As the child of an artist, I was fortunate to be exposed to the visual arts and art galleries from very early on. My mother, Gloria Kagawa, is a printmaker and her art would often be shown in exhibits around Southern Ontario, especially in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. The most memorable and enjoyable times I shared with my brothers and family, were the art-openings I got to attend where my mom was either the main artist or part of a group show. The art-openings often occurred in the evenings, and if it was a higher end gallery there would be plenty of expensive cheeses, crackers, and full-on meat and veggie platters with various dips and add-ons. Drinks were covered, as there was punch, soft-drinks, sparkling sodas, and of course plenty of wine. In those days, the gallery bar tender didn’t mind hooking you up with a couple of those shallow, transparent wine-glass look-a-like plastic cups full. I looked like an older teenager anyways, so they probably knew I could handle it. Although the food and drinks were something to look forward to at the time, I learned to also appreciate the art, as I was not allowed to just eat and go. My mom always ensured that I took some time to look at the work and go around and talk with people. So that’s what I did and over time it became second nature and something I enjoyed more and more every time she was part of a new show. Looking back now, I feel so fortunate to have had those experiences as they really gave me an appreciation for the visual arts. As a teenager that was my perspective, but for my mom it was not so easy-going.
Everybody enjoys to look at the art, to take it in, but nobody thinks about what the artist goes through to prepare for a show; making sure the art itself is complete, framing (which is very technical), transportation, hanging, brochures, speeches to prepare, invitations to write and send out – the list goes on and on. None of the time spent on those things is paid, and it’s not uncommon for the artist to have to shoulder most if not all the expenses incurred to prepare for and launch a show. Me and my brothers would help as much as possible, but my dad would always be the main logistics coordinator, making everything happen, always ready to support my mom to pull off a successful exhibition. If we were lucky, my mom might sell a painting or two, and we would all be treated to a family night out whether a movie or dinner or both. Oftentimes however there would be no sales, despite all the hard work and effort. Selling art was never a career path that provided a consistent income, but like most artists, my mom chose this career path because she loves to do it.
My mom relied on her art to help us cover expenses that we couldn’t afford otherwise. When I needed braces, my dad somehow talked the orthodontist into trading a few thousand dollars-worth of art to help pay for them. Growing up we didn’t get a lot of ‘extras’ when it came to new clothes or the latest electronics and toys. Socks were often expected at Christmas time, but it never mattered to me as a kid, as we had an enriching and full childhood. Thanks to my mom, my appreciation for art and artists themselves has never been greater. So, this site was started to recognize my mom and all the artists out there whose career and passion in life is art – despite all the challenges and instability that may come with it.