Information about my second Cause Art Plus Project ‘Rotary Youth Programs Services Contemporary Art Exhibit’

Multimedia – Wood, Styrofoam, Oil on Canvas
4′ W X 4′ L X 6’8″ T

To explain this Cause Art Plus project, I will use a full excerpt from my Rotary 5020 District News first virtual monthly magazine August 2019 edition. I am honoured to have one of my paintings from my Rotary exhibit on the front page. Thanks to my fellow Rotarian and magazine editor,  Caleb Summerfelt, for making this happen.


To understand why I created my second unique Rotary fine art exhibit, I think it would be essential to tell you a little about myself and my first Rotarian fine art exhibit.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed helping others. While studying fine art at college and later in university, I used my relationships as my main subjects.

While in university, I fell in love with a fellow student, Lisa Langerak. We were both completing our Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. After dating for a couple of years, we moved to Nanaimo in 1990, where we decided to settle down; we were married in 1991. We have three wonderful grown-up sons: Dane, Dilan, and Dion.

During this time, I wanted to join a local Rotary club. Before I could reach out to join a club, I was approached by the Rotary Club of Nanaimo North – a club I’m pleased to say I still belong to today.

Like most artists, I decided not to pursue my main passion – art, as a profession to raise my family. Instead, I focused on developing my menswear career. Although I didn’t make art my major career at the time, I still wanted to create oil paintings with a purpose, so I became a commission painter – a service I still do today.


After much time, I finally embarked on my first fine art project in 1997, a project about courtship based on a book written by Dr. Paul Dobransky. His work focused on the steps to a successful courtship and inspired me to create my first fine art exhibition that would help society, particularly young adults. To provide vital information about courting as they embark on their lives.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t devote enough time to this art project because I was kept busy running my menswear store and raising a young family. This fine art project ended up taking me ten years to be ready to set a date to exhibit in Manhattan, NY.

In January 2017, with the help of Ylenia Mino, a Rotaractor and artist living and working in Manhattan at the time, I was ready to rent a location. However, it was too late for me to continue using the material from Dr. Dobransky’s book for an exhibit. Dr. Paul said his material in the final courtship stage would need to be updated, and he did not want me to use the material in his book. I told him I understood and respected his decision.

I’m happy to say that Ylenia now lives in LA and is a Rotarian from the LA5 Rotary Club of Los Angeles; she is developing her art career, and we stay in touch as much as possible and will work together one day.


Thinking of the future, I thought what I should do now? What subject do I consider important to humanity? I needed to focus on something I have experience with and believe in and the answer came quickly…. Rotary. It felt so right!

I started thinking about ideas and ways to promote and help Rotary in the world. With my years involved with Rotary, I concluded Rotary needs to be promoted to Non/Rotarians and young people.

I also wanted to incorporate a new and interesting fine art concept I devised in 1992; I wanted to promote these new ideas to a world audience. Rotary International’s convention in Toronto, Canada would be perfect. Instead of introducing myself as an artist in Manhattan where I’d be mostly invisible, I could share my fine art to my larger Rotary family at the convention.

My fine art concept would involve different art disciplines and more importantly develop positive results after the exhibition.

I started thinking of a unique fine art design and that would incorporate my new art concept set to represent Rotary efforts locally and internationally: this art design would be mobile and easily reach different audiences.

To promote and represent Rotary internationally and with our RI Foundation. I would incorporate RI’s six areas of focus as paintings and use an earth globe and hand shapes of different races to symbolize our planet’s human diversity.


Although I put my first fine art project about courtship on hold its design layout influenced my new Rotarian fine art exhibit – a new installation that did not need walls and completely original, with no reference to any artist in the world.

Each painting imaged was carefully chosen to evoke an emotion. On the back of each painting I wrote an artist statement explaining why I choose the painting’s image. I thought I’d share them with you with the first cause listed is the front of the exhibit. They are as follows….

1. Promoting Peace – I enjoyed the magnificent dove flying in the windy sky managing to hold an olive branch; the ideal universal symbol for peace.

2. Fighting Disease – I loved the close-up profile of the innocent looking child being given medicine by the caring hands of an adult.

3. Providing Clean Water, Sanitation & Hygiene – I was moved by the pure joy and relief in the girl’s facial expression capturing the clean water.

4. Saving Mothers & Children – I enjoyed selecting this beautiful view of a mother’s affection for her child. It didn’t need to be in colour.

5. Supporting Education – Being able to learn at school will help open new positive opportunities for students and their families.

