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Ode to the artist: from New York to Qualicum

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

I moved to Vancouver Island in 2019, excited to bring my art world background expertise from over 12 years in New York City to a more community centred rural location. The Old School House in Qualicum Beach has been around as an arts center since 1988, housed in a building from 1912, located in the oldest postal code in Canada. I was excited for the opportunity to push a historically rooted organization, with a beautiful history of community engagement and artistic support into its next iteration.

Digitization was a first priority, and creating connection, collaboration and partnership soon became apparent as a goal. I like to tell people that Canada only has the population of California, and Vancouver Island is even smaller than that! Due to the small size of this land mass (it only takes 7 hours to drive end to end!) and its large base of artists (around 1 in every 5 people on Vancouver Island is an artist! 35,000 people!) we have a unique opportunity to work together to re-create systems that serve our artists better, to innovate and think outside the box about the intersection of grass roots community connection and building marketplace systems with so many digital tool kits at our disposal.

I have a degree in anthropology with a minor in queer theory, and have always been transfixed by people's stories. I specifically was drawn to stories of artistic exploration, but was also baffled - how can we make truly beautiful work uninhibited by the trappings of a capitalist system, aka how can you be an artist and "make it" as an artist, and do you need to suffer to be an artist?

Fuelled by my desire to understand these systems, and be in service to those I found most fascinating in the world, I studied Visual Arts Administration at NYU and received my Masters. From there I began to work in every avenue of the art market, from small non profit galleries, to university gallery settings, to working with curators, private collectors, and dealers, I worked in conservation, and in all settings was exposed to the artistic condition, and the marketplace that surrounded that expression.

The idea that we create work out of the ether, and that creation becomes a vehicle for a language, a moment that then creates a feeling in another, is a constantly captivating turn for me, and I look forward to building bridges between the making space and the selling space in order to better support the people behind the work: ode to the artist, for you show us visions of the future.

Image credit: Zoey Heath


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