STICKY: A Post-It Note Art Show Makes Fine Art Accessible

For this niche art exhibit, size does matter

STICKY: A Post-It Note Art Show, hosted by Hot Art Wet City, had 3×3 artworks – like this one by Wendy Ho. (Kristen Frier)

STICKY: A Post-It Note Art Show was a free event in East Van that offered three-by-three-inch works of art at the accessible price of $20 a pop.

Hosted by Hot Art Wet City on March 30, the night was inspired by a much larger event held at Giant Robot in Los Angeles, and the love for the concept was not lost on Vancouverites. A line-up of art lovers went down the block for the duration of the four-hour event.

“The arts in Vancouver aren’t dying like everyone thinks,” says Jeff Sterns, one of the curators for this event and Founder of Meditating Bunny Studio Inc. “The fact that so many people turned up gives us hope for arts in the city.”

Despite how well-attended the event was, it’s no secret that art spaces in Vancouver are falling victim to rising rent costs. Many people just can’t afford to support the arts because it doesn’t take precedence over paying rent or buying food.

“Vancouver is an expensive city,” says Chris Bentzen, owner of Hot Art Wet City, freelance graphic designer, and event producer. “It’s hard to convince people to spend money on something that doesn’t have immediate value. Like food for example—art is a little more intangible and if you don’t have much money to spare then spending it on something intangible might not be a priority.”

An event like this—with no cover charge, low cost materials, and low cost art for attendees to take home—can transform the Vancouver art scene from being exclusive to being accessible and participatory.

“It’s not just something that’s happening here,” says Flavia, who only goes by one name. “Even in the States, where people do buy art so much more and they have a greater audience, galleries that are well-established are starting to move to an online platform.”

Flavia is an Emily Carr student who prefers working on a smaller scale. She participated in the 14th annual post-it show at Giant Robot in L.A. and is responsible for bringing the idea to our neck of the woods.

The main emphasis of this show was non-exclusivity. Flavia believes that a lot of commercial galleries in the city have a relatively selective roster of artists, so she found it refreshing to push that boundary with an open call for submissions. The guidelines were very inclusive. All works had to be a one-of-a-kind piece on a post-it note, each artist could submit six to 10 pieces, and the subject matter had to be inoffensive (non-homophobic, ableist, racist, and so on).

“I don’t think we had to turn away a single submission,” says Stearns. “This was a fun way of bringing together various arts communities. From painters to illustrators to animators to comic artists—anyone who came could find something they liked.”

This powerhouse of a production team is hoping to make STICKY an annual event. Check out hotartwetcity.com for upcoming events from Bentzen, and stay tuned for Hapa-palooza, Canada’s largest mixed-race arts and culture festival, from Stearns.

“Keep your eye out for calls for artists,” says Flavia to any art student looking to break into the industry. “That, for me, has helped open a lot more doors.”

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