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East End Spotlight is a monthly news piece where we highlight a series of east end artists, arts organizations, creative spaces & professionals that we want to shine a spotlight on💙!

February East End Artist Spotlights

For February 2022, we got in touch with some new artists who live or work in east Toronto. Scroll down to read more about the following people and organizations this month:

    1. Charmaine Lurch – Interdisciplinary Artist
    2. Jan Belgrave – Multimedia Artist
    3. Theresa Stevenson – Beadwork & Textile Artist
    4. Tracey Prehay – Multidisciplinary Artist

*Banner image is a photograph of a painting by Jan Belgrave titled, “Bridge painting”.*

1. Artist Spotlight: Charmaine Lurch

A headshot of Charmaine Lurch. She is a women with medium-dark skin, brown eyes, and dark textured hair. She's smiling at the camera.Name: Charmaine Lurch

Discipline: Interdisciplinary (sculpture, painting, wire relief)

Artist Website:
charmainelurch.ca

Artist on Social:
Instagram @charmaine.lurch
Twitter @clurch
Facebook @lurchstudio

Artist Pronouns: She/Her

Describe yourself and your artwork:

I am an interdisciplinary visual artist, whose work attends to human-environmental rationalities. My paintings, sculptures, and wire relief work draw from rich narratives and research on and about embodied experiences on lands. 

I work with a range of materials and themes, to produce work that emits an undulating hope in gestures of movement, flight, and dance, making connections to interspecies relationships, quiet moments of joy, and to Black life and movement globally.

How does your culture, background, and/or upbringing influence your creative work?

My culture, background, and upbringing helped me to notice from a young age – things such as the quality of light, small movements of things, how people are, shadows… These understandings come out of language, through education, from the arts, are activated by innovative thought and ideas from those close, but also from a broader community. Together, these foundations help me shape objects and envision the world in a number of ways.

What is one of your greatest achievements as an artist thus far?

Seeing people encounter the work, engage with the materials, take photos in the same poses as my drawings, and folks that want to wrap wire with me or participate in my public artwork is what I feel is a successful part of my practice.  Connecting with others in the space and place that the work inhabits is for me a wonderful experience!

What is a goal that you have for the future?

I would like to make visible our interhuman/interspecies/environmental relationships. And, more so, to imagine how to make space for Black lives to flourish through my art!

Where do you find inspiration? Or what do you do to become inspired?

I talk to people, I walk in nature and between buildings, I notice things.

Who do you look up to?

I don’t know if I look up to anybody per se – I look around and notice a number of people doing remarkable work across disciplines such as science, history, and art. I look in all directions to find what I need.

How do you want communities to remember your art?

To have an individual or community intentionally or unintentionally interact with my art, and retain for a moment, or for a long time, some aspect of what that particular piece is for me, enough. We cannot know what to expect or how and what people remember. 

What advice would you give to emerging artists?

Pay attention to things that catch your attention, play, work hard and look for connections in all things.

A fun fact about your for our readers:

I like to make snow angels!

2. Artist Spotlight: Jan Belgrave

A black and white headshot of Jan Belgrave. She is a woman with light skin and blond hair. She wears square frame glasses and is smiling wide at the camera.Name: Jan Belgrave

Discipline: I have a few – Mixed Media Abstract Painting/Doodle Art/Fiber Artist-Crochet Designer (Women’s Accessories)

Artist on Social:
Instagram @jan_belgravesquared.fineartist

Artist Pronouns: She/Her

Describe yourself and your artwork:

In my abstract artworks, I thrive on making a mess and then stepping away and living with the chaos. Living with that chaos until I can enter and make more marks, more strokes, more movements and then leave again. I just continue to enter and leave a piece until it speaks to me. When that happens I feel myself and the viewer have something to really visually explore and experience and talk about. All the different mediums I use allow me to express all kinds of appealing ideas, thoughts and emotions all in one abstract piece.

I began my art education at George Vanier – Vocational ARTS Program because I wanted to study, life drawing, advertising and design, pottery, abstract art, sketching, drawing and mixed media art. I then went on to Seneca College to study Graphic Design and stayed for 2 years and then found a job in the arts and left to begin work.  Later in my adult life and now unable to work full-time anymore because of health challenges went back to study FINE ARTS at Central Technical – Adults Fine Arts Program. I loved it and knew I was finally exactly where I belonged. I was able to complete only two years there and left to begin my own art practice and start trying to display my work where ever and how ever I could. I have had a few art private art shows and did very well. I have designed two hand doodled/zen tangle colouring books that I hope to sell very soon online. I am also in the process of trying to teach and inspire other creatives. I currently design and sell crochet and knit one of a kind accessories for men and women. Also, planning a month as Artist in Residence with the East End Arts Organization. 

I am a creative person to the core. I arrived into this world dancing, singing, painting, and colouring. I love to create, make things and design things. I crochet and knit one of-a-kind really funky accessories for women and men. I love to sketch, draw and create small and large abstractions of nature, musical, dance and movement type paintings. My favorite mediums are all of them in one piece. I love to work with graphite, china markers, acrylic paint, pencil crayons, natural food dyes, ink, chalk pastel, oil pastel and paint pens all in one large piece and also throw in collage on top of all that. I love to make a mess until it turns into something of beauty for me and the viewer.

How does your culture, background, and/or upbringing influence your creative work?

