The Beaverbrook Art Gallery has acquired its first piece of stained-glass art and collections manager John Leroux says it’s replete with New Brunswick historical significance and the beauty of the craft.
“It’s a stunning piece and we’re so lucky to have it,” said Leroux.
“It really connects to New Brunswick. So New Brunswickers will absolutely love this window.”
The two-metre in diameter, round glass came from a Baptist church in St. Stephen that was demolished a few years ago and is dedicated to candy-company co-founder and former New Brunswick Lt-Gov. Gilbert White Ganong, who had been in the role less than a year before he died in 1917.
It shows a field of lilies — which are typically viewed as representing sympathy or rejuvenation of the soul, noted Leroux — surrounding the New Brunswick coat of arms.
In the background, the sun is setting over a city, possibly meant to look like Jerusalem.
It has many shades of blue and green and white opalescent stained glass, he said, “similar to what you’d see in a Tiffany window.”
“When we turn people around to see it, they’re just awestruck by the quality and the colour.”
The glass has been installed in front of a large north-facing window in a stairwell in the new wing of the gallery, overlooking the river. Leroux expects it will be there permanently.
“It has beautiful light coming through it all day,” he said.
When you look at it, you can see both the artist’s landscape in the piece and the natural landscape of trees and water in the background.
“It’s beautiful,” he said, and a “very fitting” location.
All the more so, said Leroux, because Ganong himself would have had a similar vantage point, coming and going from the provincial legislature across the street.
The gallery is working on a way to light up the glass so it can also be appreciated at night.
St. Stephen origins
Originally, this window hung behind the altar of the Union Street Baptist Church in St. Stephen.
It was installed there in 1919, said Leroux.
He found out about the piece a couple of years ago from friend and renowned stained glass artist and restorer Ned Bowes, of Fredericton.
Bowes has worked on restoring “most of the stained-glass windows in New Brunswick,” said Leroux, and he described this work as “one of the greatest windows he’s ever seen in the province.”
Bowes said he came across the piece while restoring about a dozen other windows that were being relocated to a new church next door.
It was hanging about six metres (20 feet) above the altar, he said, but no light was shining through it.
The glass had been completely covered on one side, said Bowes, and partially covered on the other with a large screen, when an addition was built on the church about 50 years ago.
When he climbed up to check it out, he discovered it was dedicated to Ganong and became excited about the historical significance.
Since the church didn’t have a place for the piece in its new building, he was given permission to find it a new home.
“The hunt was on to find some place of significance where it would be brought out of the darkness,” he said.
Bowes said he’s “very happy” the glass is now in the Beaverbrook gallery where “everyone” can enjoy it.
One of the things Bowes likes about the window is the “beautiful message” it carries.
“Consider the lilies of the field,” he said, citing a Biblical verse, “how they grow, they neither toil nor spin.”
Leroux said the lilies are one of the features that first struck him when he went to St. Stephen to check out what Bowes had found.
The window was in four pie-shaped pieces, he recalled.
“He held one of them up to the light,” said Leroux, ” and I could see these beautiful lilies come through.”
He was also taken with the enormous New Brunswick shield in another quadrant.
“You rarely see heraldry in things like this in church windows,” he said, but it was done because of Ganong’s involvement in politics.
“Typically in church windows, you see figures, you see whether it’s Christ or other saints or people doing things of a kind of sanctified nature.”
This one has no people in it at all.
“The other major thing” about this window, said Leroux, is that the glass was made at the Robert McCausland Stained Glass Studio of Toronto, “one of the most important stained glass artists in Canadian history.”
They’ve been in business for 165 years, he said, and are the oldest stained-glass studio in North America.
“And it’s a 100-year-old window. So just preserving a piece of beautiful history and artistry, it’s of Canadian importance. It’s just a great thing.”
Art workshops for teens offered in photography, poetry – Sarnia Observer
Hopes are participants in an upcoming art workshop series for teens also get involved in a photo contest jointly hosted by Lambton County Library and the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery, a gallery official says.
The Take Your Shot Teen Photo Contest that opened in May for 13-18-year-olds, and running until July 10, is one of the reasons photography was made one of the topics in an upcoming Random Acts of Art Workshop (RAAW), said Anna Miccolis, community art and education coordinator with the downtown Sarnia gallery.
The photo contest has been held by the library dating back to around 2009, but in recent years the gallery has come on board, she said.
“It’s had a number of different names over the years,” she said about the contest.
The July 6-8 RAAW “crash course of photography basics” with photographer Sierra Rei Hart at the gallery promises to help prep youngsters with photography knowledge, including composition, perspective, lighting and editing.
