Meet Aparna, creator of Milton's ‘Appy Place, a place for all Art Lovers

Apart from art parties it is also a space to celebrate milestone events, birthdays, special occasions and for local art groups/artists to perform, practice, hold workshops, exhibitions, pop-up bazaars and much more.

Meet Aparna, creator of Milton's ‘Appy Place, a place for all Art Lovers

The first time I met Aparna it was at a private meeting with friends. We were all meeting for the first time and had gathered to share our passion for music. Aparna and her husband have a classic aura that feels nostalgic. The couple moved us by their singing bringing a life to the party. Aparna is well known for her contribution in community-engaged art and is an art instructor at the FirstOntario Arts Centre Milton. She has facilitated several community murals during Milton Culture Days and has also done commissioned murals in private establishments in town. It would be an understatement to say that Aparna is an ardent lover of arts! To nurture her passion and explore new horizons, Aparna launched a new venture The 'Appy Place an art studio a few weeks ago. We at Indo-Canadian Club reached out to Aparna to understand more about her life and future goals as an Artist.

Vandana:- Tell us more about your journey as an artist?

Aparna:- I was born and raised in Mumbai. Very early on my mother recognized that I was more right brained. She encouraged me to pursue art as a career which, was a pretty bold move as in those days children either got into science, engineering, accounts etc. It was due to her persistent encouragement that I graduated from the very prestigious Sir J. J. School of Art.

Vandana:- What inspires you to get up every morning? What makes you so creative?

Aparna:- While it has not been an easy journey walking down this path with a lot of second guessing, self-doubt or questioning some of the choices I made, I have so many kind souls around me like my mother who is my number one fan, my husband who picks me up every time I feel down, my kids, my friends and so many well-wishers who believe in me and my art. They are my inspiration to keep showing up every day and to keep creating!

Vandana:- You chose Arts for the Career, have you been always working in this sector? Did you work anywhere else and longed to continue your passion as an artist?

Aparna:- We moved to the middle east due to my husbands job soon after our first born and have spent a large part of my life there. While art has been a large part of my life I actively started my career in art here in Canada as I was raising a young family and worked for an events company in the middle east. In Dubai I reconnected with my passion and started teaching art to kids and adults. It led me to where I am today and to what I love doing teaching art and getting more people to experience the joy of art-making!

Vandana:- Tell us about your family, your roots and background. When did you arrive in Canada? How did you face the transition from one country to another? Did you find supporting people around you?

Aparna:- We are a family of 4, we moved to Canada when my daughter was getting into high school and my son was in middle school. It was quite hard on them to leave behind their comfortable surroundings, friends and adjust to a totally new environment. I am so proud at how well they handled this roller coaster ride. Our move to Milton was due to the nature of Sanjays job in sales that. I remember very clearly when after one year of renting in Mississauga we were looking for a home to grow roots and settle down my husband suggested looking at Milton which, he thought we would all like to buy our first home due to its cultural diversity. All four of us decided to spend a Saturday afternoon in Milton and fell in love with this town instantly. I am so happy that our very first home that weve owned is here in Milton!

Vandana:- There must be tons of people who supported you in your journey, any particular person or moment you would like to share?

Aparna:- On the weekend that we moved to Milton, both my husband and I decided to walk to the Milton Centre for the Arts now called FirstOntario Arts Centre Milton to explore the facility and ran into Arts Milton board members, who were hosting and facilitating activities for Culture Days a nation-wide arts and culture event. Both my husband and I are extremely passionate about arts and have always been involved in the process of either art making and/or bringing it to the audiences rather than being in the audience, right from our university days. The enthusiasm and passion to bring arts and culture to the community resonated with us and we signed up right there for the Arts Milton membership. Besides, what could be a better way to feel a part of and integrate into the community than being involved in such events that bring people together to share and enjoy arts and culture. Soon we were invited to be on the board of Arts Milton and were able to actively participate in organizing arts and culture activities in Milton.

Apart from Arts Milton, I was also involved with the Fine Arts Society of Milton FASM which helped me grow as an artist, giving me opportunities to showcase my art. When Milton hosted the cycling events during the PAN AM games in 2015, the FASM board decided to make a legacy mural to commemorate the games and the board entrusted me with conceptualizing and designing this mural.

Over the last five years I have been fortunate to be on the board of Arts and Culture Initiative of South Asia (ACISA) as a Festival Director and was instrumental in launching the Visual Arts of South Asia (VASA) - Arts Festival to introduce the unique flavour of South Asian art to art enthusiasts in Canada by showcasing South Asian influenced art created by Canadian artists from different cultures.

Vandana:- Talk to us about The 'Appy Place. How did that come to reality? When did you weave the dream of having your establishment?

Aparna:- The 'Appy Place is a dream that both my husband and I have nurtured ever since our art school days. Its a place not only for artists or only for kids but for anyone who wants to experience making art regardless of their age. A few years ago we used to do art parties at a local restaurant in Milton, which received an overwhelming response. With The 'Appy Place I am excited to re-launch the art parties with new themes, concepts and experiences and look forward to igniting the passion for art and to address the most commonly used phrase I have never held a brush in my life before, by giving them a comfortable space, tools and knowledge to create their masterpieces. Apart from art parties it is also a space to celebrate milestone events, birthdays, special occasions and for local art groups/artists to perform, practice, hold workshops, exhibitions, pop-up bazaars and much more.

Vandana:- Your future goals and what makes you happy?

Aparna:- My future plans involve making The 'Appy Place an artistic hub for the community where art can be a part of everyday life. It brings me absolute joy to teach art and to see them enjoying the process and are no longer intimidated by the thought of creating art!

Vandana:- Any challenging event or experience as you started your own venture?

Aparna:- While Challenges are what makes us innovative and forces us to PIVOT which the favourite word in todays time, I would certainly like the pandemic situation to be less challenging considering I have just opened up The 'Appy Place.

Written by Vandana Raj Bhatt