6. Growing Local Economies – This woman appears to be both confident and proud to be working.

When I thought of how to showcase my art project to an audience, I realized booth space was not the best space to showcase my entire fine art concept. People attending an International Rotary Convention would not be expecting to see a new fine art exhibition, let alone a new type of exhibit. But I felt this was a great venue to showcase something new.

I was pleased to share my new art concept with a new art friend, Karen Sims who I met recently at a local new gallery opening. She is multitalented artist: a singer, proficient in several string instruments including the violin, a composer and visual artist illustrator. I asked her to join me and was pleased she was excited to join me. I showed her what I was creating and how Rotary inspired me create my multimedia installation. I explained what Rotary is and asked her look up and research more about Rotary at our Rotary International website and find inspiration to create her new music. She did her homework and composed and performed five wonderful, original songs that were played during the exhibition. The experience at our International Rotary Convention was phenomenal!

There were over 25,000 Rotarians in attendance; it was exciting to meet so many humanitarians. I was hoping to find someone who shared my vision – my purpose. Most of those who interacted with me were drawn to the different paintings and how the painting’s images could be used for fund raising.

It should be noted that I’m inspired by the numerous humanitarian stories I read in the Rotarian each month. I wanted to use my art to connect, educate and inspire and bring about positive change in the world. My Rotarian fine art exhibit has multi-purposes as there are different audiences.

After the fourth day of the convention, I met a special Rotarian who shared my vision – David Elizalde and his wife! David saw the exhibit’s full potential and he truly understood my mission. He got it!

David saw ways the fine exhibit could help his own Rotary District 5730 foundation and also RI’s Foundation. He was looking forward to becoming the next President of the Rotary Club of Amarillo, Texas, and from viewing the exhibit and listening to me, David’s wheels were turning on the best way to use and introduce the exhibit.

He decided he wanted to share his ideas with his District Governors who were at the convention: Outgoing District Governor, Charles Starnes and Incoming District Governor, Dan Linebarger. I had the pleasure to meet up with both men the next day and last day of the convention and during the evening. We had a wonderful meal together. As a new Rotary President, David had discovered a unique way to promote Rotary and raise funds for both his district foundation and RI Foundation.

David wanted to introduce the Rotarian promotional fine art exhibit back in Texas during a special occasion later in the fall of 2018. As life has it, this presentation was delayed. It was almost a year later on Saturday, May 4th, 2019, that David’s District Conference was chosen as the special occasion to introduce the now named Rotarian Promotional Fine Art Exhibit. David and I wanted to unveil the unique fine art exhibit especially for those attending the district 5730 conference.


The two main purposes of our Rotary fine art exhibit are:

First to promote and educate Rotary efforts throughout the world to help Rotary Grow and secondly, to raise funds for Rotary from the sale of prints of the paintings used in ‘Rotary Club of Amarillo’s Rotary Promotional Fine Art Exhibit’ and the sale of replicas of the entire exhibit.


We want to present to as many different audiences as possible: all levels of schools, public events, and all Rotary activities.

It has been a wonderful experience developing a personal, business, and Rotarian relationship with David Elizalde. We wish to thank his District Governor, Dan Linebacker, for his overwhelming support since meeting him and his wife, Kim, at the RI convention last year and his conference team members on behalf of David and myself.

Dan gave Derek time to speak to the attendees and prepare them for the unveiling of the Rotarian Promotional Contemporary Art Exhibit after his speech.

After the unveiling, Derek invited the audience to see the exhibit’s products displayed at the House of Friendship.

Derek created special exhibit products for sale, including a unique miniature replica one quarter the size he meticulously designed – with all sales net proceeds going back to Rotary.

The formal introduction of the Rotarian Promotional Contemporary Art Exhibit has happened. Now, the exhibit has to prove its worth – it needs to establish its value and purpose to Rotarians over the next year.

The exhibit needs to be seen by many as people as possible!

It needs to be presented and interacted with the Rotarian leaders at the club and RI level. It will also be used at public events, especially with young people of all ages at all school levels. David and Derek create a comprehensive Rotarian business plan to implement the unique Rotarian fine art project, with all net proceeds going to Rotary.


The fine art exhibit was designed to represent all things Rotary. A club may use it for many events – whether it’s on display during a club meeting or at their fundraisers or events and talked about to the crowd in attendance. The art products derived from the exhibit may be used to raise funds at these events or as gifts. Gifts derived from the fine art exhibit may be created and used for guest speakers or for those in the community who support Rotary.

There are numerous other ways with Rotary’s vast world network that this exhibit can find its way into offices and homes throughout the world while helping Rotary grow across the globe.


