How The ‘Rotarian Promotional Modern Art Exhibit’ Will Help Rotary Grow – Chapter One
By Derek Rickwood, BFA
For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed helping others. While studying fine art at college then later in university, I used my relationships as my main subjects.
While I was in university, I fell in love with Lisa Langerak. We were both completing our Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. After dating for a couple of years, Lisa and I moved to Nanaimo in 1990, where we decided to settle down and were married in 1991. We have three wonderful grown-up sons: Dane, Dilan, and Dion.
At this time, I wanted to join a local Rotary club. Before I could reach out to join a club, I was approached by Bruce Coleman of the Rotary Club of Nanaimo North to join his Rotary club – a club I’m pleased to say I still belong to today.
Like most artists, I decided not to pursue my main passion, art, to raise my family; instead, I focused on developing my menswear career. On the side, I wanted to create oil paintings with a purpose, so I became a commission painter. A service I still do today.
I finally embarked on my first fine art project in 1997, a project about courtship, based on a book written by Dr. Paul Dobransky. His work on the steps to a successful courtship inspired me to create my first fine art exhibition that would help society, particularly young adults. To provide vital information about courting as they embark on their lives.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t devote enough time to this art project because I was swamped running my menswear store and raising a young family. This fine art project ended up taking me ten years to be ready to set a date to exhibit in Manhattan, NY.
In January 2017, with the help of Ylenia Mino, a Rotaractor and artist living and working in Manhattan at this time, I was ready to rent a location. However, it was too late for me to continue using the material from Dr. Dobransky’s book for an exhibit. Dr. Paul said his material in the final courtship stage would need to be updated, and he did not want me to use the material in his book. I told him I understood and respected his decision.
I’m happy to say that Ylenia now lives in LA and is a Rotarian from the LA5 Rotary Club of Los Angeles; she is developing her art career, and we stay in touch as much as possible and will work we each other one day.
My Contemporary Art Exhibition Story
Thinking of the future, I thought, what should I do now? What subject do I consider essential to humanity? I needed to focus on something I have experience with and believe in, and the answer came quickly…. Rotary. It felt so right!
I started thinking about ideas and ways to promote and help Rotary globally.
With my years involved with Rotary, I concluded Rotary needs to be promoted to Non/Rotarians and young people.
I also wanted to incorporate a new and exciting fine art concept I devised in 1992; I wanted to promote these new ideas to a world audience. Rotary International’s convention in Toronto, Canada, would be perfect. Instead of introducing myself as an artist in Manhattan, where I’d be mostly invisible, I could share my fine art with my more prominent Rotary family at the convention.
My original contemporary art concept would involve different art disciplines and, more importantly, develop positive results after the exhibition.
So, I started thinking of a unique fine art design that would incorporate my new art concept set to represent Rotary efforts locally and internationally: this art design would be mobile and easily reach different audiences.
Rotarian Promotional Contemporary Art Exhibit’ shown displayed at the RI 2018 Convention House of Friendship in Toronto, Canada.
To promote and represent Rotary internationally and with our RI Foundation, I would incorporate RI’s six areas of focus as paintings and use an earth globe and hand shapes of different races to symbolize our planet’s human diversity.
Although I put my first contemporary art project about courtship on hold, its design layout influenced my new Rotarian contemporary art exhibit. This new installation that did not need walls and completely original, with no reference to any artist in the world.
Each painting imaged was carefully chosen to evoke an emotion. On the back of each painting, I wrote an artist statement explaining why I chose the painting’s image.
I thought I’d share them with you. They are as follows….
- ‘Promoting Peace’ – I enjoyed the magnificent dove flying in the windy sky managing to hold an olive branch: the ideal universal symbol for peace.
- ‘Fighting Disease’ – I loved the close-up profile of the innocent looking child being given medicine by the caring hands of an adult.
- ‘Providing Clean Water, Sanitation & Hygiene’ – I was moved by the pure joy and relief in the girl’s facial expression capturing the clean water.
- ‘Saving Mothers & Children’ – I enjoyed selecting this beautiful view of a mother’s affection for her child. It didn’t need to be in colour.
- ‘Supporting Education’ – Being able to learn at school will help open new positive opportunities for students and their families.
- ‘Growing Local Economies’ – This woman appears to be both confident and proud to be working.
When I thought of how to showcase my art project to an audience, I realized booth space was not the best space to showcase my entire fine art concept. People attending an International Rotary Convention would not be expecting to see a new contemporary art exhibition, let alone a new type of exhibit.
But I felt this was a great venue to show something new.
I was pleased to share my new art concept with a new art friend, Karen Sims, who I met recently at a local, new gallery opening. She is a multitalented artist: a singer, proficient in several string instruments including the violin, a composer, and a visual artist-illustrator. I asked her to join me and was pleased she was excited to join me. I showed her what I was creating and how Rotary inspired me to create my multi-media installation. I explained what Rotary is and asked her to look up and research more about Rotary at our RI website and find inspiration to create her new music. She did her homework and composed and performed five fantastic; original songs later played during the exhibition.
The experience at our International Rotary Convention was phenomenal!
There were over 25,000 Rotarians in attendance; it was exciting to meet so many humanitarians. I was hoping to find someone who shared my vision – my purpose. Most of those who interacted with me were drawn to the different paintings and how the painting’s images could be used for fundraising.
