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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Toronto shul hosts Out of the Cold art show

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One of the pieces painted by an Out of the Cold art program participant.

TORONTO — Beth Sholom Synagogue, the location for a weekly Out of the Cold program the shul hosts with Beth Tzedec Congregation, will also be the venue for an upcoming art show and sale featuring works by participants in the program.

Out of the Cold is a volunteer-run program based in churches and synagogues that provides food and shelter to the homeless.

Marni Wolf, a 25-year-old who works for a non-profit organization that puts together photo exhibits for charities, said that about 15 participants take part in the art program. She runs it with her friend Melanie Cheskes, a 27-year-old painter and social work student.

Most weeks, about 150 Out of the Cold guests, as they are referred to, show up at Beth Sholom for a hot meal, access to donated clothing, a bed and a boxed lunch for the next day, Wolf said.

The art exhibit will begin this weekend with an opening reception on Sunday (April 22) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will run from April 22 to 26.

Admission is “pay what you can,” and proceeds will go to the artists as well as to the Out of the Cold program. Organizers suggest a donation of $5.

Wolf said that the paintings are all “affordable.” Last year, the art show’s second year, paintings sold for $35 each. Prices had not yet been finalized when Wolf spoke to The CJN.

She noted that one of the artists, Winston, is no longer homeless, but still comes to paint and is planning to donate any proceeds he would receive from the sale of his art to the program.

In a letter he wrote that Wolf shared, Winston described the circumstances that led to his being homeless, including a lengthy recovery from a work injury and an inability to continue paying his rent. He wrote that there is “always light at the end of the tunnel… [and] a lot of good people willing and ready to help.”

In the art program, participants paint, chat and laugh together, Wolf said. “It’s a really warm, comforting space for people to be creative, and they might not [otherwise] have access to those kinds of materials.”

Subjects include “beautiful landscapes” and “beaches and far-away exotic places that they dream of,” Wolf said.

As well, she added,  “a lot paint abstract [art.] They take bright colours and put them on canvas.”

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