The Regina Art Collective’s exhibit Change is Good

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Hard work and attention to detail shine through the RAC’s latest exhibit. Unsplash

Local artists use “whatever works” to convey meaning to the community

With the completion of Change is Good on October 30, the Regina Art Collective (RAC) will be celebrating another successful art exhibit.

COVID-19 presented a volley of challenges, but the RAC was able to change their approach through their collective creativity. According to Jeffrey Taylor, a founding member of the group, it is common for the opening night to see the highest levels of attendance. Taylor says, “This year instead of an opening reception we had our artists demonstrating in the gallery over two days. This change was well received and attendance was steady throughout the two days.” 

Overall, attendance remained lower than usual, as member Nikki Jacquin says, “Attendance … was down not surprisingly considering the events of 2020.” Additionally,  Dave Gejdos, another of the artists, affirms, “It’s been quiet and slow.”

Regardless of the turnout, Jacquin says, “I’ve heard several members of the group express great satisfaction in this show being one of our strongest yet. All pieces are of the highest quality each artist has produced to date. It is work that is new and challenged us.” Perhaps this is where the exhibit’s greatest measure of success comes from – the achievement of the art itself and the artists’ recognition of their successes individually and as a group.

While the overall title was chosen by the collective, it emphasizes that the process of change is good and for many of the artists the title holds a deeper and more specific meaning.

“I feel the title represents our desire to see something positive come out of our current situation. Generally we had the desire for the show to represent new creative directions we each were pursuing during the COVID lockdown,” says Taylor, “My work found me contemplating commissions I had recently received for cremation urns. ‘Change is good’ is not something typically thought of when imagining vessels used in the memorializing of passed loved ones, but as a Christian, I often think of death as a beginning rather than a sorrowful end.”

For Jacquin, she explains it in two ways. Firstly, she says, “I think the feeling was that we had gone through a strange new time of isolation.” On a more personal level, she then says, “like myself, the change evolved over several years and was not specifically a reaction to COVID.”

While the group has a shared understanding of the meaning behind their chosen title, Change is Good, what is interesting is that each artist additionally holds their own personal interpretation of what this means to them. When asked, Gejdos responded, “The magnificence of creation” and “it’s uniqueness” are central, along with the idea that, “Nature works perfectly without opinion or self.”

The complete list of artists includes: Taylor, Jacquin, Gejdos, along with DeLee Grant, Madhu Kumar, H.J. Linnen, Shelley McGillivray, Derek Olson, Mark Sexton, and Les Sneesby. These creators use a wide range of media, some such as clay, discarded trash, oil on canvas, bronze, and according to Gejdos, basically, “whatever works.”

This had led to the creation of some very unique pieces that showcase the artists’ hard work and acute attention to detail.

The RAC has a competitive and limited membership policy and while all are artists, each member holds additional responsibilities beyond the art process itself. According to Jacquin, “The current mix of artists seems to be very cohesive and works well together.”

In regard to the “online component” of their exhibit, Jacquin elaborated: “This current exhibit had an online component because it was also a part of the Art Now event sponsored by the Saskatchewan Galleries Association. Art Now is held on rotation between Saskatoon and Regina, yearly. Due to Covid all participating commercial galleries hosted their in-person shows and opening, while Art Now held an online opening night of all participating galleries, artists’ talks and even a children’s gallery. Regina Art Collective members Jeffrey Taylor and DeLee Grant both were involved this year in the artists’ talks. The Art Now web site had a online space for each gallery that viewers could click through while listening to Saskatchewan musicians. Buyers could view artworks and even chat with gallery staff live! The website listed in-person activities and art talks were being featured. Recordings were posted for reviewing: https://www.artnow.ca/.”

One interesting story mentioned by Jacquin is that during the exhibition, “we talked with a mother who was in the building for training” and “she said talking to us helped her as a mother understand her artistically talented daughter. She now realizes that it was normal for her daughter to view kitchen appliances and utensils as potential art making tools.” It is great how art can bring people together and how people can learn a new perspective with every new encounter. 

While the exhibit is over on October 30, Taylor said that the RAC’s “annual Art That Fits show goes up the same day with the opening night November 5 at 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. at 1077 Angus Street.” You can also visit the Regina Art Collective’s website to see their standard gallery hours.

This could be a great opportunity to get out and see some art and to embrace the experience of the environment – perhaps you might even learn something new.

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