It should be noted that I’m inspired by the numerous humanitarian stories I read in the Rotary magazine each month. I wanted to use my art to connect, educate and inspire and bring about positive change in the world. My Rotarian fine art exhibit has multi-purposes as there are different audiences.
After the fourth day of the convention, I met a special Rotarian who shared my vision – David Elizalde and his wife, America! David saw the exhibit’s full potential, and he truly understood my mission! He got it!
David saw ways the fine exhibit could help his Rotary District 5730 foundation and RI’s Foundation. He was looking forward to becoming the next President of the Rotary Club of Amarillo, Texas. From viewing the exhibit and listening to me, David’s wheels turned on the best way to use and introduce the exhibit.
He decided to share his ideas with his District Governor, who was also at the convention: Outgoing District Governor Charles Starnes and Incoming District Governor Dan Linebarger. I had the pleasure to meet up with both men the next day and last day of the convention, and during the evening, we had a wonderful meal together. As a new Rotary President, David discovered a unique way to promote Rotary and raise funds for his District Foundation and RI Foundation. David wanted to introduce the Rotarian promotional fine exhibit back in Texas during a special occasion later in the fall of 2018.
As life has it, this presentation was delayed. Almost a year later, on Saturday, May 4th, 2019, David’s District Conference was chosen as the special occasion to introduce the now named Rotary Club of Amarillo ‘Rotarian Promotional Fine Art Exhibit’. David and I wanted to unveil the unique fine art exhibit, especially those attending the District 5730 conference.
District Governor 5730 (2018/19) Dan Linebarger, is shown here unveiling the Rotarian Promotional Contemporary Art Exhibit at his year end conference Saturday, May 4th, 2019.
The Contemporary Art Exhibits Purpose
The two main purposes of our Rotary fine art exhibit are:
First to promote and educate Rotary efforts throughout the world to help Rotary Grow and
Secondly, to raise funds for Rotary from the sale of prints of the paintings used in ‘Rotarian Promotional Contemporary Art Exhibit’ and the sale of replicas of the entire exhibit.
All the net proceeds will go back to Rotary.
We want to present to as many different audiences as possible: all levels of schools, public events, and all Rotary activities.
It has been a wonderful experience developing a personal, business, and Rotarian relationship with David Elizalde. We wish to thank his District Governor, Dan Linebacker, for his overwhelming support since meeting him and his wife, Kim, at the RI convention last year and his conference team members on behalf of David and myself.
Dan gave Derek time to speak to the attendees and prepare them to unveil the ‘Rotarian Promotional Modern Art Exhibit’ after his speech.
After the unveiling, Derek invited the audience to see the exhibit’s products displayed at the House of Friendship.
Derek created special exhibit products for sale, including a unique miniature replica one quarter the size he meticulously designed – with all sales net proceeds going back to Rotary.
The ‘Rotarian Promotional Modern Art Exhibit’ formal introduction has happened. The exhibit has to prove its worth – it needs to establish its value and purpose to Rotarians.
The contemporary art exhibit needs to be seen by many as people as possible! It needs to be presented and interacted with the Rotarian leaders at the club and RI level. When it’s safe to, it will also be used at public events especially with young people of all ages in all school levels.
The Rotarian Promo Art Is a Cause Art Plus Project!
David and Derek are created a comprehensive Rotary business plan to implement the first unique Cause Art Plus project. An art movement recently founded. They both agreed that all net proceeds will go to The Rotary Foundation.
Derek will manage the art exhibitions, the marketing, and the sale of the reproductions. The sale proceeds will go into a US business account managed by David.
The Rotarian Promo Art Website
It was decided early on that a website would be created to use to help market the club project. David knew an excellent web master, Walter Steelman, owner of 11 marketing + Design. He asked Walter to create an art website with help of Derek.
A short name that could be easy to remember and that could be used for website’s domain name needed to be decided. The decision to use Rotarian Promo Art was chosen!
They were hoping to get more feedback from Rotarians participating at the RI’s 2020 International Convention In Hawaii.
The website was finally ready in August 2020. The Rotarian Promo Art Project was ready to initiate virtually throughout the world. The Next Public Viewing – RI’s 2020 International Convention In Hawaii
David and Derek wanted to show the exhibit to as many Rotarians as possible, so they planned to present it at RI’s International Convention in Hawaii in 2020. Unfortunately, the world COVID-19 pandemic prevented this from happening.
Without the possibility of showing the exhibit publicly until it was safe to do so during the pandemic, connecting with Rotarians worldwide and opening opportunities would need to be done virtually had to be done using all means safely possible.
Make the Exhibit a Household Name
The fine art exhibit was designed to represent all things Rotary. The pandemic has made it difficult for public interaction. However, the art products derived from the exhibit may be used to raise funds for their virtual fundraiser or as gifts.
When it’s finally safe to do so, a club may use the art exhibit reproductions for many events – whether it’s on display during a club meeting or fundraisers or public events when it is safe to do so.
Gifts derived from the fine art exhibit may be created and used for guest speakers or for those in the community who support Rotary. There are numerous other ways with Rotary’s vast world network that this exhibit can find its way into offices and homes throughout the world while helping Rotary grow across the globe.
Stay tuned while the ‘Rotarian Promotional Modern Art Exhibit’ progresses over the coming weeks and months. Hopefully, you will see it up close, and it helps your club!
Get a Reproduction
Putting this project together was about more than just making paintings. The idea is to spread awareness of Rotary causes, so the proceeds go toward that as well. Win / Win!