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Fine art printmaking in a Zoom World: Shoebox Studio on surviving back-to-back slowdowns –



Had all gone to plan, this year was supposed to be the turnaround for businesses on Elgin Street, after a bitter year-long street renewal project that had decimated foot traffic and left many small business owners to fend for themselves.

Sam Hopkins, the owner of the boutique printshop Shoebox Studio, can rattle off the casualties: Pure Gelato, Boko Bakery, Tokyo Shop — all closed, either directly or indirectly, by the big dig. Last year was rough, but 2020 was meant to mark the start of the way back. 

And then the other shoe — yeah, we all know which one — dropped. 

“To be hit with the lockdown right after the construction was tough,” Hopkins said, in a bright, windowed studio overlooking the corner of Elgin and MacLaren. “There’s a lot of empty storefronts already. That’s really scary.” 

Shoebox Studio would not be a business that lives and dies on foot traffic. It’s a print shop, so customers usually have a reason to be in the studio. Shoebox was able to weather the dig better than others. 

COVID-19 posed a different challenge for Hopkins though, turning the studio from a place where artists, photographers and the general public could drop by and collaborate on a print project into an appointment-only space. While he readily admits that other businesses are far deeper in the muck than he has been, things have still been tough; for four months, nobody entered the studio but Hopkins. 

“The business model is collaborative — having the artist in the space. That’s what the business is based on,” Hopkins said. Hopkins’ vision of the studio was one where artists could come in, open their files alongside Hopkins, talk about papers and inks and techniques. “I still came in every day, and did as much as I could digitally. The best I could do was say ‘Hey, send me any files if you can.’ But all those in-person meetings couldn’t happen.” (How do you show off different paper types on Zoom? Wave it around, he says, only half-joking. “I’m saying, like, ‘listen to this!’”)

27-07-20-_DSF5004Sam Hopkins examines a roll of paper in his Shoebox Studio. Kieran Delamont/OttawaMatters.

In some sense, a challenging environment is the only one Shoebox has ever existed in, and has thrived nonetheless. On August 1, it will turn two years old; nearly its entire lifespan has been spent in the shadow — first of the construction, then of COVID-19. 

Shoebox is not your average printshop — “we’re not doin’ $3 8×10’s” — catering to perfectionists (as Hopkins might self-identify) and people with particular needs. Within Ottawa’s creative community, Shoebox enjoys a stellar reputation, both for quality and the level of work that goes into each piece. 

“You can always just hit CTRL+P and print an image,” Hopkins says, explaining his philosophy (and justifying his correlated price points). “The advantage of Shoebox is all the extra time and interest we’ll put into making it correct.” That means you’re also paying for: his thoughts on paper choice, his thoughts on ink choice, test strips, proofing prints, proactive edits on every single image, adjustments, re-adjustments and everything else that goes into getting something as close to perfect as he can get it. 

Hopkins works in a printmaking field enjoying something like a renaissance in recent years. Digital photos, social media and all-digital workflows, which have increasingly dominated since the turn of the century, nearly turned trained printmakers into fossils. 
“Print can be forgotten,” he said. “But alongside the resurgence of analog (photography), there’s been a resurgence in printing.”
Artists using digital mediums, digital cameras and even mobile phones are now beginning to rediscover the beautiful alchemy by which printed work comes to life. 

As the COVID-19 lockdown starts to lift, Hopkins has the sense that this trend will continue, even if the gallery show jobs — he calls them “the best and biggest jobs” — are “not going to happen, for a while.” But there’s still art being created, shared and sold. The creative economy chugs along. 

“What we’re seeing, post-lockdown, is far more new clients, far more new artists,” he said. Part of it, he thinks, is creatives with some disposable CERB money, looking to support their own industries. Others are people “who were stuck at home, musing about doing stuff with their art.” 

And in that position, Hopkins has had a bit of a front-row seat to the creative incubation of the whole experience. Lockdown was a clear “creative dead zone,” he calls it, but as it is lifting, he is seeing Ottawa’s creatives come to life again. 

“I’m seeing,” he said, thoughtfully, “the result of a post-lockdown creative overflow.” 

27-07-20-_DSF5006Sam Hopkins examines a roll of paper in his Shoebox Studio. Kieran Delamont/OttawaMatters.

