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June is Membership Month at the Niagara Artists Centre, which means there’s no better time to sign up or renew your membership. In this Q&A, NAC’s Volunteer-of-the-Year and editor of The Sound Chris Illich talks about all the artists who inspire him, why being a part of Niagara’s art community is so great, and that time he got to ring the bell at Small Feats. Pick up your anniversary copy of The Sound today to get to hip to what’s what around town this month.

When did you become a NAC member and why?

I became a NAC member about five years ago because my honourary membership that Steve Remus said I had from high-school co-oping ran out. I’m glad it did. I wanted to support all the wonderful programming that the NAC provides.

Are you an artist, an art appreciator or both?

I think there’s a lot of ‘art’ in the things that I do and participate in, but I would never consider myself an artist. So, I guess I’m somewhere between an artist and an appreciator.

What’s the best thing about being an artist in Niagara?

The immense amount of talent that we have in the region really stands out. I’ve seen so many exhibitions/performances that have been absolutely captivating. It’s in those moments that you realize how special we are to live in such an artistic community.

Name a Niagara artist whose work knocks your socks off.

There are so many to name. I love the sensation of seeing a friend/peer/acquaintance’s beautiful work. Geoff Farnsworth’s work has such great style. Amber Lee William’s Blind Contour drawings are amazing to witness, and I also love Dylan Zdrobov’s Runt-inspired cartoons. I could go on and on… So I’ll stop here.

Tell us about a memorable NAC experience.

Again, there are just too many to name. But, most recently, I felt so much pride for the artists and the NAC when I rang that bell at Small Feats (and it was fun and obnoxious) this year when a piece of work sold. I could go on and on about this question too.There have been so many memorable moments that I’ve been around for and I’m very grateful for those experiences.

What’s the number one reason to become a NAC member?

Aside from all the great programming, there is such a great community surrounding the NAC. As a NAC member, I can’t believe how much support I have received from the team there and everyone surrounding them – and I know that I’m not the only one who feels that way.