Winners, meanwhile, in the contest that challenges teens to encapsulate the feeling of home in their shots, get their photographs matted and framed. A choice of prizes is available to the grand prize winner.
Details are at jnaag.ca.
The contest kicked off in May with a talk about photography and storytelling from decorated photojournalist Larry Towell.
An Aug. 12 to Oct. 8 exhibition at the gallery called Feels Like Home is planned to showcase work by Towell, from the gallery’s permanent collection, and jury-selected entries from contest participants, Miccolis said.
The other Summer RAAW workshop is poetry with spoken word artist Shelly Grace July 20-22.
It ties into 10th anniversary plans for the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery this fall, Miccolis said.
“We’re looking at our permanent collection and the story of how JNAAG came to be in this building, but we’re, in that exploration of the permanent collection, we’re thinking about what our collection encompasses at this time,” she said.
“And we thought that a program centred around poetry and performance could create an opportunity for some interesting responses from youth in the community.”
Details are pending for anniversary plans in October, she said.
“But we do have a plan for a rotation of exhibits, giving a survey of the permanent collection.”
The age 14-18 RAAW series – another for 9-13-year-olds is called TNT Summer Splash – has been hosted by the gallery for more than a decade, including its pre-JNAAG days as Gallery Lambton, Miccolis said, noting the workshops are free.
Past iterations have included making murals on walls of buildings, as well as stained glass artwork and experimental painting, she said.
“As always, we’re looking to create deepened connections to the work on display,” she said. “Whether it’s a current exhibition, or using programs as a primer to exhibitions coming in the near future.”
Current gallery exhibitions include photography exhibition One Wave by Ned Pratt, and Facing North, featuring paintings by Jean Hay.
Surprised by art — Folks Art Festival uses garbage cans as canvas – Welland Tribune
The annual Niagara Folk Arts Festival may be wrapping up, but its Art We Surprised project will be around all summer — and perhaps even beyond.
So if you’re walking in St. Catharines’ Richard Pierpoint Park and find yourself face-to-face with a piece of art, make sure to take a closer look.
It was carefully created and designed — but instead of the artist using a traditional canvas, the work is on a plastic garbage can.
The point, as the name suggests, is the surprise.
“The project came from the idea that persons walking through (the park) would suddenly come upon a highly decorated art work, and be surprised to find it out in a natural setting,” said Pam Seabrook, fundraising and events manager with Niagara Folks Arts Multicultural Centre.
Originally planned for the 2020 festival through the City of St. Catharines Centennial Gardens Partnership Fund, Art We Surprised was placed on hold due to the pandemic.
Seabrook said the pause was because organizers wanted the art pieces to create “real engagement between artists and the general public,” but in the end, settled for a hybrid model — with some solo creations, and some group pieces.
Spanning an assortment of styles and inspiration, from pencil portraits to pieces reminding residents the importance of taking care of the environment. Each art piece is created by an artist who came to Canada as an immigrant.
Seabrook said the art project is an example of what the centre stands for: the inclusion of all cultural heritages, and breaking down of racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, perceived lack of abilities and seclusion barriers.
One of the artists, Cemile Kacmaz heard about the project through social media. Kacmaz came to Canada with her 12-year-old son in 2020, with the goal of working as an education assistant, and bringing art into special needs programming.
Originally from Istanbul, Kacmaz said she came to Canada because of the difficult political situation in Turkey, and a lifestyle she did not want her son to grow up in. Being an artist in Canada allows her a freedom of speech and expression people in Turkey — and for much of her own life — are not always allowed to share publicly.
Kacmaz attended Niagara College for two years (graduating last week), but with most classes online, said it was difficult and lonely, with no friends or family nearby.
When she learned the fold arts centre was looking for artists to participate in its annual art project, she thought it would be fun and give her a chance to become involved with the Niagara community.
Art We Surprised was an opportunity to use her art for change.
Kacmaz spent a month and a half planning, and another month painting her garbage can. It was a “long, slow process,” she said, but the organizers gave artists the ability to take their time.
“Painting is the way of communication between me and the world. It is a kind of tool to understand the world around me,” she said.
Her inspiration was the universe, and by placing the garbage cans into the space, between “planets and stars, I wanted to point out how we treat the nature we live and exist in.”
All Art We Surprised garbage cans created by artists from across the Niagara region — artists with backgrounds spanning Lebanon, Africa, Colombia and China — will be placed in St. Catharines and at Pierpoint Park this month.
The Niagara Folks Art Festival has held a community art project each year since 2019, with artists invited to participate in communal art projects, regardless of ability.
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