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Art collective show off their creativity at JNAAG’s re-opening – Sarnia and Lambton County This Week



Members of the Z’otz Collective stand in front of their third story mural at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery. Their exhibition – entitled Ode to the Inside Out Questions – runs until March 2021. From left are Nahum Flores, Erik Jerezano and Ilyana Martinez. Carl Hnatyshyn/Sarnia This Week

A Toronto-based art collective with strong links to Latin America plan to wow Lambton County audiences at the newly-reopened Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery. Their exhibition showcases a wide variety of colourful, complex and collaborative creations.

The Z’otz Collective – made up of artists Erik Jerezano, Nahum Flores and Ilyana Martinez – launched Ode to the Inside Out Questions as the gallery re-opened its doors to its members Oct. 2 and to the general public on Oct. 3. It was the first time the gallery has allowed visitors inside since March. The exhibition will run until March 2021.

Featuring an enormous and freshly-completed mural on the gallery’s third floor, as well as intricate drawings, surreal ceramic pieces and sculptures, the exhibition will provide attendees with a fairly comprehensive snapshot of the group’s 16 years working together as collaborative artists.

The group’s name ‘Z’otz’ means ‘bat’ in the Mayan language, Jerezano said, and the trio thought it fitted the collective well as bats are both an important mythological figure in Mayan culture.

“The name links us with our Latin American heritage,” said Jerezano, who was born in Mexico and came to Canada in 2001. “We chose Z’otz because it means ‘bat’ in Mayan. Bats live together in caves and form clusters and we are a cluster of artists. We are a community.”

While each of the artists brings a different style and skills to the table, their ability to teach and learn from one other has allowed them to create art that reflects their shared heritage (Flores is originally from Honduras while Martinez is a Mexican-Canadian) while pushing them to places they never could have gone alone, Jerezano said.

“We all come from different paths. I was born in Mexico and I came to Canada and I consider myself a self-taught artist,” he said. “Then I met Nahum, who studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto and at the time Ilyana was doing an exchange semester in Italy. She went to NSCAD University for design and the Ontario College of Art for art.”

He said they started with drawings, and then started to meet weekly.

“We started evolving in our practice, incorporation ceramic and large scale murals.”

When the three work collaboratively to create art, the process – and not the end result – is the most important part of the equation, Martinez said.

“When we work we don’t start out by putting specific meaning into the work, but stories come out of the process. So when we show our art, people can see it and invent their own stories,” she said.

“(We) have quite different styles and the way we started working is that we started with small drawings … and usually we’d put all our materials in the middle of the table and then we’d each grab a piece of paper and we’d work on the piece, then we’d rotate it.”

“We are definitely a process-oriented group, and people walking through the exhibition will definitely see that with all the ceramics and all the drawings,” Jerezano added. “They’re all done under the same concept of collaboration, by talking with each other. It’s like a conversation – it can take you anywhere.”

The beauty of Ode to the Inside Out Questions, Flores said, is that every attendee can take what they like from the exhibition.

“People have to come with an open mind,” he added. “Our work is very ambiguous and everyone can question it and think about it from a different point of view. But they’ll see a lot of variety and a lot of stories that they can interpret from their own perspective.”

While the pandemic slowed down the collective’s creative flow, it didn’t extinguish it, Jerezano said. Having an exhibition in a gallery again with live people walking through is a good feeling, he added.

“Our dynamic changed because of the pandemic,” he said. “Nahum and Ilyana are a family, I have my own family, so we had to work remotely which was challenging. But we adjusted to it as best as we could. We returned to the studio at the end of August to work together and now we’re here.”
”It feels good to be working again,” Martinez said. “As a group we’ve had consistency over the past 16 years. That momentum was halted, it’s quite a challenge to get going again. But here we are.”

Aside from Ode to the Inside Out Questions, the gallery is also showcasing another exhibition as part of its grand re-opening.

