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He-ART-warming: Family mural brings neighbours together – Kitchissippi Times

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The Thomsons stand in front of their finished family mural in Hintonburg. Mom Heather (left), and daughters Miriam and Sylvia (centre and left, respectively) painted their colourful art work on the back of their neighbour’s garage. Photo courtesy of Linda Collette.

By Maureen McEwan

This spring, a Hintonburg family found a creative way to pass time at home during the pandemic. The Thomsons mom Heather, daughters Miriam and Sylvia — decided to paint a mural in their backyard. 

Their canvas? The back of a neighbour’s garage on Carruthers Avenue. 

Heather said that her family moved into their house last summer. For a year, the cinder block wall had been the main view from their yard, kitchen and upstairs bedroom.  

“It’s just not as nice a view,” Heather said. “And so, with COVID-19, when we were home, we were looking for some activities to do and we thought ‘Hmm, maybe there’s an option to make that nicer.’”

The Thomsons left a note for their neighbour in the mailbox pitching the mural idea. The rental property’s owner, Linda Collette, was supportive of the painting project from the start.

“I said ‘I think it is a great idea!’” Linda said. “And it will just beautify the area, right, instead of looking at a brick, grey wall.”

The Thomsons had painted bird houses before but they had never painted anything on a larger scale. Heather said she and her daughters researched murals online, learning about different types of paints and processes. They developed a few artistic concepts, eventually landing on a tree design. 

Together, the three ladies ordered their paint and began the project in late April. Heather said they organized a painting schedule around their work, exercise and other daily activities. They also had to navigate the fickle spring weather. 

“We always had to take advantage of nice weather and go out and paint!” Heather said, laughing. 

As they worked, they used a “mock up” — a smaller, household-sized canvas to test the concept as it was developed in stages. 

“It was a little bit organic, where we just kind of added little bits here and there every time,” Heather said. “So we had a basic concept that we used for the mock up but it evolved as we painted it.” 

First, they began with white primer across the garage wall as the base.

Then, they worked with spray paint to layer in the sky. It was Miriam’s idea to leave some of the background primer exposed to create clouds. 

“We thought it might look nicer with little clouds poking through, instead of just blank blue at the back,” Miriam said. 

Next, they used painter’s tape to mark the tree placement and painted that larger section. With stenciling, they then began the intricate part of their painting work: The leaves. 

“Every few days, we would take a few colours of paint and we’d go outside and then each of us would take a colour or something and we’d see where there [wasn’t] enough of that colour and we’d keep adding and adding,” Miriam said. 

This month, once the mural was completed, they invited friends and family for a physically-distant unveiling of their work. Both Miriam and Sylvia said it was their favourite part of the process. 

“At the beginning, I was kind of excited because I wasn’t really sure what we would do with it (the project),” Miriam said. “But then at the end, when we had a little unveiling and invited our friends and family over, it was really fun.” 

A photo of the colourful tree mural painted by the Thomson family in Hintonburg during the pandemic.
A close up of the Thomson family mural in Hintonburg. Can you count the birds? Photo courtesy of Linda Collette.

On the tree, the Thomson ladies painted in something special.

“We hid some birds in the tree that look a lot like the leaves,” Miriam said. “So there are eight birds hidden in the tree.” 

“One of the people who came and saw it sent us back an email saying that it (the unveiling) was fun. But they also said ‘Oh, some birds would be at home in your tree!’ And then we were like ‘Well, if you look closer there actually are birds in our tree!’” Sylvia added, laughing. 

Linda attended the unveiling and Heather said she seemed very pleased with the final artwork. 

“It was really nice of her to be so enthusiastic about the project from the beginning,” Heather said.

The birds were a big hit with Linda as well. 

“I do love landscapes, in terms of art work, and I do love fall and all the colours,” Linda said. 

“It was just really inspiring — all the thought that they put into it,” she added.

During the pandemic, the project was an opportunity for a few neighbours  — Linda, the Thomsons and others  — to meet one another and connect over the creative work.

