NorVA exhibition gets artists on the right Square Foot

The NorVA Centre is preparing for another edition of its biggest - and smallest - exhibition - the annual Square Foot Exhibition and auction.

Any artist can get involved with the exhibition and auction by going to NorVA, registering and picking up a canvas. This year, the event will see changes due to COVID-19, including allowing for remote pickup for canvases and artist registration. 

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“If they don’t want to go to a public space and just want to access it without visiting NorVA, we can set them up. Any artist is welcome, in any style, any skill level,” said gallery supervisor Mike Spencer.

That idea continues into the annual auction that accompanies the exhibition. One of the NorVA Centre’s biggest annual fundraisers, the auction will see some changes. While key details are yet to be ironed out, it is likely the auction will be held remotely online in some way.

“We’re looking at options for how we can make the bidding process more available online this year, but we haven’t sort of nailed anything down yet about how that’s going to work,” said Spencer.

The event gets its name from the small canvases distributed to each artist. While the show takes its name from the size of the canvases, Spencer said the pieces themselves don’t necessarily need to conform to the norm.

“If they do want a canvas, we have square foot canvasses available, but they’re not mandatory. If there’s a photographer who wants to print an image, we’re happy to have it,” Spencer said.

“Our definition of ‘square foot’ has sort of loosened over the years. We’ll kind of just take whatever people have to offer - we’re not terribly rigid about what constitutes a square foot. Myself personally, I’ll probably put in a vase. I’m not sure where that will actually sit on the table.”

The canvases can also see other experimentation. One artist used their square foot piece in 2016 to offer “one square foot of pies” - whoever won the auction for the piece won a selection of fresh, home-baked pie instead of artwork. Other times, people have grabbed more than one canvas to make combination pieces.

“If people feel really ambitious, they can sort of tile a number of canvases together to make a larger work. We’ve had that happen before. We’re pretty flexible with it,” Spencer said.

Artists have already gotten involved, creating and submitting their own pieces well ahead of deadline.

“We have pieces submitted already - about 20-25 pieces already at NorVA and we’ve sold just over 50 canvases. We’re expecting a bunch more in the crunch time leading up to setup day, but the more, the merrier. We’re happy to get people working and get new people involved,” Spencer said. 

The registration deadline passed on Sept. 15, but late registrations may still be accepted. The deadline for art drop-offs will be Sept. 20, with the grand opening of the exhibition Sept. 24. The final live auction will take place Oct. 18.


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