Visitors can also come to the gallery to see Group of Seven: Their Visions Revisited 100 Years Later, which runs from Oct. 2 to August 2021. The exhibition features paintings and drawings from the gallery’s permanent collection and showcases early connections between iconic Group of Seven painters and the beginnings of the Sarnia Women’s Conservation Art Association and the Sarnia Art Movement.

The gallery will have limited new hours beginning on Oct. 2 (the gallery will be open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.) and to allow for proper physical distancing, the gallery will be implementing timed-ticket entry, which can be booked in advance at

Room capacities at the gallery have been significantly reduced, masks are required and tours of the gallery are temporarily cancelled.

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Teens behind latest art damage on Berlin's Museum Island – The Battlefords News-Optimist



BERLIN — Several teenagers sprayed graffiti on a piece of art outside one of Berlin’s most famous museums and that the vandalism was unrelated to the damaging of more than 60 other art works on the city’s Museum Island that were smeared with an oily liquid early this month, police said Saturday.

A huge granite bowl in front of the Altes Museum, which is part of the German capital’s museum complex and houses antiquities, was defaced Friday night by some teenagers and adults, Berlin police said. Two of the suspects were temporarily detained.

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Museum Island is a UNESCO world heritage site in the heart of Berlin and one of the city’s main tourist attractions,

Dozens of other exhibits at the Museum Island complex were vandalized Oct. 3. Investigators said they had watched hours of surveillance camera footage but not found any obvious sign of anyone applying the liquid.

Museum experts have said the motive remains a mystery and there appeared to be no thematic link between the targeted works. They expressed optimism that the apparently random damage can be repaired.

Berlin police said the graffiti sprayed on the granite bowl did not have any political content or appear related to the damaging of the other art works.

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Saving the saints: St. Ninian's restoration reveals art history in Antigonish –



Michelle Gallinger spends more than nine hours a day pressed against the grand walls of St. Ninian’s Cathedral.

She’s slowly revealing a piece of Canadian history that’s been hidden for decades.

Under the painted walls and columns of the Antigonish, N.S., church, is an extraordinary mural by Quebec painter Ozias Leduc.

Gallinger, a fine arts conservator based in Dartmouth, considers him the Michelangelo of Canada.

“It’s pretty exciting. You get to have your hands on somebody’s painting who nobody has seen in its entirety since 1937,” said Gallinger.

Leduc has been recognized by the federal government as a national historic person, a designation given to people who’ve made unique and enduring contributions to Canada’s history.

He painted 150 churches, mostly in his home province. Gallinger said St. Ninian’s is the only one in Eastern Canada.

Leduc and his team painted the church in 1902, 26 years after the cathedral opened.

His work covered the entire interior from floor to ceiling. But in 1937, the cathedral needed an update and the first layer of paint was added, covering up some of the murals.

For three months, Michelle Gallinger and her team have been standing on scaffolding at the top of St. Ninian’s Cathedral, restoring murals by hand. (Robert Short/CBC)

Over the years, as many as seven layers of paint covered up the masterpiece, leaving only some of the saints exposed. They became known as the “floating saints.” 

The rose medallions on the ceiling were filled in. They’re now blue circles, but their intricate designs can be seen peeking through the layers.

Most people have no idea what’s actually on St. Ninian’s walls.

“The columns are actually painted marble,” said Gallinger. “On the outside aisles, the Stations of the Cross are all painted by Ozias Leduc and there are stencils that go up the wall.”

Two angels on the walls hadn’t been seen since 1957, when they were completely painted over. Damage caused by a steam leak at the cathedral caused layers of paint to peel away. (Robert Short/CBC)

It’s Gallinger’s job to bring that work back to life, and she’s working against the clock to save Leduc’s masterpiece.

A few years ago, there was a steam leak inside the cathedral that travelled up the columns.

“That actually caused the paint and all the subsequent layers to flake off or come forward,” said Gallinger. Those curling pieces of paint are taking the original mural with them.

In 2012, the church decided to start a campaign to save the murals. It started fundraising and every time donations total $80,000, Gallinger comes in with her team to save two saints.

In all, it’s expected the work will cost more than half a million dollars.

