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City grants opening doors for local artists

Growing a local arts community takes support from all over. One local airbrush artist says that supports includes things like grants similar to the ones recently awarded by the city of Grande Prairie.

Daniel Sanchez began working with an airbrush kit he got from a craft store 12 years ago and its grown into his passion. He says growing up in Grande Prairie he didn’t think there was much of an art scene. He spent time working as a mechanic but says he knew that wasn’t the life for him. He found a training program in South Carolina and he knew he had to go.

“I was like you know what, I am done with this mechanic stuff. I hate it. And I just decided to pursue this and I invested in [the training] and I just found a way to do it.”

He then spent some time in Edmonton honing his craft but he came back to GP about three years ago. Since he’s returned he says he realized he was missing out.

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“Now that I’m trying to get plugged into the community I found that there actually is an art community in Grande Prairie. I just didn’t know anybody.”

As he works to grow those local connections they have already started to pay off. On the advice of a friend Sanchez decided to apply to the city for grant funding.

“The truth is I knew about it last year but I didn’t think that I would be the one, right? So I’m like I’m just going to wait. And then this year I just figured worst case scenario they say there is no funding or no.”

Sanchez was one of eight people who submitted applications for the most recent round Arts Development Funding, four of the projects were awarded funding. Applications are accepted by the city twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring.

Sanchez’s funding will go towards an educational trip to Mexico City where he will train with world renowned airbrush artist Ivan Loperena. Sanchez says he has admired his work for a long time and he’d been wanting to reach out to him.

“I contemplated it and my wife was like you know you should just message him and see what he says. I messaged him and literally the very first response I got from him was this is my cell phone number, call me.”

Turns out Loperena was already familiar with Sanchez’s work and he personally invited him to come train with him. Loperena teaches an introductory course at an art school in Mexico City but Sanchez will be learning with him one on one and even staying with the artist. Sanchez plans to travel at the end of May. He says without the funding he would have had to postpone the trip for now.

He is already working to pay it forward to the local community as well. Sanchez is teaching classes part-time at the Centre for the Creative Arts. He hopes to work as an instructor full-time in the future.

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