Ottawa Star • November 7, 2013
www.OttawaStar.com • PAGE 3
Oh won’t you color me some Ottawa By Samantha Ammoun
rom the jazz rhythms echoing through the St Elias banquet hall, the smell of fresh coffee simmering to the beautiful pieces of art decorating every corner, Ottawans were invited to observe, to buy and to speak to some of Canada’s most exceptionally talented artists at the Ottawa Art Expo between October 26 and 27. “It’s artist meets public. You can just float around and you don’t feel any pressure,” said Ross Rheaume, cofounder of the Ottawa Art Expo. “Here everyone is welcome, it’s really a friendly environment, and no one is trying to get a buck out of this.” The not-for-profit organization was founded in 2008 to provide a significant indoor event for fine arts. With only 70 spots available and hundreds of applicants, Rheaume said this year’s judges looked to select artists who showed a greater level of skill, technique and overall quality in their art. Hamid Ayoub, painter and instructor, is no stranger to this event; his art was showcased for a fourth consecutive year. “I have to compete very hard, with very good artists,” he said. Ayoub was born in Sudan and arrived to Canada in 2001 when asked to represent West African countries in visual arts at the Jeux de la Francophonie. He has remained in Ottawa ever since. “I feel safe here, I can create more. In a sense, my art saved me,” said Ayoub. “My family was still in Sudan for six years before they finally joined me. I used art to relieve myself from depression and the stress.” Ayoub’s collection of paintings reflect his personal experiences from back in Sudan, which at times were difficult. Yet, Ayoub still looks to trigger joy in his paintings by making use of vibrant color choices and a unique pallet knife technique. Sandy Sharkey, on the other hand, was selected to showcase her photographs for the first time and was delighted to do so. She has travelled across Canada and the United States to take pictures of all kinds of animals, but her greatest passion is wild horses. “When you’re standing on a mountain pass and a herd of wild horses run by you, it has to be one of the most amazing experiences of your entire life, these animals are majestic and the ultimate symbol of freedom,” she said. “Hopefully someone will have one speak to them and they’ll end up on their living room wall.” Yisa Akinbolaji, who drove all the way from Winnipeg to be a part of the event, showcased a unique painting technique, harmonizing layers of paint, shapes, colors and textures.
OriginallyfromNigeria,Akinbolajifound inspiration in sounds of music and nature. “The purpose of my layering is to make people experience a little magic. I want people to look at my work as an abstract work that brings two people to communicate,” he said. Ottawans also had the unique opportunity to see the works of those who had received particular recognition during the Art Expo’s award ceremony that was held October 25.
Yisa Akinbolaji, an abstract painter at the Ottawa Art Expo. Photo: Samantha Ammoun