Supporting Artists

February 25, 2010

The Lifeskills Centre is a unique and groundbreaking resource centre providing opportunities to enter capacity building programs and classes, as well as basic services such as laundry, food, and showers, to Canada’s most vulnerable population. The Lifeskills Centre’s mission is to empower the lives of our visitors and create opportunities for those who are hardest to reach and who have the least in material and cultural capital.

Many opportunities are available through our Peer Initiative Training Program; members of the centre are encouraged to volunteer in the facilitation of the daily schedule. This involves general maintenance, preparation and serving of daily meals, managing the front desk, facilitating support groups, harm reduction groups, or skill building groups. A peer is someone who is part of the community that the centre serves, who has the ability to be patient, empathetic, supportive and approachable.

One of our Peer programs is an open door, drop-in studio for artists on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for 3-hour sessions. The mandate of this Studio is to provide a creative and safe space for people in the neighbourhood, and to provide the supplies necessary to express themselves through art. The Studio is home to a collaborative artistic community, and is facilitated by three artist peers. These are artists who lack the means but not the talent to produce art and reap the benefits of creative endeavour.

The artists have created a display of their art in the studio that lifts the energy of the room and those that use it, they have provided images for greeting cards and invitations and made posters for events, and they create an environment every time they open their studio that is welcoming, positive, creative and peaceful; a true respite for artists seeking shelter from the storm of often chaotic activity in their lives. The three co-facilitators are Shawn Giroux, Rocky Del Paso and Peter Bunting.

The following short bios are written collaborations with the artists:

Shawn, known as L’Chronic, for Chronic Love, his artist name, has been an artist for 20 years and is currently working on many projects. Most important to him is his cartoon, Chronic Familia, which is about uniting people and discovering new music, and also about the problems that people face in life and different ways to solve them. Shawn does a lot of painting; he sells his work on the street, meeting new people and opening doors through that interaction. He says of the Lifeskills Studio that he “loves it” because he gets to “meet different artists, have materials available‚Ķ and help people that need [it in creating art.]”

Rocky has been making art since he was six and has continued through his adulthood, creating work that ranges from “colonial style to modern, sceneries to fantasy images.” Rocky used to be a drafting engineer, working free hand, and wants to do computer animation in the future. He says that he has “found inspiration” in the Lifeskills Studio and that he enjoys “expressing his art and sharing it with other members at the centre – passing that inspiration on to others, who might not have otherwise [picked up a brush.]”

Peter has really been a great catalyst for the growth and development of this Studio; he wanted “to help supply people with an option for a place to go to do art so that they aren’t painting in back allies and enable people without money to create.” Peter’s art comes from whatever inspires him creatively, whether in life or in media: he paints for himself and focuses on self-expression through his art.