Celebrating 20 Years of Enabling Manitoba’s Best Artists
by Faye Hall
Call it the Manitoba art version of “America’s Got Talent”! All participants are juried in by the board to annually bring you the largest professional exhibition show and sale for three days at Assiniboia Downs. This 20 year legacy will be celebrated Oct. 23-25th.
Visitors can meet and talk to up to 40 participating artists at their individual professional booths showing and selling their art, prints, cards and books. Sip some wine and enjoy sweets as you peruse the displays, and watch some of the artists give demonstrations.
Art Expo helps introduce talented new artists – for example, Lisa Delorme Meiler, a Metis abstract artist whose beautiful portrayals of nature has caught the attention of many visitors. Her submission to this year’s themed Showcase Gallery is called “Lost in the Fire”, an abstract of an old hotel fireplace, overgrown and nestled in the woods near Manigotagan. Those new artists go on to become well known, for example Joseph Koensgen, Wendy Kroeker and Julie Harris.
Originally a vision of a local businessman and art gallery owner, the Assiniboia Group of Artists Cooperative was formed in 1996, and the very first Manitoba Art Expo event began at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Mr. Prime had the vision to establish a venue for serious artists in Manitoba who were not officially known, and had a concern that quality artists work was not given the recognition it deserved.
In 1998, Art Expo moved to Assiniboia Downs and has been there ever since. Over 170 of Manitoba’s best artists have participated and been recognized as a result of his original vision.
Many talented individuals have stepped forward as directors to provide the necessary guidance. It’s impossible to name them all but we can focus on the present administration led by vice president Anthony Steffes, a noted artist and teacher. His popular abstract art sells very well, and he keeps busy with art classes in addition to his extraordinary pieces. It was hardly surprising that his booth won the People’s Choice Award for 2014.
Hubert Theroux is president of the board who also organizes the complicated logistics for the artists’ booths and leads the set up. Theroux recently celebrated being a rare artist who has made his living at art for 25 years. His realistic style in landscape art has remained a popular asset to the annual show.
In recent years, Art Expo has maintained stability and has even gone through re-branding, a new website and updates in social media to keep things current and viable.
The focal point of each show has always been the Showcase Gallery, with each participating artist submitting one piece of work and the public voting on the People’s Choice Award. The Gallery has recently undergone it’s own changes, becoming themed for the first time in 2014 in honour of the opening of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. In 2015, the theme is called “Illumination” inspired by the International Year of Light.
Along with the original vision, the Cooperative recognized their responsibility to support their community, accepting the challenge to raise funds for worthy, designated charities. Over the years, Art Expo has worked directly with various charities including Pennies from Heaven (Winnipeg Free Press), Winnipeg Harvest, The Christmas Cheer Board, CancerCare and The Winnipeg Humane Society. Over the years this has resulted in excess of $50,000 in charitable donations.
Mark Oct. 23-25 on your calendar to attend our 20th Anniversary Celebrations at Assiniboia Downs. Meet your favourite artists in person, watch demos, drink wine and enjoy some music and sweets! Don’t forget to vote for your favourite art in the Showcase Gallery where you’ll be entered in some free draws as well.
There will be a special insert in the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturday, Oct. 17th with photos and more information! You can also check out the Fall Arts Guide for more info and coupons for Art Expo.
More info at www.manitobaartexpo.ca
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