Artist creating Portraits in a Pandemic for Kamloops Food Bank

Art fundraiser for food bank

If you've been staring at an empty spot on your wall for the last couple of weeks, but also want to donate to the Kamloops Food Bank, it may be time for a portrait.

Local artist Stace DeWolf has started a new campaign called Portraits in a Pandemic. It's fairly simple; for $80 he'll create a 28-inch-by-22-inch portrait of you (or your pet). Of that, $20 will go to the Kamloops Food Bank.

The first couple of pieces he's done so far were actually of friends in the U.S., including one of a Pennsylvanian health-care worker who shaved his beard to better wear a mask.

"I could easily do three a day," he tells Castanet. "No problem."

Right now he's only doing individual portraits. People can purchase a portrait from his online store and then email him a photo of the person (or pet).

His style, which he admits isn't for everyone, is heavily influenced by Picasso, Van Gogh and German expressionists.

He, like many others, has some extra time at home right now; he's trying to minimize how much he leaves the house (pick up of the art is done from his front porch). 

In addition to the portraits, he's also selling prints of his new piece, The Front Line, with proceeds going to the food bank (prints are printed locally). And partial proceeds from other purchases on his online store go to the food bank as well (and are sent from the supplier).

The Front Line was inspired by two women in his life.

"My mother-in-law has her doctorate in nursing; she's teaching in Qatar," he says. "And my wife works at Overlander extended care hospital."

The artwork is an effort to realistically portray the toll it's taking on health-care workers while they still get up and go to work every day. There's also a nod to the Spanish flu, with the red crosses on the uniform.

"I wanted to do a piece that was honouring their struggle and battle," DeWolf explains. "It shows the wear and tear."

The original was purchased by Karrie Simons' uncle and given to her. As an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse, the image resonates with her, and she appreciates the nod to nursing's past during pandemics and wars.

"In the art, obviously, she's wearing armor; she looks strong, she looks tired," Simons says. "(That's) a good representation of what a health-care worker might feel."

She describes receiving the art as a joyful moment, one that also brought tears.

"I was feeling pretty defeated and when I received it I just felt so loved and supported," she says, calling the piece empowering.

Now, she's planning on hanging it in Royal Inland Hospital's ICU once it's framed and approved.

So far, DeWolf estimates they've raised $400 for the food bank since starting the fundraiser this past weekend.

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