Street youth show art at Gallery 1313
By: Erin Hatfield

Art is the only thing that brings David Michael Rendall fulfillment.

The 22 year old says painting helps him grow and express himself, but at the same time it can be his downfall.

“Art is kind of the only thing I have ever been really good at,” he told the Villager in an interview.

In pursuit of his passion for painting, Rendall found himself broke and living off soup kitchens.

“It is really hard to focus on your creative expression if that is what you are doing to survive,” he said.

He has been living at Eva’s Phoenix for about two months. It’s a place that offers transitional housing for street youths. But along with giving him a warm place to rest his head at night, it’s awarded him an opportunity to showcase his work at Gallery 1313 on Queen Street West, as part of the 6th Annual Juried Love Exhibition: Mask.

The Love Exhibition works to raise awareness about society’s responsibility to support others. Each year, the proceeds from the show support community-based organizations. This year’s proceeds will go towards Nomads, an art program for street youth.

“Through this project, we have had the opportunity to bring together street-involved youth from programs: Sketch, Evergreen and Eva’s Phoenix (all organizations catering to street-involved youth),” said Stanzie Tooth, an intern with Lonsdale Gallery.

“We provided these programs with art supplies, so that their membership could also make entries for the show.”

Rendall’s series of paintings, he said, represent the idea that people are punctured.

“We are not a perfect circle,” Rendall said. “We have a hole in us and that is where we express ourselves.”

Jamie Wolfond, who is an artist as well as the nephew to the owner of Lonsdale Gallery, which curates the Love Exhibition, came up with the idea of involving street youth in the show.

“The whole art scene in street culture has interested me for a long time,” he said. “When you work with people that have had more intense life experiences than your average person, you are bound to get more meaningful work.”

The annual Love Exhibition was the perfect opportunity to give the street youth some exposure for their art and possibly raise funds for them.

There are 12 artists showing in the Nomads exhibition and 35 artists in the Love Exhibition.

The idea is to create a bridge between professional artists and the artists in the program and to show the street youths’ art in a way and at a gallery that respects their work.

“Our dream for the project is that we will create an art mentorship program that will help the youth expand on their creative skills,” Tooth said.

“Some of the youth we are dealing with have had problems with drugs and alcohol, so it is great to support a pastime that is positive in nature.”

Elaine Belore, a program supervisor at Eva’s Phoenix, explained they are always looking for ways to partner with the community and she saw the Love Exhibition as a perfect pairing.

“I thought this was a great opportunity for our street-involved youth to present their art,” Belore said. “We are youth that are interested in art, the bottom line is they don’t have a lot of opportunity to show.”

Among their peers, the artists at Eva’s Phoenix are known as just that, true artists.

This show, Belore said, gives the general public an opportunity to see them in the same light.

Visit www.g1313.org for more information on the show.

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