Spotlight on Genesis Centre & Artist Kevin-Barry Martin

Artist Kevin-Barry Martin (left) and the Genesis Centre’s Liam Flanagan at Genesis’ latest Pitch & Pick event.

When the Genesis Centre team wanted to inject some creative flair into their latest event, they knew exactly where to turn – the local arts community.

As the province’s pre-eminent innovation hub, the Genesis Centre revolves around collaboration, creating connections, business model development and providing technology start-ups with what they need so they can hit the ground running. At the Masonic Temple on April 30, at their latest Pitch & Pick event (which sees the top start-ups from Genesis’ Evolution program present their business ideas to a live audience), local visual artist Kevin-Barry Martin wowed the crowd with a live painting demonstration.

The seed for the idea was planted a while back says Liam Flanagan, Start-up Development Coordinator at Genesis, after a conversation with Business & Arts NL’s Executive Director Amy Henderson.

“What we wanted to do was bring in and celebrate entrepreneurship in a grander scope of things. We really only get to work with tech entrepreneurs, but we know there’s a lot of other entrepreneurs out there. So when Amy suggested that we bring in an artist to do a live art installation at one of our events, we thought that Pitch & Pick would be the perfect place to really put that plan into action,” Flanagan says.

Liam Flanagan addresses the crowd while Kevin-Barry Martin paints to the left.

Henderson reached out to a number of artists, who submitted portfolios of their work, with Genesis ultimately choosing Martin. Martin had previously spent time working out of the Atlantic Arts Space at the former Cora’s corral at Atlantic Place, so the team was familiar with and liked his work.

“And so that became the perfect arrangement where we were able to not only celebrate tech entrepreneurship at our event, but have a live demonstration of someone in the non-tech space – because we also had tech demos there at the same time, so it created a really interesting kind of counter balance,” Flanagan says.

During the event, Martin created his own spin on Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles” with a tech twist, adding a computer and tablet to the scene, as well as incorporating some of Genesis branding. The painting now hangs proudly at the Genesis office.

“It was really about combining something very old, so Van Gogh’s bedrooom, where there was no electricity, with something new,” Flanagan says.

“We had him doing the painting while all the pitches were going on, so there was always a dynamic presence, even when there was a bit of a break in between each presenter…there was never really a lull because Kevin-Barry was always painting and there was always something very stimulating to look at. I definitely think that our attendees saw a lot of value in it and really enjoyed seeing the painting come to its end stage,” he adds.

“The attendees were able to go and speak with him and learn about his process and what he does, and so I hope that he also got some valuable connections out of it as well.”

Flanagan says Genesis is now considering what they can do to collaborate with local artists for future events and get audiences more involved with the creative process. They recently partnered with the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council (RIAC) to host an exhibit by “Our Art Gallery,” and after purchasing the former Common Ground Coworking (now Genesis Coworking), they are expanding their reach to entrepreneurs outside of the tech space.

“We are trying to also learn from artists and speak with them to understand what they want out of a space, what would they love to see in a coworking space to help them with their entrepreneurial efforts,” Flanagan says.

“So we’re definitely trying to get more tied into the arts community here.”