Last December 2018, I decided to create another Rotarian fine art project. While I was waiting to launch my first Rotarian fine art exhibit with David Elizalde, I knew I had to continue working on another fine art project to help Rotary efforts. The subject for this project was an easy decision – youth. Rotary has many outstanding youth programs that need to be promoted and could use extra funding, so this seemed like an obvious choice.

I realized the purpose of my artwork was to engage with the public, especially the youth within all levels of the school system. I decided to call my creation the ‘Rotarian Youth Services Promotional Fine Art Exhibit.

While working on my Rotarian art projects, I developed my artistic style; I decided to incorporate a dove peace image and an earth globe with the art design. I also felt I needed to introduce the exhibit at my district conference in Victoria, British Columbia, on May 11th, 2019. Therefore, I had only three and half months to create the project because I was scheduled to New Mexico to present my first Rotarian fine exhibit at my partner David Elizalde’s District 5730 Conference in Ruidoso, New Mexico, on April 26th, 2019.

I needed to apply for exhibit space at my District 5020 Conference House of Friendship (HoF). On January 5th, 2019. I emailed Patricia Crossley, who was in charge of organizing the HoF, and she provided me with the application to complete. I did this and was excited to be approved to showcase my artwork. During this time, I also contacted Joan Peggs, Event Chair of the conference, and Craig Gillis, my District 5020 Governor; I informed them of my new Rotarian fine art project. I was pleased to support the conference committee, especially by Craig Gillis. Craig and I had several terrific conversations about my Rotarian project art and how I planned to use it to help Rotary.

While working on the project, I wanted to use local images for the display’s painting. I contacted Rotarians involved in local youth services, such as fellow Rotarians: Joan Ryan, who was engaged with Interact and Rotaract; Jason Bradley, who was in charge of Youth Exchange; and finally Rob Waine, who was involved with RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards). These fellow Rotarians generously gave me their time and helped me find the images I needed.

To find the inspiration for my fine art project, I took time to attend an Interact meeting, exchange with my youth service contacts, and studied the youth programs to learn more about them.

On February 7th, I created a design and photographed it.

With my limited time to create, I was thankful for the help I received and came up with three suitable images to paint that represented the following Rotary youth services: Youth Exchange, Rotaract, and RYLA. I ended up with three youth services images to be defined, and they were to be represented as paintings that were evenly positioned around a three-dimensioned coloured globe.

I knew I wanted to use an earth globe even before I finalized the design. I thought of buying a readymade foam earth globe from a manufacturer. I did some research and discovered two manufacturers in the United States. One was located on the east coast in Maryland and created construction foam forms, and the other company was located in California and created props for the movie industry. If I were incorporating the earth globe in my Rotarian fine art, it would make sense to use my artistic skills to create my foam spheres for the earth. On January 17th, 2019, I started creating the foam sphere and later used my detailed painting skill to make the earth’s geography on the globe.

I wanted my Rotarian initiative to benefit my club. First, I approached my Rotary club’s executives for their approval to sponsor my Rotarian Youth Services fine art exhibit. They agreed to support the project and all my club members. My club, the Rotary Club of Nanaimo North, will be associated and be mentioned with the exhibit’s title.

On March 4th, 2019, I began the oil paintings and chose the three appropriate images that best represented three Rotary Youth Services. For the Youth Exchange, Jason Bradley, Chair of the Youth Exchange for the Rotary Clubs in the Nanaimo and Lantzville, took a great photo of the students gathered around in a circle, reaching in the centre with their passports. The painting is entitled, ‘We Are All One’. For Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), Rob Waine helped me find an image where a student had trusted her fellow students to catch her as she fell back – this painting is entitled, ‘Trust’. The final image to represent Rotaract, with the help of Joan Ryan, is a photo of a student holding a glowing orange paper sky lantern at a night event with the words written on the lantern, which became the paintings titled, ‘Let Love Soar’.

Trust, Oil on Canvas, 16 H x 20 W x 1.5” D

Let Love Soar, Oil on Canvas, 16 H x 20 W x 1.5” D

We Are All One, Oil on Canvas, 16 H x 20 W x 1.5” D


While working on my fine art project, I kept an art journal and images of my exhibit’s progress. While studying fine art in college and university, I enjoyed reading what other artists had written about their work. If my fine art became important, those who wanted to learn about me would have my art journals to read and images to view.

During the following weeks, I researched and delved into creating the exhibit. Aside from only having three paintings, the exhibit looked like the original design. The globe was the same size as my first Rotarian fine art exhibit. I incorporated the dove from my first Rotary exhibit to be placed above the world. I utilized the dove from my painting image, ‘Promoting Peace,’ for my first Rotarian exhibit. I decided to use the globe and a dove with my Rotarian fine art exhibits. In this design, I created a canvas print of the dove and made it into two mirrored images in the size I needed. I carefully cut out the dove and the flat wooden support and added a realistic olive branch I ordered online. Viola – my dove!

