art is food for the soul

There’s a little guerrilla art front sweeping through Orange at the moment, timed perfectly around the fringes of the Orange FOOD Week festival in April.

Starting with the first PopArt Collective pop-up launch and gallery events last week, local exhibiting artists Eva Frengstad, Matilda Julian, Larissa Blake, Robyn Youll, Scott Gillbank, Kate Maurice and Amy Hick are now on the search for the next secret shed or vibrant venue where they can storm in and transform the joint. Their launch was party of the year in my books, so can’t wait for the next one.

This week a little standalone PopUp Art Show appeared in a former cornerstore on the corner of Autumn and Summer Streets in East Orange (is that the most poetic address for an art gallery or what?). Open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday during this year’s Orange FOOD Week, 4-13 April, this sweet little art space is showcasing works from young local emerging artists Madeline Young, Curtis Peasley, Ellie Hannon, Maggie Warrell and Amelia Herbertson. What’s even better, Bill’s Beans East Orange is up on the next corner – hooray.

One of the most established art collectives in Orange, the Colour City Creatives are also in on the act, holding open day art workshops and events at their studios in The Barracks (a disused railway building). Local renowned artist Joy Engelman has been leading the charge to support the inaugural Cancer Council Charity Art Auction at The Agrestic Grocer on Wednesday 9 April. This will feature works from the Colour City Creative collective, as well as local sculptor Senden Blackwood.

And then there’s the wonderful online gallery space Art of Orange, another organic collective of local artists selling reproduction prints of their most popular works. I’m personally a big fan of Marianne Courtenay’s impressions of Mount Canobolas, you can see the originals hanging at the Printhie Wines cellar door. I’ve also previously written about Jayes Gallery in Molong, a wonderful space and always hosting new exhibitions from local artists.

So many artists, so much time – this region is really glorious for art. Of course, this has been a bit of a tradition since the 1960s and it looks like everyone else is just starting to catch up. Me, I’m beside myself. Had been wondering how I’d deal with the wrench from the United Arab Emirates and leaving behind Abu Dhabi Art, Saadiyat Island Cultural District and the imminent opening of the spectacular Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Watching all of this Australian grassroots arts flourish in the vineyards and rolling hills of the Orange region has given me some of my mojo back, and I’ve signed up for the Orange Regional Arts Foundation and ArtsOutWest so I don’t miss a thing. Next step is an adventure out to Hill End Press to see what they’re up to with their vintage foot treadle press.

ArtsHub recently had a fantastic article on the great divide between city and regional artists, and the misperception that nothing happens of any interest in regional areas:

1 in 3 people live in regional Australia, yet most government support for the arts seemed magnetically bound to Melbourne and Sydney. No major art institutions did programs in Sandie’s town. Many of the metropolitan-focused arts organisations and artists that visited had a strange messiah complex, thinking they were bringing arts to a cultural wasteland. They were frequently disgruntled to find successful artists already resident there.

The truth is: the space, diversity, complexity, relationships to place and change all bring marvellous hues to cutting edge contemporary art in regional areas. This is most definitely the place to be to watch this all flourish.

Kelly

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