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  • Artist Elfrida Schragen’s art show—originally planned for May—is online now, with all proceeds helping those in deep need during the Covid-19 crisis.

    Mollie Kaye


    Lorna Crozier—poetess oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches


    Portraits of Victoria women raise funds for Our Place

    AS I COLLECTED MY PICK-UP ORDER of groceries last week at the new Save-on Foods at Pandora Avenue, I was amazed to see what looked like over 100 tents, erected for many blocks along the boulevard, centred around Our Place. To adhere to provincial social distancing requirements, all homeless shelters are currently operating at a fraction of their initial, pre-pandemic capacity. Hence, the immediate support and protection of this vulnerable population has become a grave concern, according to Steven Seltzer, events and fundraising coordinator for Our Place.

    “The need is greater; people are trying to survive through this without the normal supports,” he says. “We’ve tried to adapt as best we can; instead of people coming in to get the help at Our Place…we’re feeding them outside, the paramedics are out and about. We’re lacking some of the ordinary funding we normally get—businesses would come in, serve a meal and sponsor, but that’s not happening, so obviously we’re looking for alternate ways to raise funds to run four shelters.”

    To contribute to this need (though she began well before the pandemic), portrait artist Elfrida Schragen has created a series of paintings capturing the spirit and achievements of 40 of Victoria’s most accomplished and influential women as a fundraiser for Our Place. An “online gallery” at www.hibid.ca/events/admired must now stand in for the physical exhibition originally envisioned at the Bay Centre. The official show begins April 9 and runs through June 30. All donated funds will go directly to Our Place, and donors will receive charitable receipts.

    “I love to do portraits,” Schragen says. “People don’t commission portraits of themselves very often; it’s seen as self-centred. So I thought maybe I could do this for a reason, and people would feel more comfortable.” Subjects include Focus’ own Leslie Campbell, dance maven Lynda Raino, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, choral conductor Shivon Robinsong, and Victoria Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, among others.



    Bernice Kamano—support for homeless Indigenous oil on panel, 28 x 22 inches



    Carole Sabiston—textile artist oil on canvas, 28 x 24 inches


    “Everyone is in need of money right now,” Schragen acknowledges. “People are trying to be generous.” While the portraits can be purchased outright for $1000 by either the subject or a group, donations in the name of each portrait subject are being collected online as a way to honour the diverse contributions of these female community leaders—while directing funds where they’re needed most during the COVID-19 crisis. “It’s not an auction, it’s more like, 'I want to donate to Our Place, let’s put it as a donation toward this particular painting;’ it’s like a support system.”

    All of the paintings are either 22 by 28 inches, or 24 inches square. “I took the photographs and then put in the background they each wanted, composing as I went,” Schragen says of the deft, impressionist images. “I wanted them to okay the portrait before I made it public in any way. We had lots of fun.”

    To view the exhibit see www.hibid.ca/donate/admired

    You can view Elfrida Schragen’s website at www.elfridasart.com


    Mollie Kaye writes and performs parodies of ’40s and ’50s songs. She also is the vintage-clad performer behind “Turned-out Tuesdays” (see www.theyearofdressup.com)—now with a home-made mask.

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