Creative wealth for mental health

The fifth annual Art on the Street showcases a wide range of artwork including modern and unconventional pieces

Organizer Maggie Hogan says both amateurs and professional artists participate in the annual festival.
Organizer Maggie Hogan says both amateurs and professional artists participate in the annual festival.
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Maggie Hogan has been working with Art on the Street for the last six years. The festival promotes artwork from people with addiction and mental health issues.
Maggie Hogan has been working with Art on the Street for the last six years. The festival promotes artwork from people with addiction and mental health issues.
Photo: 

Art on the Street isn’t on the street. The annual art festival — that showcases work from people with addiction and mental health issues at Kingston Street Health Centre — will showcase over 20 artists at a donated space on Princess Street.

Art on the Street began as the brainchild of Kelly Sexsmith, a Street Health counsellor who saw how mental health and addiction issues made it difficult for artists to showcase their work.

The show was devised to give artists a venue to show and sell their art. The festival is now in its fifth year and acts as an impetus for these artists to create.

Art on the Street finds space to use as a gallery by borrowing from local businesses. The show will run from Wednesday to Sunday at a Keystone Properties building on Princess Street. A musical and spoken word performance is the main event at Music on the Street on Saturday night.

Organizer Maggie Hogan is a local artist who has volunteered with the show for six years.

“At first, people just came to support the artists, but now, they keep coming back because they’re interested in the art,” she said.

According to Hogan, anyone using the Street Health facilities or affiliated with someone using them can participate in the festival. The artists range from amateurs to those who are professionally-trained.

“We have a whole variety of styles on display, from some that is quite modern and unconventional,” she said.

This year, the show will be captured on film for a documentary on the project.

“We hope to use it as a tool to show organizations what we’ve done and encourage them to do something similar,” Hogan said.

After the show, Art on the Street will launch a website designed by Josh Lyon from the Kingston Arts Council.

Despite community support, Hogan said she doesn’t see many Queen’s students attend Art on the Street exhibits.

She said it’s a problem of awareness, as “usually Queen’s students only ever find out about the event after the fact.”

Hogan said this is unfortunate, because she feels there is a raw, edgy quality in the work that would appeal to many students.

Art on the Street usually has an attendance of 400 to 500 people over the five days of the festival.

“Of course, there’s always the issue of time and resources,” Hogan said. “It’s truly a positive thing for many people who would not otherwise have the resources to harness their artistic talents.”

Art on the Street begins tomorrow and runs until Sunday. More information on events can be found at artonthestreet.ca.

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