his painting. I do believe that he was representing himself. After the Catwalk Art Show my friends who I attended ART! Vancouver with, Realtor Colette Valdock, RJ Haber, Vernard Goud and Paul Fitzgerald of See It Live Canada Photography, ran into some other mutual friends and art enthusiasts.
Vladimir Kostka, a local photographer, had been thinking of showcasing his work at ART! Vancouver and was very interested in checking out the scene and the other local and international talent. Miriam Aroeste, is a world renowned painter and photographer and she came out to support her friends who were showcasing their work at the event. And Erich Saide, a highly respected local photographer was also there to network and admire the art, as he is now looking to expand his career to new heights in the art world.
As we walked around the venue admiring the artwork, discussing amongst ourselves the pieces that we loved, the ones that moved us, the ones that did not, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that The Jerry Garcia Foundation had donated paintings to ART! Vancouver. The proceeds from the paintings that were sold were contributed to Sarah McLachlan’s School of Music and the Outreach Alley Charity. We came across a Jerry Garcia painting called ‘Wired Crossroads’. This Watercolour, Pen, & Ink archival print created in 1988 sold for $1000, with the proceeds benefitting Outreach Alley.
There were many talented artists showcasing their work throughout the Convention Centre however, one artists’ work particularly caught my eye and that was Bjorn Ollner. He is a Conceptual Designer/Architect/SAR/MSA and has used his architectural abilities for many years in the movies and TV industry. However, more recently he has been focusing on his Concrete and Abstract Art. Bjorn enjoyed the ART! Vancouver event and was both pleased and encouraged by the compliments he received on his work.
As I made my way through the crowds of people admiring all of the various pieces of art and photographs, I finally came across the young man I wanted to interview. The LITTLE dynamo, who had sparked my interest through his amazing artistic talent, and for his personality and character that shone the moment he had stepped onto the Catwalk. He happened to be talking to RJ and having photographs taken by Paul Fitzgerald so my timing could not have been more perfect.
Skyler Grey is no ordinary 15 year old. From the moment we started the impromptu interview he knew exactly what he wanted to say and how to promote his work and himself. After the initial formalities were finished, such as clarifying that he was a POP Artist from Los Angeles, had been painting since he was about 10 years old, had come to ART! Vancouver because he wanted to be a part of this art event, and that he had never been to Vancouver, he immediately began to describe one of his amazing paintings to me.
He believes that women don’t get enough credit, and in his piece called “HERRARI” which is a take off on the word “FERRARI” the painting shows Mickey Mouse looking up at Minnie Mouse who is riding the “Ferrari” horse symbol. According to Skyler, Minnie Mouse is out having a joyride with her man (aka Mickey Mouse). When I asked him what inspires him, he didn’t hesitate before answering with…the world and architecture. He then said that his “second plan is architecture if he doesn’t make it in art, but everything seems to be going good.” ~ Skyler Grey Basquiat, Warhol, and Kehinde Wiley are some of Skyler’s favourite artists whom he admires and draws inspiration from.
This passionate young man was so funny he had me laughing throughout our brief interview, and when I made a comment about his sense of humour he said, “that people tell him if he doesn’t make it in art he should be a comedian.” ~ Skyler Grey. With his quick wit he then smiled and said, “architecture will probably have to be the third option.” ~ Skyler Grey. It is definitely always good to have one or two back-up plans, however, he is marketing his product extremely well. Some of the pieces that he was showcasing in Vancouver, were priced at $17,000, and the Skyler Grey X Chris Brown Diptych was priced as a set for $80,000.
What I found most inspiring about this talented artist was the fact that at such a young age he had so much drive and determination to overcome any challenges and obstacles that were put in front of him, and he chose to follow and pursue his dreams.Although he is still a teenager, he truly believes that you can “put your dreams to reality, I believe that can happen to anybody. You just have to have the hustle and the grind that I did when I was younger, and what I have now took a lot of hustle and a lot of grind to get to where I am.” ~ Skyler Grey. He committed himself at a very young age to his passion, and with the help, love and support of his dad, who he gives credit and a great deal of respect to, he acknowledges that “we have been through a lot, we have been through the trenches of hell just to get to where we are now, and I’m glad that I won’t say I’ve made it but, I’m glad that I can say that I’ve accomplished something, I’ve made my mark in Pop Culture.” ~ Skyler Grey.
Whatever the future holds for this bright talent…the SKY is definitely not going to be the limit. SKYLER GREY will be amongst the STARS! ART! Vancouver was the beginning of something fresh, new and exciting for our beautiful city that desires to offer more to the locals and its visitors from around the world. Holding events like ART! Vancouver will hopefully one day put us on a par with the world famous Art Basel affairs. When this happens Vancouver will rival some of the fashion and art cities around the world. We already have the natural beauty, now lets begin to focus on the Entertainment, Fashion and ART world!
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