My brain is thinking wonderful colour. It is like a colourful design; beautiful colour. My mind sees crystal light dancing shoes. The shapes are my brain. I paint them with my imagination. I paint my imagination on the canvas. It’s about my life story, to colour the whole world. It is classical crystal diamond glitter dancing shoes–my own life story.
About The ArtistIrene Beck is a fifty eight year old visual arts artist with Down Syndrome. She is one of the founding artists of H’Art of Ottawa art studio. Her accomplishments and contribution to the visual arts community are outstanding.
H’Art of Ottawa is a unique and innovative, non-profit curriculum-based art and literacy program for over forty adults with developmental disabilities. Irene has come to the sun-filled art studio twice a week, year round, since it’s inception in September 2002. As one of the original artists/participants, Irene’s artistic and creative skills and sensibility have grown and developed significantly. Here in the studio, she enthusiastically embraces the creative process with outstanding results.
Irene is a bright, lively, curious, outgoing and exceptional person and artist. These attributes are clearly reflected in her colourful, whimsical and thoughtful works of art. Through visual art, Irene has discovered a language that has opened up doors, giving herself and others with developmental disabilities a sense of place in the greater Ottawa community and beyond, bridging the world of people with disabilities and the larger community.
Irene’s paintings and her dedication to developing her self-expression have resulted in significant artistic achievement, an outstanding fund-raising achievement and outstanding contribution to the visual arts community, particularly that of the artists and people with disabilities.
H’Art of Ottawa Studio is a non-profit organization that relies on community support and funding. Through the studio’s revenue sharing program, the artists receive a percentage of the painting sales. As seeking funding for the program is an ongoing process for the studio, we develop annual greeting and Christmas cards based on the paintings. In August 2005, Gowling, Lafleur and Henderson, Canada’s second largest law firm chose Irene’s painting “Snowy Houses, Winter Stories” as their annual Christmas card. 48,000 cards were ordered and printed and each Goslings lawyer, world wide, received 25 cards to distribute to clients of their choice. Irene’s painting brought H’Art of Ottawa over $60,000 in fund-raising revenue. Her image helped to sustain an ever-growing organization that continues to provide excellent and innovative opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. In 2005 Irene was nominated for the Jane Cameron Award, a national award given to an artist of distinction. Irene did not win the award but the judges awarded her an Honorable Mention Certificate, for the quality of her work.
In 2006 Irene was presented with the Celebration of People “Artistic Excellence Award”. Celebration of People marked the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons and honoured 11 individuals and organizations whose innovations and vision create opportunities for people with disabilities to live, work and play in our community. Irene was one of them.
Through visual art she has given all adults with disabilities a voice and a presence in the greater community: One of Irene’s paintings was chosen for the exhibition “Band of Outsiders” at Galerie Saw Gallery, Ottawa, “A refreshing look at the influences of outsider art on contemporary art practices and expanding upon the definition of outsider art, the exhibition includes a wild array of contemporary, folk, intuitive and naive art, displaying the personal and visionary work of 13 emerging and established artists from the Ottawa and Gatineau regions. She was recognized by Ottawa Mayor Chiarelli at The Mayor’s Art Festival where her work was selected by a jury–over 400 high profile artists from the Ottawa area applied and only 150 were chosen. She hosted Max Keeping from CJOH in the studio, where he shadowed her during “In My Shoes”.
She has exhibited her paintings in over 35 exhibitions throughout the city of Ottawa: Gallery Four Seven Nine, Centrepointe Theatre Gallery, Gloucester Gallery, Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s Estate where thousands of people saw her work during the annual garden party, The Bagel Shop, The Green Door Restaurant etc.
Her commitment to excellence inspires us all. The barriers of a disability do not stop Irene. Apart from H’Art Studio, Irene has worked and volunteered in different organizations, but art is her true passion. Through her visual art and artistic accomplishments, Irene Beck is a noteworthy and accomplished Canadian artist.
View more of Irene’s work at her H’Art of Ottawa page.