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Art Gallery of Ontario purchases two paintings by area artist –



A local artist has found a big-time buyer for two of his paintings, and it kind of feels like he’s come full circle.

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has purchased two of Travis Shilling’s works from his Tyrannosaurus Clan show he put on last year, and they will be included in the Toronto gallery’s permanent collection.

“It was really exciting,” Shilling, a Canadian-Ojibwe artist based in Orillia, said of getting the call from the AGO. “I didn’t know how to feel about it.”

He’s had time to think about that, though, and can say it feels “special.”

Shilling moved to the big city when he was 17 to study at the Toronto School of Art. Money was tight, so he took advantage of the AGO’s free admission on Wednesday nights. That’s when he really gained an appreciation for the artists showcased and fell in love with oil painting.

“I joke that I always feel like I’m 17. As long as that excitement’s there, you feel really good,” he said. “I always think about those days at the AGO. What a fascinating place that is. We’re so lucky to have that institution of art.”

Shilling began painting when he was in high school. His father, the well-known and talented Arthur Shilling, of Rama First Nation, died when Travis was seven. The family kept his studio shut, but a large canvas as well as many supplies remained inside.

At 15, Shilling went back into his father’s studio, gathered some of those supplies and began painting.

He recalled a quote he read about an artist having to create 1,000 canvases before being happy with one. Ten years after he started painting, Shilling said, he was finally satisfied with his work.

He has been painting professionally for more than 20 years and his work has been exhibited far and wide, in Canada, the United States and Europe.

The two pieces purchased by the AGO are called Owl and The Excavators. The entire Tyrannosaurus Clan show was inspired by pipelines, particularly on First Nation lands, and everything that comes with them — the protests, the crews who work on them, the spirits disturbed by them, both humans and other animals.

“I just started to think about what they were digging up. I started to think about artifacts, the past,” Shilling said.

The pipeline workers crossed his mind, too. He knows people who have worked on such projects. Some have shared with him their stories of the animals they’ve seen — animals that have never seen excavators and pipelines.

“The vision was the old creature rising that’s been dormant for thousands of years,” he said of one of the recurring images in the series of paintings. “I’ve always tried to focus on the positives, but these spirits are coming back because they’re being dug up.”

The AGO purchasing his paintings has certainly been a positive, especially during a time when artists are struggling.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early in the year, “everyone had to rethink what they were doing,” he said.

“My work is about being in the moment and realizing this isn’t the end; it’s just another beginning,” he said.

Studio, the downtown Orillia space Shilling runs with his partner, Naomi Woodman, remains closed. Now, he’s painting out of his kitchen. He wasn’t sure at first how removing himself from his usual work environment would affect his painting or his productivity.

“We left the studio, we went to the woods and I just started painting again,” he said, adding that experience gave him “a real sense of security” that he could keep up with his craft during challenging times.

He also finds motivation from the Otter Art Club, a youth art collective founded by him and Woodman that provides a range of instruction and experience to local kids. It’s an experience they didn’t want the young participants to miss out on, so they’ve shifted the programming to online.

They have a goal of providing 150 youth with art kits to help with the online course, and they’re hoping the community will pitch in. Any contribution is appreciated, but everyone who donates $500 or more will receive a 16-by-16-inch, limited-edition print of Shilling’s We Are Always Together.

For more information, or to send an e-transfer, email

Shilling and Woodman are also working on a book that will feature all of the paintings that were included in Shilling’s exhibition called Colorado, which recently closed after a three-week run at the Ingram Gallery in Toronto. A copy will be auctioned off in support of the Otter Art Club art kits.

Keep an eye on the Studio and Otter Art Club Facebook pages for details.

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2021 Sobey Art Award Call for nominations open, National Gallery of Canada exhibition returns and long-list awards increased – Canada NewsWire



It’s an honour to chair the jury for this national award for the first time, and I look forward to discovering artists from coast—to coast—to coast through this experience,” said Sasha Suda, PHD, Director and CEO of the NGC.

“The Sobey Art Award is designed to seek out and promote the work of young artists across the country” said Rob Sobey, Chair of the SAF. “Every year we work with jurors and artists to improve the Award’s structure and impact. In its twentieth year, we are pleased to announce that we are increasing the long-list prize to $10,000 to each of the twenty artists on the list, raising the overall award to $400,000. We look forward to seeing the return of the National Gallery’s exhibition this fall.”