As I mentioned earlier, my District Governor, Craig Gillis, supported my Rotarian fine art initiative. My passion and excitement for my fine art project went up to a whole new level when Craig emailed me on March 25th,2019, and asked if I would provide a print from the image from one of the paintings I used with my Youth Services exhibit to be used as gifts for the conference speakers. Craig chose the image derived from the painting that represented Youth Exchange called ‘We Are All One’. As he had written in an email to me, ‘In my original conceptualization, I thought it would be great to have each individual receive something created by a D5020 Rotarian – in this case, you.’

I was delighted and honoured that Craig wanted my fine art to be a part of our District Conference!

I worked hard to create the marketing material I needed for my HoF booth and completed as much of the fine art exhibit I could before I headed down to Texas, USA, on April 26th, 2019. 

It was there to present my first Rotarian fine art exhibit with fellow Rotarian, David Elizalde, at the District 5730 Conference in New Mexico.

It was a busy time for me right up to the weekend of my conference. When I arrived back from Texas, I didn’t relax but instead worked into the night and finally finished my Youth Services exhibit on May 10th, 2019, in the evening. Then, I had to pack up my materials and travel to Victoria, British Columbia, and begin setting up the exhibition first thing the following day, around 6:30 am. Shortly after the day started, I was asked to come to the front of the room and was given recognition and thanks by the Master of Ceremonies and District Governor, Craig Gillis, for using my artwork as gifts; I was gifted a unique Rotary leather travel case. I enjoyed engaging with my fellow Rotarians and guests and listening to the incredibly inspiring conference speakers for the rest of that day.

Exchange Student Jacob From Norway (left) , Derek Rickwood (right) & ‘Rotarian Youth Services Fine Art Exhibit’ at District 5020 Conference 2019

By coincidence, later that evening, I was also unveiling a painting of the HMCS Calgary by the ship’s company at their annual fundraiser Called ‘Cowboy Up’ for the Calgary Firefighters’ Burn Treatment Society which supports burn victims at the Foothill’s Hospital Burn Unit. The Ship’s Company is the second-highest donor to that charity. It was an important day for me and all those involved.

HMCS Calgary, (2019), Oil on Canvas, 16” X 24” X ¾”

My two first fine art projects are designed to help Rotary grow and are happening simultaneously. I’m learning and comparing each task as they develop, and it is a ‘work in progress.

My first fine art exhibit will be promoted worldwide. My second exhibit will be promoted mainly through my Rotary district, focusing on students of all ages and families.

The Youth Exchange (YE) committee in my city involves members of other student services and involves all five local Rotary clubs, which I recently attended. During a recent meeting I attended, it was decided that all Rotary Student Services groups work together during this meeting. Therefore, I can promote all Rotary Services when I’m out with my Rotary Youth Service fine art exhibit. I agreed to help develop a multi-use marketing handout and networking card with this happening. The youth services exhibit public engagements that will compliment both the efforts of Rotarians involved in youth services and the work done by the Public Image Committee.

Fellow Rotarian David Elizalde owns my first fine art exhibit. We have formed a Rotarian partnership with all sales net proceeds generated from our Rotarian fine art exhibit will go back to Rotary. I own my second exhibit, and I have chosen my Rotary Club of Nanaimo North as my sponsor, with all net proceeds going back to local Rotary student services in my local area.

Like the first exhibit, funds will be raised for Rotary when the second exhibit sells and when replicas or prints of the paintings are sold. I hope to offer replicas of my youth services exhibit to as many clubs as possible so that the Rotary clubs have as many ways as possible to promote Rotary and raise funds for their club’s causes. The exhibit and its reproductions can be displayed at our public events with a Rotarian or two or a Rotarian student promoting Rotary’s work and handing out informative marketing material.

These Rotarian fine art projects are in the progress of being adequately set up with the support of our respective Rotary clubs.

Showcasing Rotary Youth Exhibit at Public Summer Event – Nanaimo Silly Boat Race (2019)

Stay tuned over the coming weeks and months while the ‘Rotarian Promotional Fine Art Exhibit’ and the Rotary Club of Nanaimo North ’Rotarian Youth Services Promotional Fine Art Exhibit’ make progress while we connect with fellow Rotarians in the world. Hopefully, you will see my Rotarian fine art exhibits up close, and they help your club grow!


Derek Rickwood, BFA Wardrobe Consultant/Fine Artist/Rotarian Rickwood’s Menswear & Art Service Cell: (250) 616-1158