I was raised rather privileged. Throughout my life I was blessed to travel all through Canada and the United States. We also had a cottage up in northern Ontario and I became an avid swimmer and water-skier. I also studied ballet with the Royal Academy of Dance. I also worked in the Music Industry for most of my life. I modeled, sang, and danced in music videos in the 1980’s. All of these amazing experiences provide influence into my work. I am now a partially disabled woman with Fibromyalgia and Arthritis and know physical pain daily, trouble with sleep and hardship. I am grateful for all of the negative and positive experiences in my life.

What is one of your greatest achievements as an artist thus far?

I think that would have to be when I entered art contests and would win. I didn’t fully understand why I would usually win. In high school I entered a pottery design contest and won. Then in college entered a Christmas Card Design contest and won again. I had to admit to myself that I must have some kind of creative talent that the public enjoyed.

What is a goal that you have for the future?

I would love to leave some of my art behind me. Would love to be involved in a large art project within my community. I would also love to teach other artists how to be creative.

Where do you find inspiration? Or what do you do to become inspired?

My inspiration mainly comes from being born into a rather privileged family, yet my life experiences have provided me with rather colourful perspective. I have been very fortunate to have been in the music industry, to study ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance, travelled across Canada and the United States. I was also an Addiction Counsellor for 10 years. I now live in chronic pain and have been blessed to have met many other brave and courageous sufferers. I find inspiration in all aspects of my life and the experiences of others. I also am inspired by all kinds of visual stimuli, especially what I see in nature. My daily faith and mediation practices also stimulate and inspire my pieces of work.

Who do you look up to?

My main arting influences are Modigliani, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Wendy McWilliams – American Abstract Artist, Judy Onody – Canadian Watercolour Artist (the girl who taught me how to colour in colouring books when I was just a child), and Monet.

How do you want communities to remember your art?

I would love to leave behind traces of my artwork in the world: online or in the community.

What advice would you give to emerging artists?

The difference between good and great is practice…Do 15 minutes of art a day. It will turn into more than 15 very quickly.

A fun fact about your for our readers:

My all time favorite hero is Curious George. I am just like him!!! I am curious about everything and ask people all about themselves. I am fascinated by what makes people tick and how to do things, make things and why they do what they do. Just call me Curious Jan.

3. Artist Spotlight: Theresa Stevenson

A headshot of Theresa Stevenson. She has medium-light skin, dark hair and dark eyes. She is wearing a bright magenta bandana and black shirt.Name: Theresa Stevenson

Discipline: Media / Textiles / Beadwork

Website: iskwewrising.com

Artist on Social:
Instagram @iskwewrising

Artist Pronouns: She/Her

Describe yourself and your artwork:

Iskwew (Woman) Rising is named in homage to the resilience of Indigenous women. Iskwew Risings focus is on original and authentically made works. You can’t appropriate if you originate.

 Theresa Stevenson is a Plains and Swampy Cree registered with Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba, who is currently based in Toronto.

How does your culture, background, and/or upbringing influence your creative work?

My great grandma used to go to Expos selling handmade items. I’ve seen pictures of her sitting at her booths stacked full of moccasins. I remember my grandma staying up all night beading before a big event. Who knew that would be me in 20 years. I’m proud of it too. I keep the family legacy going.

What is one of your greatest achievements as an artist thus far?

Fashion Magazine has been a great support.

What is a goal that you have for the future?

To survive a pandemic.

Where do you find inspiration? Or what do you do to become inspired?

Its all fluid and changing.

Who do you look up to?

Anyone who has excelled in their craft.

How do you want communities to remember your art?

I’d rather my community thrive for generations than be remembered.

What advice would you give to emerging artists?

Overthrow capitalism.

A fun fact about your for our readers:

My dog Porkchop rides in a stroller.

4. Artist Spotlight: Tracey Prehay

A headshot of Tracey Prehay. They have dark skin and poufy textured hair, they wear a black shirt and stare directly at the camera.Name: Tracey Prehay

Discipline: Multidisciplinary Artist

Artist on Social:
Instagram @ackeeandmaple

Artist Pronouns: She/Her/They

Describe yourself and your artwork:

I am a Toronto-based cultural producer, artist, and curator. I graduated with an Associate degree in Visual Arts from OCADU, and I continued my studies at the Dutch Art Institute (DAI, ArtEZ Hogeschool Voor de Kunsten), where I completed an MFA. Additionally, I earned a Graduate Certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College.

As a visual artist, my work explores personal/cultural memory by creating publicly engaged projects and workshops. As an experienced art professional, I have extensive programming and supporting programs and events for regional, national, and international artists.

How does your culture, background, and/or upbringing influence your creative work?

I grew up in North York in a Jamaican household and spent summers with my dad in Nova Scotia. My time in Halifax allowed me to learn about Jamaica’s Maroons in Halifax, Africville and visit friends in North Preston. I gained a solid understanding of the historical context of African Diasporic people in North America during these summers.

What is one of your greatest achievements as an artist thus far?

Being a nomadic artist in my twenties.

What is a goal that you have for the future?

I aim to create a creative hub outside of the downtown core for cultural producers living in underserved neighbourhoods.

Where do you find inspiration? Or what do you do to become inspired?

I am passionate about promoting artists throughout Toronto, raising awareness of arts and culture, and helping artists thrive.

Who do you look up to?

My grandmother.

How do you want communities to remember your art?

As an artist who supported the growth and development of the creative sector in Toronto.

What advice would you give to emerging artists?

During my nine years in the banking industry, I also made art on the side. The thought of being creative when I arrived home was exhausting after working a 9-5. While working in the bank, I learned that sometimes you have to step outside yourself to see things clearly. Your creativity doesn’t stop, so you can come back whenever you want.

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