The Art Room

Computer problems. Need I say more? Finally back on track.

After  learning about the Coast Mental Health Association’s art workshop in Vancouver, I wandered into the space – called the Art Room – to see what it was all about. There were about 6 men in the room, sitting around a large table. Several were painting, one was socializing, and one was flipping through magazines to get some ideas for a new painting. I was greeted warmly and invited to join the group. Professional artist, Jeanne Krabbendam, volunteers at the Art Room. She was available to answer questions, like how to paint shadows on a geometric design, but does not “teach” the group or guide their work. She had some curious onlookers when she picked up her own paintbrush and doodled a design on an old canvas. The atmosphere was pleasant and fun, and I got the impression that the group enjoyed being together as much as they enjoyed doing artwork.

I chatted with one regular artist, who dropped by for a visit. The others were quick to advise me that he was a talented  sculptor and carver. They kept saying, “You gotta see his stuff!” When I asked if this were so, he modestly agreed that he enjoyed doing his artwork and said that he had hundreds of pieces at his home. I asked if he had any pieces at the workshop. “No.” I asked if I might be able to see some of his work. “No,” but with a smile. I have had that reaction so many times that I wasn’t offended. So many “outsiders” are protective of their privacy and keep their creative endeavours behind locked doors. Maybe one day I’ll get to see one of his pieces. Or maybe not.

One artist, Leef Evans, was gathering some of his own work to take to an exhibit (photo above). I had seen one of his pieces before but was not aware that he was so prolific or so gifted.  Before taking up painting, Leef led a fragmented and chaotic life on the streets. His life was consumed by depression, which landed him in the hospital for long periods of time. He says that if he did not find the Art Room and this community of artists, he cannot imagine where he would be now. To meet Leef at this juncture in his life, it is hard to imagine what he describes of his past. He is open, kind, funny and dedicated to his art. Leef has a loyal and supportive group of collectors and has made quite a name for himself in the Vancouver art world. It is well deserved.