• Hunter Cresswell

Thinking inside the box

Local art goodie box launches

The past year has been hard.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses big and small, but hit especially hard is the local arts community.

It’s one reason why Wakefield Artist Box Collective founder and organizer Rylee Taggart started her project.

“I was just trying to find a way to help local artists through these weird times,” she said.

The idea she came up with? A box chockablock full of local goodies.

This initial offering includes the work of eight local creators, including a vinyl record from Luther Wright, a Rebelle vinyl record and merch (Rebelle is a band that Taggart plays piano in), a print set from Noel Smith-Sparrow, a t-shirt with a print from photographer David Irvine, a photo-based mixed media painting print by Vortex Studio owner and artist Stella Pagani, and artisanal barbeque sauce from Kaffé 1870 pop-up chef Sami Mehta.

Wakefield Artist Box Collective founder Rylee Taggart (left) and photographer David Irvine in Irvine’s Wakefield studio holding a sample of the pieces of art up for offer in what Taggart said she hopes is the first of many boxes featuring art from Gatineau Hills creatives. Hunter Cresswell photo

“There’s so many artists to choose from, but I was trying to get a variety,” Taggart said about this box, which features fare to please the eyes, ears, and tongue.

“I could think of a million more names,” she added about the abundance of local artists. She stated that if this box sells well, she will offer it again in the coming months with a different selection of artists.

“I think it will help, and that artists young and old will jump to be part of this...,” Irvine said.

“The artist box was a great opportunity to expand into artist prints; really excited to use Glen Fosters printing services,” Pagani added.

Taggart said the idea of the box was inspired by local restaurants like The Village House, which have sold boxes of local food over the past year. Taggart also added that she’d like to make this a seasonal offering if it goes well.

COVID-19 hasn’t only taken a bite out of artists’ wallets — all the doom and gloom over the past year has taken a toll on their inspiration too.

“It’s been a weird year,” Taggart said.

Her band Rebelle, which features other local talented musicians, has had difficulties getting together to practice and jam because of the curfew and restrictions on gatherings, not to mention the inability to play for live audiences.

“I’ve struggled for sure,” Irvine said.

When asked about his creative inspiration over a year into a pandemic, which has kept people cooped up like factory farmed chickens, Irvine said that “there’s almost none.”

“I’m leaning on the past more than anything. I’ve delved deep into my archives,” he said.

There are still some boxes left before the April 12 purchase deadline. The cost is $150 each and will be delivered before the end of this month. Orders can be made by reaching out through the collective’s Facebook page, facebook.com/wakefieldartistcollective or by emailing wakefieldartistbox@gmail.com.

“If construction and million dollar mansion sales can boom during the pandemic, so can we,” Irvine said.

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