The art of helping

At a time when the 36-bed Red Deer women’s shelter is running at full capacity, a local art gallery has come up with a creative way of taking a stand against domestic violence.

Carla Rebman sets out Teresa Posyniak’s Place for a Teacup

At a time when the 36-bed Red Deer women’s shelter is running at full capacity, a local art gallery has come up with a creative way of taking a stand against domestic violence.

A fine art fundraiser, organized by bilton contemporary art, will be held for the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter’s 24-hour crisis helpline next week at the gallery at 4b, 5809 51st Ave.

More than 40 females artists from across the province will be selling a diverse array of paintings, prints, sculptures and pottery during The Art of Women exhibit, which runs from Thursday to Oct. 31. Forty per cent of each purchase will be donated to the shelter that provides a refuge for abused women and children.

As well, a painting by Calgary artist Teresa Posyniak will be auctioned off during a wine and cheese reception featuring a jazz trio, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday.

Anita Bhadresa, owner of bilton contemporary art, said part of the gallery’s mandate is giving back to the community. And a great way of doing this is by supporting an organization that helps the most vulnerable citizens, abused women and children, added Bhadresa, who noted domestic violence cuts a wide swath — not only affecting abuse victims, but also their friends, co-workers and relatives.

“It impacts people in a lot of ways.”

The fundraiser is welcomed by women’s shelter staff, who say it couldn’t come at a better time.

“The economy is definitely having an impact on us,” said Tara Heppell, in charge of raising funds for the non-profit group.

The strain of job uncertainty and unemployment is causing more domestic strife, said Heppell, who added that the Red Deer shelter has been completely full for some time — which is unusual. Shelter beds usually fill up during the summer months, when mothers can leave home without disrupting their children’s school routines, and empty out in the fall — but not this year.

Heppell said, “There are just a lot more stress triggers” during this economically challenging time. Unfortunately, the same uncertainty has also caused donations to drop off when the shelter most needs them.

The fine arts fundraiser “is very important to us,” said Heppell said — not only will it raise money, but also make more of the community aware of what the shelter does. “We were in the position of having to do some fundraising or struggling into the Christmas season.”

Bhadresa praised local businesses for getting behind the fundraiser by donating refreshments and other items.

The donated portion of art sales will come directly out of the gallery’s proceeds. “The artists will still get paid because we always like to support the artists, too,” Bhadresa added.

The female artists contacted, including Anna Marie Ferguson, Susan Woolgar, Kate More, Elyse Eliot-Los and Jeanette Northey, have been very supportive of the cause. Women and children are sometimes depicted in their works, but there are also floral still-lifes, abstracts and landscapes. The pieces sell from $100 to over $1,000.

“Pretty much everything is represented,” said gallery manager Carla Rebman, who noted the idea of helping out the local women’s shelter came out of a conversation she and Bhadresa had with Calgary artist Posyniak, whose depictions of aboriginal women were featured at bilton contemporary art.

Posyniak, who has taught at the Alberta College of Art, previously painted a series on domestic violence and has volunteered with the Prairie Action Foundation, a group that funds research on causes and solutions to spousal abuse.

For more information on the fundraiser, call 403-343-3933 or go to the shelter’s website,

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