Art isn't scary, and it isn't just for the rich: that's what a small but determined group of Vancouver artists, curators, and gallery owners are out to prove.
Leading the pack are two unique art shows happening this month: The Postcard Show and CARDED!
Saturday marks the fourth volume of The Postcard Show, which features the original work of artists on — you guessed it — postcards. After the work is presented, each piece is sold in a silent auction with a starting bid of $10, with increasing increments of $5.
"I'm trying to basically rid the art world of its elitism," curator Paulina de la Paz told The Huffington Post B.C. "There's a kind of accessibility to the art. It's just not [about] seeing that high art."
Artists can create as many postcards as they like, using whatever method they choose: painting, drawing, origami, textile, scratch, or something else entirely.
"It's basically to allow younger artists or curators like myself to have more opportunities," explained de la Paz. "And to be able to exhibit in various galleries around Vancouver."
The Postcard Show is travelling to Mexico City later this year, and de la Paz hopes to take it to Berlin in 2015.
The show features the work of 50 artists reproduced onto 2.5 inch by 3.5 inch trading cards. The art is displayed at the gallery, and then the audience can buy random packs of the cards for $5. They're invited to trade their cards with others to end up with their perfect combination.
"It's really about engaging art audiences in a way that they're not used to being engaged," Hot Art Wet City owner Bentzen told HuffPost B.C. Bentzen co-produces CARDED! with Jim Hoehnle.
"Getting people into a gallery is sometimes a challenge. Making it fun and accessible is an easy way to get people out [and make them] realize that it's not what they think it is — a gallery can be a fun place to go."
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Bentzen and Hoehnle started CARDED! in 2009 after the success of Hot One Inch Action, which started in 2004. That show, which takes place each fall, reprints art on one-inch buttons.
While the independent scene takes the lead on making art more accessible, there are larger initiatives aiming to introduce it to the masses.
The Canadian Art Foundation and the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver are hosting Vancouver Gallery Hop, a day of free art talks and tours, on April 12. And the Vancouver Biennale started last month, celebrating art in what is perhaps its most accessible form: out in public.
Public art is in abundance in Vancouver, whether it's a bunch of red umbrellas hanging from trees, a large golden tree by famous artist Douglas Coupland, or a "custom-knitted sweater" billowing over the city's waterfront. Even Banksy is taking notice.
But perhaps what makes projects like CARDED! and The Postcard Show so different is that they allow fans to actually take works home.
"That's where this gallery has come from, is [that idea of] getting art into people's hands for less money," Bentzen said.
Neither The Postcard Show nor CARDED! are new to the city, but they are still being discovered by Vancouverites who realize that all they need to appreciate visual art is a pair of eyes.
"For a long time, people expected that you had to have a fine art degree to understand [the work]," Bentzen said.
"But there's a shift now to a bunch of people willing to check it out and realizing, 'Hey, I don't have to understand it. I just have to look at it. If I like it, I like it, and that's fine, and if I don't, that's also fine.'"
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