COLUMN: Local art abandoned around the world

The goal for the Arts Abandonment Project was to create and distribute 150 pieces of art.

To some, the idea of toiling away over a piece of art and then just leaving it somewhere probably sounds pretty crazy. Especially if you think about the amount of time and energy that can end up going into even the smallest piece of art.

To Sharon Kurtz, however, it had exactly the opposite effect. “I thought it was a really good idea,” she said.

Kurtz first heard of the idea, which is known as art abandonment, at an arts festival in the U.S. back in 2010 and it struck a chord with her. As with most good ideas, though, it would take a few years for Kurtz to find the idea a good home.

When the Summerland Community Arts Council began talking about ways to help celebrate Canada’s 150th year with art, Kurtz mentioned the idea of doing abandoning art to celebrate. Everyone loved the idea and Arts Abandonment Project was born.

The goal for the Arts Abandonment Project was to create and distribute 150 pieces of art in order to celebrate the 150 years that Canada has been a country. Things kicked off last fall during the Arts Council’s open house in October of last year and 32 pieces of art being produced by members of the community. To date, 100 pieces of art have been created and 80 of those have been abandoned around the world.

Anyone who is interested can be involved in the Arts Abandonment Project in a few different ways. You can come down to the Art Centre and get a canvas to create your art on—it doesn’t matter if you paint something on it, create something using fabric or do a collage, the sky is the limit. After you complete your piece and drop it off again at the Art Centre.

Your piece will then be numbered and wrapped up in a plastic bag (to protect the art if it gets abandoned outside) and then wrapped again in a brown paper. Along with the art, brochures and information promoting Summerland is included in the package as well as four different methods of contacting the art gallery to report where the art has turned up.

When it’s done, even those involved don’t know which piece of art is going where, which as Kurtz says, “Adds to the mystery of it all.”

If creating isn’t your thing, you can still be a part of the project by picking up a piece of art to abandon.

The results have been pretty impressive. Art has been distributed around the world, with letters and emails coming in from places such as Nepal, India, The Vatican, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and from across the United States. To help people see where the abandoned art has turned up, there’s a map at the Art Gallery with pins marking the countries where people have found the art.

If you’re interested in the Art Abandonment Project, you can find out more information by visiting the Arts Centre on Wharton St. Help Summerland spread art around the world.

Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician. If you know of a local arts and culture event, contact him at