“It was just a very heartwarming, positive experience in the ‘hood,” Linda said. “And I’m sure they will be future artists!” 

“And I guess I’m just happy that I’m their neighbour,” she added.

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How I learned to stop worrying and love online art galleries – The Globe and Mail

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Joanne Virgo and her son Keenan look at an installation called The Brain, in the Douglas Coupland exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, on Feb. 15, 2015.

Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

It is from a position of great privilege that I acknowledge some of my greatest losses of this time have been the inability to travel and the inability to visit art galleries and museums. I have longed for both of these experiences like missing a faraway friend, one you are not sure when you can see again.

I have always resisted the online art experience – other than for research, it seemed as if it was beside the point. You need to be in front of the piece to really appreciate it, dammit.

COVID-19 has taught me that there’s another way to look at it.

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The National Gallery of Canada’s excellent series of “Virtual NGC” videos were a pandemic balm for me. Tom Thomson’s The Jack Pine, Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet, Annie Pootoogook’s Cape Dorset Freezer are explored in detail by curatorial staff.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a place I haven’t visited in probably 15 years, has a “3 Minutes with an Artwork” series, which I also recommend. You can learn a lot in three minutes, as it turns out, as in a knowledgeable volunteer guide’s talk about Marc-Aurèle Fortin’s painting Storm Brewing over Hochelaga, during which she discusses its contemporary resonance in the age of COVID-19.

Google’s Arts and Culture app – which I have spent countless hours using during the shutdown – allowed me to “visit” some of my bucket-list museums that I began to worry I might never actually get to. The glory of Paris’s Musée D’Orsay – the museum itself, its magnificent collection and the way the works are installed – was evident, even on my little iPhone. (The experience is better on a larger screen, though, like your laptop.)

I was moved almost to tears by Diego Rivera’s murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) (a place I have somehow never visited, despite having grown up in not-very-far-away Toronto) and by the work Frida Kahlo produced during their time there. Then I had a good laugh at the headline of a newspaper clipping the DIA included in its online exhibition Frida Kahlo in Detroit: “Wife of the Master Mural Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art.”

The Google Art experience was particularly effective, I realized, when visiting places I have been and loved. “At” the AGO, I spent time with paintings I have seen for years at every visit, so familiar yet so far away right now – works by Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven. Augustus John’s The Marchesa Casati, James Tissot’s La Demoiselle de Magasin, Paul Peel’s The Young Biologist. Seeing these works – even on my computer screen – felt like visiting home.

Visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery (which has now re-opened) online was a particularly emotional experience; the only way at the time that I could visit the place I have toured through countless times, for work and for pleasure.

Its online exhibition offering was Douglas Coupland’s 2014 show “everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything.” Looking at its intricate and whimsical Lego towers, colourful Pop Head series and his massive installation The Brain (made with thousands of found items), I felt such joy remembering what art can do, and such a loss wondering when it will ever be the same again.

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In Toronto, art lovers head to drive-in for safe Van Gogh show – CTV News

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TORONTO —
While some museums have had to cancel or postpone long-planned exhibits because of the coronavirus, organizers of a Van Gogh show in Toronto had a novel idea: offering art lovers a drive-in option.

“Of course, because of COVID, we had to think creatively,” said Corey Ross, a co-producer of the exhibit, which was initially slated to start in May and was delayed by the pandemic.

As Canada’s largest city gradually comes out of lockdown, the exhibit began this week with two viewing areas in a huge Toronto warehouse: one area with social distancing circles on the ground for those who prefer taking in their art on foot, and another for people in cars that drive right into the building.

Viewing art from inside a car provides a safe experience for people who are physically fragile, fearful of the virus or vulnerable. And it is a unique experience, said Ross.

“You’ve never had an experience like this in your car,” said Ross. “The feeling is almost as if the car is floating through the art.”

The show was set up in collaboration with the creators of “Van Gogh, Starry Night,” a hugely popular exhibit presented last year at l’Atelier des Lumieres in Paris.

