Grand Prix of Art returning to Steveston

·3 min read

The annual Grand Prix of Art is returning to Steveston this year, following last year’s virtual event.

But the beloved community event, taking place Sept. 4, will have a few changes to account for a still-changing pandemic situation. Instead of 120 artists, organizer Mark Glavina says there will be no more than 80. And artists will get a bagged prepared lunch instead of the large meal that’s usually provided.

There will be 30 locations instead of the usual 40, concentrated along the waterfront rather than within Steveston village where pedestrian traffic could be impeded.

There remain three categories—masters, adult and youth—and the location lottery will still happen, although in advance via a virtual draw.

“People can walk the length of the waterfront, (but) this year it’ll probably be a smaller wingspan,” says Glavina.

Artists will begin with staggered time windows, the first group starting at 9:30 a.m. followed by two more 30 minutes apart. Glavina says it will still have the feel of a sporting event, with artists required to return their completed works before the four-hour deadline. Pieces will then be displayed for members of the public and judges, who will award prizes. Pieces are sold, with the majority of the profits going directly back to the artists. In 2019, over $20,000 went back into the artists’ hands.

“My original idea in the first place (was) to celebrate artists like we do athletes, and slowly we’re coming around,” says Glavina. “I think recognition of artists is the first step, and the recognition and mentorship of top artists is also really important and something young people or other artists that are developing can look up to. There are some pretty amazing artists that participate, (and) we should hold up their work as rockstars, because they are at the top of their field.”

Many artists come back to the event year after year, while the intensity of the format doesn’t work for others. Glavina says it takes a lot of courage to participate, particularly in the masters category where some artists might be used to working from a photograph, projecting images onto canvas or spending a long time on each piece.

“The truth is that there’s no faking it in my opinion,” says Glavina. “The masters that can paint in this environment can paint in any environment.”

He adds that it’s a great learning tool to be able to create from what’s in front of you, and learning from observation can help artists in training. Judging is based on technical aspects, creativity and uniqueness, as well as how successful the representation of location is.

“Sometimes we get really great technical painters, but there’s no mood or feeling in their work. They might score well for handling their medium well, but they score low on capturing the mood of the day. On the other side, there are people who knock it out of the park with that (mood), but their painting lacks the technical finesse.”

And although this year’s event is yet to happen, plans are already afoot for next year’s 10th anniversary celebration—originally scheduled for 2020, and now twice delayed.

“We have guest instructors coming from all over the world to teach the art of plein air painting,” says Glavina. “It’ll be a week-long festival with multiple types of activities leading towards the Grand Prix, (including) workshops and panel discussions.”

To learn more about the Grand Prix of Art, visit

Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel

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