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Studio 52 art on display at Winter Games lounge

The 2020 Alberta Winter Games’ VIP lounge at Bert Church LIVE Theatre will feature more than free snacks and a soft couch to sit on.

The lounge, located in the theatre’s lobby from Feb. 14 to 16, will include a pop-up art exhibition presenting the 364 works of Studio 52 – a group of Airdrie-based artists who each created a 52 unique pieces of art throughout 2019.

“We’re actually hosting the lounge, so that means we’ll be providing snacks and beverages for the VIPs who happen to visit,” said Cindy Zampa, local artist and Studio 52 founder. “We thought we’d do something a little different by combining a lounge-type setting with refreshments, with a gallery for them to look at art and see what we’ve been working on all year.”

Studio 52 began in 2018 as a collaborative effort between Zampa, Sharon Shuttleworth, Melissa Brugelmans-LaBelle, Verone Solilo and Katherine Kimber. The five Airdrie artists each created an art piece each week in 2018, each reflecting a recurring theme, style or medium.

After a successful inaugural year, Zampa said the number of artists increased to seven for the project’s continuation in 2019. While Solilo and Kimber did not continue participating, four other artists took their place.

“The newcomers are Jaye Benoit, Pearl Taylor, Shanon Fitzgerald and Sara Zampa, my daughter,” she said.

Zampa said the theme of her acrylic paintings and accompanying writings was “legacies” – a word she feels is often misinterpreted.

“A lot of people think of a legacy as something that is left after someone dies,” she said. “They’ve left either money or something tangible like land. But what I realized was that we’re all leaving a legacy, whether we know it at the time or not, by our actions and our words, even.

“It’s not just what the dead leave, but what we ourselves are creating each moment – we create our own legacies on a daily basis.”

Brugelmans-LaBelle continued her theme of working with coffee on watercolour, Zampa said, while Shuttleworth focused most of her paintings on one subject – horses.

“She’s really exploring colour relationships in the paints,” Zampa said. “She has a very interesting project that you have to see to understand – she uses dice to determine which colours to mix together on each one of her paintings. Each has a colour scheme.”

Taylor’s still-life compositions were all done in pencil crayon, Zampa added, Benoit’s oil paintings all explored connections to nature within a suburban environment and Fitzgerald sought to show the beauty of nature in her acrylic paintings.

Differing from the other six members, Sara – a writer, graphic artist and web designer – undertook a “flash fiction” exercise of writing 52 short stories.

“It’s basically short stories that have to be done in 350 words or less, so it’s very challenging,” Zampa said. “She has a book of prompts that she has been working from. The prompt gives her the first sentence or half a sentence, and you use that as your launching point.”

Given the demands of creating a new piece each week, Zampa said the seven members supported and encouraged each other, meeting regularly throughout the process.

“There have been a couple of times each year, where life has intervened in ways that have prevented certain artists from painting for weeks at a time,” she said. “That’s understandable – that’s life, and that’s what happens. It’s about helping and supporting that person to get through that phase, and understand it’s OK if you’re behind – that you’ll catch up and get through this.

“It’s working and talking about it as a group that helps each one of us find our path through it. Amazingly, we’ve pulled it together.”

While the exhibition will be located in the Games’ VIP lounge, Zampa said everyone is welcome to check out the artwork. The pop-up gallery will be open for viewing and the pieces will be available for purchase Feb. 14 from 1 to 9 p.m., and Feb. 15 and 16 from 12 to 9 p.m.

Also, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 15, Zampa said, a special program will be held to celebrate the completion of Studio 52’s second year.

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