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Cultivating Creativity: New art and dance studio provides unique opportunities – Belleville Intelligencer




jpg, BI



Opening a new business during a pandemic takes courage, passion, creativity and vision – traits that Belleville resident Christopher Bennett used as fuel for his dream of launching Art Works, a new art and dance studio on North Front Street.

Bennett, a well-known visual artist, dancer, teacher, entrepreneur behind SeRnA custom Artwork, and muralist, who recently completed the “Essential Workers” mural on Dundas Street West, is an enthusiastic advocate for the arts and for providing opportunities for both youth and adults to “learn, grow and find their passions through the arts and express themselves passionately and freely.”

“The fact that Chris has pushed ahead with the opening of his studio during this uncertain time is a great example of the resilience and perseverance of artists in the Quinte Region,” says Janet Jarrell, executive director of the Quinte Arts Council. “He is so motivated and passionate about his work. It’s a great benefit to the community to have an arts champion such as Chris offering his unique art and dance opportunities to kids, youth and adults.”

Arts Works features art and dance classes for ages 5 and up specializing in Hip Hop, Breaking, Popping and the original dance forms of Hip Hop culture. There are also workshops, paint nights, and themed birthday parties, as well as an art gallery featuring the work of 10 local artists and a retail shop.

“When I opened [phase 1 of] Art Works two years ago [on Pinnacle Street] my goal was to give those voiceless yet extremely talented visual artists, dancers and photographers like myself a place to showcase their artwork and passions,” he writes on his Facebook page. “The old location didn’t really have the space to do so. But this time around in our new location I knew right away what I wanted to do with this big long wall – and that’s to give artists a chance to be seen outside of that traditional and very limited route of the typical gallery setting.”

He adds: “I have a gallery every day in the physical streets of my own city where I vowed to break down those barriers and standards for others to know that you can do it. Art Works is just that. It’s about giving the underdog a chance to shine without limitations or expectations.”

But to open a studio during a global pandemic? “Months ago if you were to ask me about opening a studio again I would have said, ‘no, not at all. Not during COVID. It’s too much.’ But the space I couldn’t pass up. It literally made me fall in love with wanting to do it again,” says Bennett.

Born in Trenton and moving to Belleville at age 8, the 39-year-old Bennett is proud of his roots but acknowledges he followed a solitary and self-directed path. He discovered rap at age 8, graffiti art and hip hop at age 12, but when he looked around at the art forms in his community he realized, “there is no one else doing graffiti art here, no breakdancers, no rap music here – why not?”

Not only did these forms of expression give him his individual voice and a means to apply his artistic talents, but planted the seeds for his future: “I vowed to be the [artistic] influence in my community that I didn’t have growing up,” says Bennett.

“Whether they’re young or a teenager, kids deserve to be shown or given the opportunities to express themselves… to open the door for them and have them realize, ‘wow… this could be something.’”

Located at 257 North Front Street, Art Works is hosting their grand opening on Saturday October 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit Facebook for more information about classes and opportunities.

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Abbotsford Arts Council presents online Anonymous Art Show – Abbotsford News



The Abbotsford Arts Council presents the sixth annual Anonymous Art Show Fundraiser starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1.

The show runs online at until Nov. 30.

The fundraiser showcases art that is submitted anonymously by emerging artists and seasoned professionals, providing an opportunity to give emerging artists a boost and buyers an opportunity to purchase an original work at an affordable price.

Each piece displayed in the show is on a 12-by-12-by-1.5-inch canvas or board and will be sold for $100.

Half the proceeds go to the artist and the remaining fifty per cent stays with the Abbotsford Arts Council to help create opportunities for artists in these difficult times and fund programs such as free community events, exhibition space, arts initiatives and more.

When a piece is purchased, the work will be marked as sold and the artist’s name revealed on the website.

The Abbotsford Arts Council will also announce each participating artist on Instagram @abbotsfordartscouncil as their work is sold. Purchased works can be picked up from the Kariton Art Gallery (2387 Ware St.) at designated pickup times or by appointment.

Visit the website or email for more information.

RELATED: Submissions accepted for Anonymous Art Show

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Letters Oct. 31: Art installation; restaurant servers; big spending – Times Colonist



Who owns an art installation?

Re: “Anti-police acronym removed from Bastion Square mural, replaced with ­censorship message,” Oct. 29.

As an artist I want to start off by saying, I support public art to the fullest. Public art can be controversial. It can enhance our community and open us up to dialogue. I need to say I was greatly upset over the completed art installation at Bastion Square pertaining to injustices towards Black and Indigenous people.