The 2021 award structure will be:

  • $100,000 to the overall winner
  • $25,000 to each of the four other shortlisted finalists
  • $10,000 to each of the 20 long-listed finalists

The five shortlisted artists will be featured in an exhibition at the NGC during the fall of 2021. An independent jury consisting of curators from five regions (Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and the North, and the West Coast and Yukon), as well as an international juror, will oversee the selection process.

Nominations are open until Friday, March 5, 2021. The NGC will accept nominations for the Award from recognized agents, artists, and institutions. The NGC will notify the sender by e-mail upon receipt of a nomination package.

DEADLINE FOR NOMINATIONS: Friday, March 5, 2021, no later than 6 p.m. EST


2020 Sobey Art Award Nominations
c/o National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive
P.O. Box 427, Station A,
Ottawa, ON
K1N 9N4

[email protected]

About the Sobey Art Foundation
The Sobey Art Foundation was established in 1981 with the mandate to carry on the work of entrepreneur and business leader, the late Frank H. Sobey, who was a dedicated collector of Canadian art. In 2002 the Sobey Art Award was founded and quickly became the preeminent award for contemporary Canadian visual art. Awarded annually to artists aged 40 and under, the award shines a spotlight on many of the most exciting emerging artists in the country.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the largest collection of contemporary Indigenous art in the world, as well as the most important collection of historical and contemporary Canadian and European Art from the 14th to 21st centuries. Founded in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to art for all Canadians. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

SOURCE National Gallery of Canada

For further information: Denise Siele, NGC Senior Communications Manager, [email protected] | (613) 298-1380

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Cochrane based artist helps Calgary seniors craft public art installation – Cochrane Today



CALGARY— A local artist has found a unique way to celebrate everyday beauty with a carefully crafted arts package for seniors.

Karen Begg, of Studio West Bronze Foundry & Art Gallery, created the art installation Birds & Blooms using the Public Art Grant for Artist-initiated projects.

The grant was used to design and distribute a senior’s safe painting kit.

“I look at the project as two parts— One it was a senior’s safe activity … The second part of it was we installed them publicly at the Twin Views Communal Gardens in Dover,” Begg said. “The need was just unbelievable.”

The kit was distributed to 74 seniors located in Calgary, including Bethany River View properties who share a border with the community garden. Begg also worked with the Calgary Vietnamese Women’s Association. She added the partnership was especially neat because it allowed for the art project guide was translated into Vietnamese.

She especially enjoyed partnering with the Calgary Vietnamese Women’s Association as it allowed for some of the projects to become inter-generational through grandparents working with grandchildren while painting.

The youngest painter was five-years-old and the idlest was 92. The majority were seniors and was a cool experience as many of the artists who participated were born in the 1930s.

The cut-outs were created by Sunshine Laser Creations in Cochrane and embraced a garden theme by creating flowers, butterflies and birds.

Begg designed the kits to include eight paints, a bunch of brushes, stamps and stencils to decorate. She added the tools she chose were fashioned for arthritic hands to ensure they were easier to use.

“It was really great to give the seniors a safe project to work on as well as to put them on public display to show our community how valuable our seniors are— While keeping them involved in the community,” Begg said. 

Seniors were asked to paint a cutout and then send the completed project to Begg to install at the community garden. Seniors were able to keep the art supplies and were provided a canvas so they could keep creating.

Begg was inspired to create the project because she felt bad for seniors who were living in isolation. 

“I just got thinking about seniors needing activities … Because, they can’t see their friends,” Begg said. “I feel really bad for them it’s been a really hard year on them

Begg said she was impressed with the senior’s creativity in decorating the art pieces.

A popular pedestrian path runs through the community garden, Begg said, and she is looking forward to passersby enjoying the newly installed art pieces.

“It brightened a really dim corner and just brought some life back into the community,” Begg said. “I’m really proud of everything that they’ve accomplished.”

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Ann Clow showing her art in Georgetown –




Artist Ann Clow has an exhibit on display at the Kings Playhouse.

Running until Jan. 28, Through the Lense and Palette offers highlights from Clow’s collection. 

Originally from Nova Scotia, but living in P.E.I. for the past five years, Clow is a self-taught painter and photographer who has followed in her family’s tradition and been an artist all of her life. 

She has been selling her work and giving classes for more than 40 years. 

Her work is influenced by her surroundings, and since she values travel, these change over time.  

Much of her style can vary from highly realistic, abstract to deeply spiritual. 

“My heart is filled with creativity and so is my mind,” she said. “In art, I combine my mind and my heart.” 

Once the show is finished, people can also view her work in Montague at The Turning Point health store in the Down East Mall and Twice Upon Book Store. For more information, visit and

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