Some of the art projects done by the Comox neighbourhood were creating garden sticks (left) and painting, like this "trees" creation on the right. Photos submitted.

Comox residents use art experience to raise funds for MARS

A Comox neighbourhood used art to support each other during the pandemic, and ultimately supported a community cause.

It all began with Margaret McKenzie, leaving a notice in the mailbox of her neighbours in Comox. She was initiating a pop-up art experience on her driveway two afternoons each week, themes and approaches to vary. Participants could attend them all or drop in according to their interests and schedules.

“A group of us checked it out and stayed,” explained Donna McKinnon. “Others dropped in. Usually the children met on Saturday and the adults on Wednesday but there were times when one group joined the other.”

The art experiences were as varied as the participants themselves.

“We started with garden art, then beach art, moved on to dot painting and an exploration of various styles from Ted Harrison to Emily Carr to Jackson Pollock,” said McKinnon. “By August we had created garden totems, fish planks, banners, aprons and tee shirts as well as work on paper, wood and canvas. We had lifted our spirits, played with paint, explored our creative impulses, acquired new skills, made new friends and laughed our way through the pandemic.”

One thing led to another and as the weather improved, the group began socializing after class on the driveway, and later on a neighbour’s deck.

One day, McKenzie suggested that the group hold an art show, with the proceeds going to charity.

“Friends and neighbours were invited,” said McKinnon. “Goodies and organic apple juice were produced. Pieces were purchased. Donations were made. Ralph Barrat and his sidekick, Greg showed up to play and sing. Kelly Madden read her poetry.”

And in the process, $400 was collected and donated to MARS the following week.

Margaret McKenzie presents a $400 cheque to MARS volunteer Terry Chaney, proceeds from an art sale hosted by her Comox neighbourhood. Photo supplied

It was a worthwhile experience to all involved.

“We know that we are not the only group to come together during COVID,” said McKinnon. “We heard from our mail deliverer that there was a theatre group a few blocks over and there may be many more similar initiatives to inspire new gatherings.

“Margaret, the generous and creative spirit behind this particular venture can be found at silverbowerbird.ca A new offering is in the works for late September. Check it out. We’ll be out on the driveway as long a the weather permits.”