Artists and art fans will be flocking to waterfront Steveston Village on Saturday, September 21 for one of Metro Vancouver’s coolest cultural happenings. The 9th annual Grand Prix of Art will see more than 100 creative-types from every skill level setting up their easels at designated outdoor spots throughout area—then painting whatever they see in front of them in a fascinating three-hour race against the clock.

Steveston Grand Prix of Art - Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca
Artists working against the clock. | Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca

Kicking off at 10:00am, visitors are invited to wander between the fevered artists, watching their creative processes as they craft unique art that might win a prize in one of three key categories: Masters, Open, and Youth. In this plein air competition, all paintings must be completed by the 1:00pm deadline.

The paintings will then be transported to the Seine Net Loft at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, where judging will be undertaken and winners announced. The public can view all the works at this free-entry art show from 3:00pm to 6:00pm on September 21 and from 12:00pm (noon) to 4:00pm on September 22. In addition, there’s a chance to vote in the People’s Choice Award—and purchase that painting you fell in love with while you watched it come to life.

Steveston Grand Prix of Art - Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca
The contest is an intense and highly creative challenge. | Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca

What time should I get to Steveston?

The competing artists will be arriving with their paints and equipment at the Britannia Shipyards site at 9:00am. A random draw will then be made to determine where each of them will be painting. At 10:00am, each artist will be in place and ready to start. Spectators can watch the artists in action around the village anytime between 10:00am and 1:00pm.

Where exactly will the artists be?

They will be divided between 40 different outdoor locations. These range from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and Steveston boardwalk to various Moncton Street spots. There will also be artists around London Landing and Imperial Landing Park. It won’t be hard to find them, but you can also check ahead via this handy location map on the event’s website. In addition, there will be three live music stages throughout the area to add to the festival atmosphere!

Steveston Grand Prix of Art - Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca
Many competitors find themselves with shoreline views to paint. | Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca

What kind of artists will be competing?

There will be more than 100 artists competing in the Grand Prix of Art, covering a wide array of ages and skill levels. Look out for up-and-comers in the Youth category (ages eight to 18) plus many intriguing beginners, intermediates, and working artists in the highly diverse Open category. The Masters category includes experienced painters from around the Pacific Northwest, each competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a chance to lift the coveted Dan Gray Cup.

Grand Prix of Art
A wide range of artistic styles will be on display. | Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca

Can you tell me more about these Masters?

With a wide array of Masters competing this year, this category will showcase many different artistic approaches. These range from Victoria-born impressionist Larry Tillyer to North Vancouver-based oils and acrylics specialist Louise Nicholson and celebrated landscape painter William Watt. The trick is to visit as many artists as you can—in each category—and discover their unique interpretations on the area.

Is it too late to enter as a competitor?

If you’re keen to dip your own brush into this highly creative contest you can still register—but you’ll have to hurry. The event’s registration will close when capacity is reached or at noon on September 17, 2019. Participant fees range from $20 to $40, including a post-painting lunch in the Seine Net Loft—click on this link to sign up. You can also register as an event volunteer using the same link (volunteers also receive lunch).

Grand Prix of Art
The works will be available for purchase after the event is over. Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca

Can I buy the paintings?

Yes! From 1:00pm on September 21, the Seine Net Loft becomes a post-painting party spot. There will be live music, the artists will be lunching, and the category winners will be announced.

At 3:00pm, the exhibition opens to the public and this will be your first opportunity to view all the works together. It’s also your big chance to purchase that painting you’ve fallen for: all the works will be for sale on a first-come-first-served basis and you can pick up your purchase at the exhibition’s close on September 22. Tip: if you have your heart set on a specific work, arrive early for a chance to buy it.

Steveston Grand Prix of Art - Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca
View all of the completed artwork at the end of the event. | Photo: www.artisanphotography.ca

Can I just look at the finished paintings?

Of course! The party will be concluded by 3:00pm on September 21, and the paintings will then remain on public display at the Britannia Shipyards until 6:00pm—or you can visit from 12:00pm (noon) to 4:00pm on September 22. Visitors will also be able to vote on their favourite works, and the winner of this People’s Choice Award will be announced before 4:00pm on September 22.

How do I get to the event?

If you’re planning to drive to the Grand Prix of Art, there is some limited parking at Britannia Shipyards. Alternatively, you can park in the heart of Steveston Village and stroll alongside the Fraser River directly to the Shipyards site. Better yet, ride your bike or plan a transit journey via the TransLink website.

Watch the video below for a recap of the 2018 event!