September 26, 2020

BY WESLEY BUTLER

Some artists have gone years without being discovered, or even having their work displayed at a show. The Juried Exhibition in Cambridge is changing that, by allowing local artists to submit their work for display and professional critique.

The exhibition, in its 11th year, was started by a group of volunteers from the Cambridge Centre for the Arts, who hoped to assist artists in becoming well-known and successful. The opening reception was held on Oct. 19, and the exhibition will be open to the public until Nov. 17.

Usually over 110 to 120 pieces of art are submitted every year, from people who live in Waterloo Region. But for the last five or six years, only artists from Cambridge have submitted their work.

“There are some people who submit work every year, but there are always new people who were not aware of this that want work displayed,” said Sophie McCann, arts co-ordinator at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts. “It’s not always the exact same people, but there are those that we recognize.”

The volunteers at the centre believe there is a lot of great talent in Cambridge, but only a certain amount of space to display it. This year, professor Doug Kirton from the University of Waterloo acted as guest juror, awarding prizes for the best work.

Jose Lesandres, a woodworker at the David Durward Centre, which is next to the arts centre on Dickson Street,  was one of the prize winners. Lesandres mostly creates vases and tables, but had never submitted his work to an exhibition before, or even let his family look at his work. His colleagues saw one of his wooden vases and encouraged him to submit it to this year’s exhibition. Lesandres was stunned to find out he won an award, and felt he accomplished something huge.

“I’m really happy and proud that I submitted my work,” said Lesandres. “I don’t know if I’ll submit again, but I’m going to continue creating vases.”

The arts centre plans on running the exhibition for many years to come as a platform to showcase talent, because its volunteers think that a lot of people aren’t aware of the depth of talent that actually exists in Cambridge.

The exhibition has no restrictions, allowing amateurs, professional artists and children to enter. In 2009, a 16-year-old girl won an award for a painting she submitted.

“There’s no age limit on talent,” said McCann. “This is what pushes artists to work even harder.”