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ARTS AROUND: Exploring nature with summer art camps – Alberni Valley News





The next children’s art workshop, from Aug. 11-14, will let children explore the garden at the Rollin Art Centre to create things with nature.

Art workshops are for children aged 9-11 and take place every Tuesday–Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. Learn a new medium each week. The last workshop of the summer will be Drawing II from Aug 18-21.

Art workshops will be held outside to follow social distancing guidelines. The cost is $50 per week. Workshops are very limited, as only five children will be allowed to register per week. Register today by emailing or call 250-724-3412.


The Rollin Art Centre will be holding its last creative writing workshop on Monday, Aug. 17 for ages 10-12. The theme is Movies and Theatre. The workshop runs from 10 a.m. noon and costs $12. Spots are limited, so register today by emailing


After being closed for three months, the Rollin Art Centre is excited to re-open with an amazing art exhibit.

“TOGETHER” features five local artists, who collaborated over the past few months to create a truly spectacular show. This display features the collaborative talents of Cecil Dawson, Allen Halverson, Nigel Atkin, Lori Shone-Kusmin and Jennifer Taylor. This exciting exhibit touches upon significant social issues and features First Nations paintings, surfboard designs, carved river otters, drawings, cedar paddles and so much more.

We invite you to join us in the gallery. Our hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed: no admittance without a face mask, hand sanitizing, limited number of patrons and directional signage. Please enter through the upstairs landing.


Due to COVID-19, we did not have our annual giant book sale fundraiser in May, but now you can purchase a mystery bag of books and help out Rollin Art Centre.

You won’t know what is in the bag until you get it home—surprise! For just $20 you will get 10 books, all in the same genre, and you will be helping Rollin Art Centre during this difficult time.

The genres are fiction, romance, mystery, children’s chapter books (e.g. Nancy Drew), regular children’s books, biographies and variety bags (random genres).

This is an important fundraiser for us. Purchase online through e-transfer at Please be sure to include your name and contact info. Or pay by cheque/exact cash when you pick up. Please call 250-724-3412 to arrange for pick up.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to postpone our biggest fundraiser. So we have decided to hold a mini book sale and combine it with an artisan market.

This event will be held on the grounds of the Rollin Art Centre on Saturday, Aug. 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a large selection of great quality bargain books, children’s books and puzzles, plus several local artisans with their displays of jewelry, pottery, wood and more.

The public’s support for Rollin Arts Centre is greatly needed and much appreciated! Please note that we will collect names and telephone numbers of those attending in the event that contact tracing becomes necessary. We require social distancing, face masks and the use of hand sanitizer upon entry and exit to this event. The Rollin Art Centre is located at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Argyle Street.


The news is out – we have a new venue for this year’s annual giant book sale!

We need your help, especially this year, to raise much needed funds. Mark your calendars for Friday, Nov. 6 (6-8 p.m.) and Saturday, Nov. 7 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), when the Community Arts Council will be holding its biggest fundraiser of the year with our annual Giant Book Sale at the Alberni Athletic Hall.

This year promises to be the best year yet, with thousands of wonderful books and all the space we will have to spread out for more selections. Due to the generous amount of book donations, we will no longer be accepting donations for this year’s book sale. Please keep them until 2021. Thank you again for your continued support.


Second and last Wednesday of each month, 7 p.m. (virtual doors 6:30 p.m.): Alberni Valley Words on Fire!

All tickets are available online through or call 250-730-1636 to charge by phone. Or etransfer “event date and email address” to Guests will receive the Zoom event link by email.

Melissa Martin is the Arts Administrator for the Community Arts Council, at the Rollin Art Centre and writes for the Alberni Valley News. Call 250-724-3412. Email:


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Stonebridge Art Gallery opens in Wasaga Beach with works of 10 local painters –



The Stonebridge Art Gallery, located in the heart of the Stonebridge Town Centre in Wasaga Beach, is now open to the public.

This ‘milestone’ event in the history of the Wasaga Society for the Arts (WSA) took place on Aug. 1 and was made possible by Stonebridge Town Centre’s Principal, Mark Crowe who generously donated the space to house the gallery and offices of the WSA.

