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More than $1,300 up for grabs in Burns Lake art contest


How much is an 8” x 8” art canvas worth?

According to the Lakes District Museum Society, it depends on what that canvas contains. Rembrandt van Rijn’s 1630 self-portrait, which measures about 6” by 5”, is worth more than $50 million. Granted, the piece was painted on copper, but it’s not the medium that matters. The subject and artist make it valuable.

Artists can purchase blank 8”x8” canvases from the museum society this summer for $5 as part of the GR8-by-8 Art Project. (Museum society members get their first canvas free.) They will have four months to turn it into an artwork worthy of the competition’s $500 grand prize.

The GR8-by-8 Art Project is a fundraiser for the museum’s new Heritage Gallery at 540 Highway 16 West in Burns Lake. Artists have until October 20 to create a two-dimensional artwork (painting, sketch, photo, etc.) on an 8”x8” canvas and donate it to the Lakes District Museum. The works will be displayed online and at the Heritage Gallery, judged by a three-person jury, and then sold to the highest bidder at an auction in November.

The contest is open to creators of all ages, and more than $1,300 will be up for grabs in three age divisions, Museum Curator Michael Riis-Christianson said last week.

Riis-Christianson said last summer’s Search for Burns Lake Centennial Artist was a great success, but some artists were intimidated by its “painting in public” component. GR8-by-8 participants won’t be required to paint outdoors while others watch.

“The Search for Burns Lake’s Centennial Artist was a tough competition,” he noted. “Artists had to work their magic outside in four hours while people watched them. They also had to paint what they could see from their stations. The GR8-by-8 Art Project is more laid-back. Artists will have time this year to create anything without an audience.”

Riis-Christianson hopes that the competition’s liberal rules will encourage increased participation.

“Artists are often introverts who work best in solitude,” he noted. “They will be able to do that this year, and their identities will be kept secret until after the auction, so there’s no excuse for not entering. We’d like to see between 30 and 50 people participate.”

“Although we’re hoping this event raises some money for the new Heritage Gallery, it’s really about giving artists a reason to create and an opportunity to showcase their work,” he concluded. “There are dozens of talented painters and photographers in the Lakes District capable of turning in an eight-by-eight artwork worth $500. And who knows? Maybe that piece, purchased for a few dollars at auction, will be a good investment for some lucky bidder. Rembrandt’s 1630 self-portrait originally sold for 35 florins – about 55 cents – but now it’s worth a million times more.”

Artists can purchase canvases and register for the GR8-by-8 Art Project at the Lakes District Museum. More information is also available by contacting the museum by telephone (250-692-7450) or email (