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The idea of surreptitiously encrypting the acronym ACAB into a piece of commissioned public art is both insulting and offensive to the public and the police. I have sold a number of pieces both my own and commissioned work. I could not imagine incorporating a political message of my belief into a piece of commissioned work, without the knowledge of the purchaser. It would be unprofessional, as well as morally unethical.

I was angered to read that the artists responsible for the work were involved in “weeks of negotiations with the city” as to how to deal with the offensive acronym. The solution to cover the letter “S” and include a lengthy notation that criticizes the city for silencing their voices seems to be almost as offensive.

I have been fortunate enough to purchase a few pieces of original art in my lifetime. Since I bought and paid for them, they belong to me. I can do whatever I wish with them.

It is my understanding that since the city owns this installation, the city should not really have to consult with anyone as to what happens with the piece. I feel that for all the good intentions on the part of the city to support public art, the cost and time taken has ended up as a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. In the end, the greater message of “More Justice, More Peace” seems to have been lost to everyone.

Rod MacPherson

Restaurant servers, wear your masks

When eating out we find that in some places not all of the staff members wear masks. The person directing us to a table might keep at a suitable distance.

However, often the person serving the meal does not wear a mask and is usually standing a foot or two away, is above us, and talking. Not good.

I have asked why no mask and been told that it is up to the individual server to decide.

It should be mandatory that at least the server wears a mask. Better yet, keep it simple and make it mandatory that masks be worn by everyone in all indoor facilities dealing with the public.

Roger Nield

Pandemic will have lingering impact

Let’s take a moment to cheer on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Before COVID-19 he had already set a milestone in increasing Canada’s debt per capita (inflation adjusted) more than any prime minister outside the Great Depression of the 1930s and the two world wars, sadly stealing that honour from his father. With COVID he now has an open field to surpass those PMs who merely had to deal with world wars or global depressions.

So while COVID will pass, we are assured the suffering will continue for generations to come.

Scott Clark

Limit cannabis to limit the virus

The authorities have strictly reduced access to bars and nightclubs to an essential minimum. Extended stays assisted by alcohol reduce inhibitions and allow the untested positives to spread the virus.

How does freely available cannabis enhance our drive to get the better of this pandemic? The answer is: It doesn’t.

Leonhard Braunizer
Brentwood Bay

A bridge would help at Kelly Road crossing

Congratulations to Colwood in pressing for a bridge on the Galloping Goose Trail and Wale Road.

I find that crossing the Island Highway by bike to be not so much a challenge at the proposed site as it is at Kelly Road and the Veterans Memorial Parkway, which requires two major street crossings versus the one.

Please consider one more key crossing site.

Larry Maydonik
James Bay


• Email letters to:

• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd.

Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

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First virtual Carmichael Art History Lecture 'absolutely fabulous' – OrilliaMatters



“Absolutely Fabulous.” “A wonderful presentation, truly exceptional experience of art and land.” “A true labour of love.”

These were some of the online comments about Jim and Sue Waddington and their presentation, “In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson.”

The Waddingtons appeared live via Zoom at the first ever virtual Carmichael Art History lecture hosted by the Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH) on Oct. 21. 

When the OMAH History Committee, who coordinates this annual OMAH fundraiser, confirmed with the Waddingtons that the lecture planned for May would have to be cancelled, Jim and Sue rose to the occasion.

“Would you be interested in holding the lecture virtually?”

They were keen to help OMAH with their fundraising efforts by sharing their story this way.

Forced to step outside their comfort zone, OMAH and the History Committee partnered with the Waddingtons to make this virtual event a huge success.

Through their rich narration Jim and Sue shared with viewers a snapshot of their 43-year quest to find the over 800 actual sites where the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson painted, exhibiting their stunning photographs of the locations that mirrored each particular sketch or painting.

Special for the Orillia audience, they included many details about the Orillia-born Franklin Carmichael. 

The audience was also treated to a “reveal” of the location where Carmichael painted Old Barns, Miner’s Bay, the painting OMAH hopes to purchase, which is in the la Cloche region of Ontario, not in the Minden area as was first thought.

It was a wonderful evening. Thanks go to the Waddingtons and to the community for supporting this event.

OMAH will be sending out a general survey regarding future virtual programming. In addition, a survey will be sent specifically to attendees at the virtual Carmichael Art History Lecture. We want to hear about what is in important to you so we can develop rich online experiences that meets your needs and interests.

OMAH is committed to find ways to stay connected to the community both at the museum and virtually. Stay tuned for more virtual programming in the future.

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