‘The intimacy is really motivating’: Saskatoon Bunkhouse looks for new artists

Aarin Rinas, Painter at the Bunkhouse. Slavo Kutas - Global News

The city of Saskatoon is looking for new artists to take up residence in the Bunkhouse located in the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo. Aarin Rinas is a painter and currently one of six artists in residence.

The project named Artists in Place: The Bunkhouse Project got started in 2015 when the manager of the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo approached the city with a proposal. He offered up the old Bunkhouse building, which is over 100 years old, to support the art community in Saskatoon. In 2017 after some renovating and cleaning all the piled-up storage, the building was ready to house six artists to unleash their creative energies.

The artists don’t live in the house and they have to leave when the park closes.

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Aarin Rinas applied for a spot and the committee approved him. It gave him a place where he can go to focus on his art for nine months.

“I love it here. This is such a nice residency, because it is nice and long. Nine months is pretty long for an artist residency.”

Rinas went to the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 2000’s. However, he did not become a professional artist immediately.

“I basically took a 20-year break from art. I became a carpenter and started a family. It was three or four years ago that I started doing art professionally,” Rinas explains.

Rinas’ figure paintings are filled with character and emotion, resulting in expressive faces.

When asked if he would ever sell any of his paintings he laughs: “I mean, I would like to, but it is not the focus of my labour. I paint because I want to get better at painting. Sometimes I do art exhibits, but most of the time my paintings stand on the floor in my studio and I don’t mind it that way.”

For Rinas, the most satisfying aspect of the residency was the collaboration with the other resident artists he met.

“I need things like this to keep me motivated and keep me moving forward in my art, it helps me to challenge myself. Making contacts and talking to other artists about your art really expands your horizons. I think it is the intimacy of this place that really motivates everyone.”

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Rinas will stay as artist in residence until April. After that a new group of artists will move in.

“The call is open for any Saskatoon based artist to apply for a spot,” explains Kathy Allen, Arts & Grants Consultant for the city of Saskatoon, who oversees the project in the Bunkhouse.

Unfortunately, the next term will not be the full nine months of residency, because of planned construction in September.

Allen says that the city accepts any kind of artist: “We have had musicians, filmmakers, theater groups, sculptors, painters, and writers all take up residency here. If you make art, you are welcome here.”

For artists who are not in need of an art studio, the Bunkhouse also offers a space for art exhibits that is freely available for anyone during the weekends. “All we ask is that you clean up after you are done with it, ” Allen added.

Anyone who is interested in applying for the artist-in-residence program can do so through the city of Saskatoon website. Deadline is 23rd of January.

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