When Creative on Queen was started, the hope was to bring the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) together with the community and give clients a platform to share their artistic talents.
Now, in its ninth year, the annual show and sale, held as a community partnership to the Queen West Art Crawl (QWAC), has become exactly what was hoped, said organizer Bharati Singh.
Singh, who works in public affairs at CAMH, said Creative on Queen was started as a means of complementing and participating in the annual QWAC, just down the street in Trinity Bellwoods Park.
“We decided, we are part of this community, we wanted to break down stigma, we wanted to open our grounds to the community and host a community fair,” Singh said.
At the time, a lot of the galleries around CAMH were hosting events for the QWAC, and Singh said CAMH decided to do the same.
“It was a way of welcoming the community onto our grounds because it wasn’t a welcoming environment before,” Singh said, referring to the massive redevelopment of CAMH, which saw old buildings torn down and replaced with more inclusive buildings and streets, bringing people into the CAMH community.
While the annual Queen West Art Crawl is an important way for those living and working on Queen West to get together and celebrate this unique neighbourhood, Creative on Queen is CAMH’s way of introducing people to the CAMH community and showcase the creative talents of those who live with mental health and addictions issues and those who work with marginalized communities.
All of the vendors, musicians, poetry readers, buskers and arts are people with lived experience.
But that doesn’t diminish the work, Singh said, adding the art featured at Creative on Queen rivals what is seen at the Queen West Art Crawl.
“Their art is not subpar, it really does stand on its own,” Singh said. “It is all about empowerment, too. They (participating artists) are so proud of their creations.”
What makes Creative on Queen even more interesting, she said, is that since the redevelopment of the Queen West CAMH site, the physical space now fits perfectly the original goal of Creative on Queen, by bringing community and CAMH together.
“The demographics are changing here, and I love the face that there is a sense of community, our grounds are accessible,” Singh said.
More than 60 vendors will be on hand selling paintings, photographs, jewelry, clothing, pottery, baked goods and woodwork.
The vendors at Creative on Queen are not charged a fee to participate and keep the profits, Singh said.
Creative on Queen takes place Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the CAMH lawn at Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue.
Workman Arts artists will also be participating in the Creative on Queen event and are collaborating with CAMH to showcase live entertainment. In addition, Workman Arts’ “place” exhibition is installed in the pop-up gallery space in the trailer on Queen Street West at Gordon Bell Road. There will also be with sidewalk poetry reading performances scheduled during Creative on Queen.
Workman Arts provides individuals who have mental illness opportunities to engage in creative activities that develop their artistic strengths in accepting and supportive atmospheres.