On Wednesday afternoon, Butter Gallery owners Andrea Rinaldo and Suzanne Steeves were busy moving a new Toller Cranston acquisition into their Hurontario Street gallery.
“Cranston was one of Canada’s premier figure skaters. He was an Olympian. He was also a very prolific painter. His estate contacted us and asked if we would represent him,” Rinaldo told CollingwoodToday.ca.
Throughout the pandemic, the art world has been hit in a variety of different ways, some financial, and some inspirational. In Collingwood, artists and galleries have managed to pivot in different ways, and the pandemic’s impact on the local art scene may have ripple effects for years to come.
“It’s kind of a feel-good story here,” said Rinaldo of the impact COVID has had on Butter Gallery. “Suzanne and I sat down at the beginning of the shutdowns, not knowing how long it was going to last. We talked about how we could still generate business.”
With many people spending so much time in their home spaces and conducting virtual interviews and Zoom calls from home throughout the pandemic, Rinaldo and Steeves saw an opportunity.
“Instead of wearing their power suits to the boardroom and being assessed, critiqued or judged on that, we said, ‘What about putting a power piece of art behind you in a Zoom call?’” said Rinaldo. “It kind of took off from there.”
Over the past year, Rinaldo says the gallery did a lot of FaceTiming with prospective buyers, to give virtual tours of the gallery. Art lovers have bought pieces from the gallery through Zoom, and Rinaldo says they’ve done a lot of shipping.
“I’m touching wood as I say this because I don’t want to be cocky, but we’ve fared well through this last year. I think one of the reasons is people are not travelling, so they have some disposable income,” said Rinaldo. “They are sitting looking at their four walls and have made a decision that they’re going to support local and invest in their four walls.”
Looking forward, Rinaldo says she doesn’t see virtual gallery tours as becoming the norm post-COVID.
“Art is much easier to sell when people are standing in front of it. Once we’re all vaccinated, there’s no reason we should have to continue doing [virtual tours],” she said. “The joy of buying art is being in the gallery.”
Meanwhile, local artists have also had to pivot and some are finding the demand is slowly changing.
Artist Lily Findlay painted a sunset mural on one section of 100-feet of hoarding fence along Huron Street back in May. She, along with Ruth Hurdle, Sam Nellicks, and Blaze Wiradharma, was commissioned by the Town of Collingwood to paint the mural.
The Ontario College of Art & Design University graduate has had family roots in Collingwood for many years, and currently lives in Clarksburg. She works at a local vineyard, which she says is both flexible and helps her to make connections that help with her art career.
“It would be a living if I could survive,” said Findlay, with a laugh. “The issue with art is it’s not very consistent. (My job) helps me to have conversations with people who appreciate art as well.”
Findlay says the pandemic has made it difficult to sell art with festivals and events being cancelled or postponed.
“That’s been the hardest thing for me. It’s not even just about selling, but just talking to people about art and getting your art in front of a lot of people,” she said.
“I’ve always done more nature (paintings), and I find that’s all I have right now. Our connection to nature has really been emphasized for me,” she said. “My paintings have been more about how beautiful nature really is and we need to be grateful.”
While Findlay paints, she also does work with vinyl such as custom decals and stickers. To pivot during COVID, Findlay has been focusing on smaller crafts and paintings, for which she says there is a higher demand. She says she notices new art trends with patrons looking for more small crafts and textiles that can apply to their lives at home.
“For example, sandwich boards or magnets and other smaller things,” she said. “I haven’t had commissions and my large-scale pieces haven’t been moving as much, but smaller things are gaining more interest.”
Nottawa-area artist Kara McIntosh says being able to paint over the past year has saved her sanity.
McIntosh is one of many local artists whose studios are located in the Tremont Studio on Simcoe Street.
“There’s been a lot of having to shift our way of thinking about how to get our artwork in front of eyeballs when you can’t do it in person,” said McIntosh, adding she’s become very active on Instagram, as well as through her mailing list to keep patrons informed. She has also participated in online shows and exhibitions over the past year.
“There’s been a ton of success and a lot of artwork purchased over the past year from what I can see. I’ve also been able to sell a lot of work. I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” she said.
McIntosh says her sales over the past year have been roughly on-par with her sales over previous years. She says the general consensus from her patrons is similar to Rinaldo’s findings, that more people are staying home and are wanting to spruce up their personal space.
“When times are tough, people crave things that are beautiful and bring happiness and joy, whether it’s nostalgic or interesting,” said McIntosh. “It can be an easy way to shift some energy in your home and bring some new life to it.”
McIntosh focuses mostly nature in her painting, sometimes dipping her toe into the abstract. Throughout COVID-19, McIntosh says she’s been leaning more toward her abstract side.
“I’ve always been inspired by the South Georgian Bay area, but now I’ve taken a closer and deeper look at it, and I’m finding new inspiration,” she said. “I used to do more traditional landscapes. I am now challenging myself to use less reference material and respond more emotionally to experiences.”
“The work is coming out as more abstract than ever before, which I’m grateful for. It’s been an interesting process for me.”
While McIntosh acknowledges this past year as being difficult for many, she says she feels fortunate to have been able to find opportunities this year that have worked out.
“I’ve been really productive. For me, a huge part of the joy in being an artist is the process itself,” she said.
Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat
Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.
“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.
Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.
“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”
The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.
Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.
“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.
“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”
Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.
April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.
Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.
Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune
Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.
While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.
“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”
Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.
As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.
Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.
“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.
In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”
History and identity
One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.
“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”
Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.
In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”
It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”
A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.
“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”
What shapes us
St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.
“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”
With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”
“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.
As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.
Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.
“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”
“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.
Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard
Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!
On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.
For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit bellevillelibrary.ca/armchair-traveller.php. The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.
Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.
Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.
The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.
When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.
For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at email@example.com.
Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.