WSA Chairman, Steven Wallace and Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi, in a display of public-private sector collaboration in promoting the arts in Wasaga Beach, together unveiled the signage. The symbolic gesture marked the simultaneous opening of both the Stonebridge Art Gallery and the WSA’s first exhibition of paintings.

Mr. Crowe, whom the WSA had planned to include in this symbolic gesture was unavoidably absent. Among others in attendance were Directors of the WSA and, from Town Hall, Deputy Mayor Sylvia Bray and Counsellors Joe Belanger and George Watson. Following the opening ceremony and well into the afternoon artists and members of the public visited the newly opened upper floor gallery where flautist Lesley Joosten set the mood with haunting, familiar melodies. Artists whose works are now on display include: Adele Derkowski, Karl Fuhre Sr., Tom Zimm, Jessalynn Sammons, Trevor Dring, Bruce Belford, Jayne Edwards, Earlene Martin, Mark Hope and Sue A. Miller.

The WSA Chairman, in his brief opening remarks, respectfully acknowledged that the event was taking place on aboriginal land that had been inhabited and cared for by indigenous peoples for centuries. He expressed gratitude to all generations of indigenous peoples for accommodating development on lands now administered by the Town of Wasaga Beach. He acknowledged and thanked Mark Crowe for his generosity and public spiritedness in providing space for human development.

“The WSA is an incorporated not-for-profit entity with charitable intent with a mission to advance the public’s appreciation of all disciplines and genres of the arts,” the WSA Chairman said. In this regard, he acknowledged with gratitude the presence and contribution of Wasaga Beach artist Sue A. Miller, the WSA’s Art Curator. “The Stonebridge Art Gallery is lucky to have Sue A. Miller (as its Art Curator),” Mr. Wallace said.

The current WSA exhibition of paintings by 10 local artists is open to the public throughout August 2020, on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm. This inaugural exhibition ends with the auction of four paintings by one of Ontario’s renowned artists and late public servant, Paul Johns.

The Stonebridge Art Gallery, operated by the WSA, is located at the Stonebridge Town Centre, Wasaga Beach, at Suite #8,1 Market Lane, Wasaga Beach, ON L9Z 0B6.

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Skeleton Park neighbourhood art project encourages rest of Kingston to follow their creative lead – Global News



Limestone City, get creative.

That’s the challenge from Kingston’s Union Gallery. It comes on the heels of the very successful COVID-19-inspired Next Door: A Skeleton Park Neighbourhood Art Project.

There’s no doubt the 16 art installations scattered throughout the downtown area helped to brighten things up in these not so colourful times.

Read more:
How Kingston is doing good, staying connected during the coronavirus pandemic

Diane Black is a Kingston artist taking part in the project.

“They had big plans for the music festival and that obviously wasn’t going to happen, so what are they going to do to keep the neighbourhood sort of engaged with the artists that live here,” Black said.

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“So I thought that this was a brilliant turn-around.”

Skeleton Park Arts Festival goes virtual

Skeleton Park Arts Festival goes virtual

And so do others. Black’s contribution is called “Schooling”. It’s acrylic on canvas draped across the front of her house. The “school” of fish in the piece is moving together, which the artist hopes will encourage viewers to reflect on how the community is moving together through a challenging time. Madelaine Nelson lives in the neighbourhood.

“It’s wonderful. During isolation and lockdown, people had all sorts of time of their hands all of a sudden and it’s great to know that people used it for creative means,” said Madelaine Nelson, a resident of the neighbourhood.

“Their life didn’t go on pause — it wasn’t on hold — they kept creating and kept the community thriving.”

Read more:
Kingston political, academic, economic forces team up to guide organizations through COVID-19

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Skeleton Park’s Next Door project comes to a close on Aug. 17. Now, the Queen’s University-based Union Gallery wants the entire city to create and display works of art in front of their homes with “My Door YGK”. Carina Magazzeni is director at the gallery.

“A lot of the artists as a part of Next Door were very creative in their material approaches and we want it to be a project that anyone at any artistic level, experience can be a part of,” said Carina Magazzeni, the gallery’s director.

“So yes, become a part of My Door YGK.”


Oscar Wilde once said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe the rest of the city can get creative just like those in the Skeleton Park area.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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