“The best part of it is when you get to take the four layers of artist paint off the faces. They no longer look dead or tired — they come alive,” said Gallinger.

The restoration team is using stencils to fill in some missing pieces of Ozias Leduc’s original mural. (Robert Short/CBC)

In this phase of the project, Gallinger and two of her colleagues have been tasked with revealing two saints, Matthias and Peter, as well as two angels that have been completely covered since 1957.

It’s incredibly slow, detailed work that is done by hand.

“We actually have to glue it all back down using steam irons and adhesive and hot irons,” Gallinger said of the peeling paint.

“Then we have to use what’s called a poultice, which is basically a wad of cotton with a solvent on it, to remove the top layers down to the original layer.”

Ozias Leduc originally painted St. Ninian’s from floor to ceiling. The blue circles were filled with rose medallions. While some parts have been restored, other sections are now flaking away. (Robert Short/CBC)

Once the layers are removed, she can see the original brushstrokes and paint colours.

“Right now, the two angels are just standing on clouds and it’s just glorious to see them,” she said.

But the damage of time is clear: some parts of the walls have peeled in large chunks, leaving behind blank white sections. That’s where Gallinger and her team are trying to fill in the blanks with their own paint.

“We will put a fine art varnish on it,” she explained. “They could always take our overpaint off without ever affecting the original Leduc.”

Michelle Gallinger says they were fortunate to find a few old photos of St. Ninian’s that were stored in Quebec. She’s using those to fill in missing sections of Ozias Leduc’s original mural. (Robert Short/CBC)

Rev. Donald MacGillivray, rector of St. Ninian’s, has been watching the church walls transform.

“Beauty is important,” he said. “The artwork here was made beautiful, and to have it restored brings beauty back into the building.”

He said it is incredible that people have been willing to donate to the project over the years. Every dollar has been an anonymous contribution.

“People come up to me and say, ‘I want to give money to help with this, but I don’t want my name to be known.'”

St. Ninian’s still has to raise $280,000 to restore the remaining seven saints. The cathedral hopes to finish the project in three years. (Robert Short/CBC)

The church is filled with posters showing old photos that give hints of what’s hidden on the walls, and explaining the work that needs to go into each of the saints.

When this phase finishes up next week, St. Ninian’s still has seven saints to save.

MacGillivray’s goal is to have the money raised in the next two or three years.

And while he waits to bring Gallinger’s team back to Antigonish, MacGillivray takes the time to appreciate the section that they have almost completely transformed.

“It’s wonderful,” he said.


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GRT public art display misused to display hate symbol in Cambridge –



A quick response from the region’s transit provider after a hate symbol was briefly seen on Sunday on the Cambridge Centre Mall transit terminal’s public art display.

Peter Zinck is the Director of Transit Services for the Region of Waterloo – speaking with 570 NEWS, he said that the station’s pinboard had been manipulated to show a swastika and that the behaviour was promptly addressed by GRT staff in under an hour.

“We’ve turned the matter over to police, who will investigate. We will be fully supporting their investigation in any way that GRT can.”

Zinck said that the report came through from a media service on Sunday morning around 9:00 a.m. Staff members were sent to the Cambridge Centre station to re-arrange the board before forwarding the issue to regional police. He said that Grand River Transit places a high priority on these kinds of issues – whether it’s a public art display or a reported piece of graffiti.  

When asked about problematic behaviour with the pin-board display and whether a decision would be considered to remove it, Zinck said that this is the first reported circumstance of the public art piece being misused in this way.

“Hopefully this is just a one-off, and that people recognize this is there for public art and not for use of hate symbols.”

Zinck said that Grand River Transit remains committed to providing a safe environment for all riders and that they condemn symbols of hate or racial intolerance without reservation.

He added that if members of the public see anything like this on transit, they can report the behaviour on GRT’s website or through their call centre.

“… it’s just not acceptable on our services. We’ll deal with the matter quickly, and follow-up through the Waterloo Regional Police Services to ensure it’s investigated.”

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