Local artist encourages youth to pursue art career

'Children should not be held back,' says Don Valley Art Club member

Vanaja Cotroneo with her artwork.
Streetcar paintings are often the most popular pieces at Don Valley Art Club shows. "There's something romantic about streetcars. They've been a part of Toronto for so many years," says member Vanaja Cotroneo. Jela Tejada/Toronto Observer

Vanaja Cotroneo remembers falling in love with art at a young age, but she did not pursue it until later in life because of her upbringing.

“As a kid, I did paint some, but it wasn’t something that was encouraged back home in India,” Cotroneo said. “It’s an expensive hobby, and my parents couldn’t afford it at the time. Academics were also more important to them, so that’s the route I took.”

Cotroneo has been painting for about 20 years now. Among other art clubs, she’s a member of the Don Valley Art Club, which opened its annual fall show on Nov. 14 at Todmorden Mills’ Papermill Gallery.


Don Valley Art Club show
The Don Valley Art Club's annual fall show will be running from Nov. 14 to 24.

Jela Tejada/Toronto Observer

Every year, one of Toronto’s oldest art club hosts two art shows, one in May and another in November. This show’s theme is, “Does Size Matter? Art in All Sizes.” The smallest piece is about 10 by 10 inches and the largest is approximately five feet tall and three feet wide.

“It’s a way for people to start collecting art. We’re really trying to reach out to young people,” said club president Susan Abbott. “We’re constantly promoting and encouraging people to buy real art. Live a real life. Own originals.”

Agnes Bae

Agnes Bae, who has sold her paintings internationally, joined the Don Valley Art Club last year. The piece behind her is called Beautiful Way to Talk. “Nowadays we don’t have conversations like we did before because of phones and social media,” Bae says.. (Jela Tejada/Toronto Observer)

The club currently has about 200 members. Many are retirees who have decided to work on their art full-time.

“Our members come from different walks of life with different experiences, so we’re always learning from each other,” said Georgia Bowen, chair of the art show committee.

“In this country there’s absolutely no reason why art couldn’t be encouraged,” Cotroneo said. “Go with it. Fly with it. If that’s what makes your heart sing, go for it.”

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Posted: Nov 20 2018 8:13 am
Filed under: News