In Vancouver and Toronto, a pair of fundraisers, Artists for Water, both of which were hosted by and in support of Swim Drink Fish, an organization who’s mission is to connect people with swimmable, drinkable and fishable water, took place April 13 and May 18 respectively. More than 200 supporters on the west coast gathered at Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia for a cocktail reception, music performances (Dan Mangan was the headliner), a keynote address by six-time Stanley Cup winner and five-time NHL all star Kevin Lowe (he’s also on the board of directors for the org). The big draw of the evening was an art auction led by Stephen Ranger of Ranger Wine (he also did the gavel work for the Toronto auction).
Artists for Water has, for more than a decade, engaged artists of all mediums from across Canada who give works (some 250 thus far) which are then auctioned for the cause. This year in Vancouver creators including Dana Claxton, Gavin Lynch, Colleen Heslin and Kent Monkman were among them who gave substantial pieces which helped to raise more than $300,000 for the cause at the Vancouver event. In Toronto a few weeks later, a couple hundred guests were in attendance at the gathering held at The Globe and Mail Centre, where works by Ari Bayuaji, Alex Bierk and Renée Condo helped the org hit and an impressive $500,000 in funds raised. There too in Toronto were a handful of performances, including ones by Daniel Lanois, Tom Wilson and the band Shaye and a keynote address by photographer and Swim Drink Fish ambassador Edward Burtynsky.
Luxury waterside purveyor Beau Lake also collaborated on a limited-edition collection of surfboards featuring the works of artists Christi Belcourt, Douglas Coupland, Graham Gillmore and Joe Fleming.
The monies raised will help a variety of Swim Drink Fish initiatives including the Swim Guide, theswimguide.org, an online portal that allows the public to understand water conditions before taking a dip, and the restoration of the Fraser River and its watershed. Key to the organization is what they call “water literacy,” which is about empowering the public to have a better understanding of the water around them.
Among them out in Vancouver: doctor duo Victor Moisseev and Eli Akbari; Lauren Brown Hornor, a founding member of Swim Drink Fish Canada, and Bruce Langereis, president of Delta Land Development, a founding sponsor of the event; and in Toronto: artist Linda Martinello, who donated a work; Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee of the Anishinabek Nation who delivered opening remarks; and members of the curatorial team charged with selecting the work, including filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, Art Gallery of Hamilton CEO Shelley Falconer, RBC curator Stefan Hancherow; and of course Mark Mattson, the president of Swim Drink Fish.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect affiliation for auctioneer Stephen Ranger. This version has been updated.