CRUISING IN A PLYMOUTH

The Toronto show features a similar, digital concept: works by the Dutch painter are projected in high definition on walls and floors.

The warehouse has space for up to about 10 cars at a time, parking in designated spots.

Car engines stay off during the projection of the artworks, which is accompanied with music. The paintings are positioned so people can see them through their windshields.

Some people take photos with their kids in their lap as they spend 35 minutes in the bold, intense world of Van Gogh.

Jessica Counti, 17, came with her family for the first drive-in edition on Friday to celebrate her sister’s birthday.

“It’s just a really immersive experience that you can’t really get in a regular art gallery. So I really appreciate that, even though we can’t walk around art pieces,” she said.

Another visitor, Patrick Corcoran, took in the show from the steering wheel of his vintage 1950 Plymouth. 

“The whole thing of sitting in your car and being out and enjoying the art –- it was comfortable, it was safe. With all the stuff that’s going on in the world with the COVID, it was an experience. It was great.”

Ross said the idea is turning out to be a hit but will just be temporary.

“If you’re a car enthusiast, it’s a very special moment,” he said.

“But I think overall as soon as there’s an opportunity for the public to go back to experiencing art in the way that we love to, in groups, beside other people, where you can talk and see strangers and see how they react and be part of a community, I think we will go back to that,” Ross said.

The art hall for cars is booked almost solid through its end on August 9.

The show will remain open to pedestrians through September.

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Sudbury art crawl highlights local artists and downtown businesses – The Sudbury Star

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This year’s event will run all month in July

This year’s Downtown Sudbury Art Crawl will run all month in July. Supplied

This July, Sudbury’s downtown core will be transformed into one big showcase for local artists and local businesses alike.

Downtown Sudbury Art Crawl is back at it this year starting July 6, but with a COVID-friendly twist – artists will get the chance to display their work in shop windows, and the event will run all month long.

“In past years, the event would take place for a few hours downtown on one day. Shops would open their doors with the art displayed inside, and we would sometimes have 500 or 600 people coming downtown to explore the streets of Sudbury,” said assistant event coordinator Megan Karchie.

“But because we can’t gather in large groups this year, we have made some changes to the event.”

The Downtown Sudbury Art Crawl was founded in 2014 as a grassroots pedestrian-friendly cultural experience in the city. The event features a wide range of primarily visual artists of all experience levels in the community.

This year, instead of participating in a one-day event, businesses will feature a unique piece of art in their shop windows for the entire month. The artwork will be illuminated at night and, each week, shops will feature a different piece of art.

“Everything that is displayed within the windows is going to be put up on our new website for auction,” said Eevent coordinator Monique Legault.

“We’ve got everything from $65 to $1,500 and everything from Cambrian College grads to Gordon Drysdale and Johanna Westby.”

A new auction will run each week throughout the month, beginning on July 6 and ending on Aug. 2.

Businesses participating in this initiative include Good Luck General Store, All About Massage Day Spa, Monique Legault Studio, The Refinery, Kuppajo Espresso Bar, and many others.

“We’re trying to get people to come out and take a walk or a drive through downtown’s streets and get the chance to see what the arts community has to offer,” said Event Coordinator Monique Legault.

When Legault and Karchie jumped on board as events coordinators in January, they knew they had their work cut out for them.

“It’s been interesting. I want to say we got approval for this event from the city about three and a half weeks ago? So, it’s been non-stop. We could have waited until August, but honestly, I feel like everybody needed this so badly,” said Legault.

“We have a lot of businesses downtown that are struggling due to COVID-19, but they are all trying so hard to create this draw with the new patios and everything that they are doing, so by getting people to come in and see what they have to offer, it’s a huge opportunity.”

So far, the duo has received nothing but praise for their hard work.

“The reactions to this new format have been wonderful so far. A lot of artists have been mentioning the fact that they have nothing to look forward to. We’ve been getting praise from everybody for just trying as hard as we can to make this happen.”

Anyone interested in attending the event can visit the art crawl’s new website at www.sudburyartcrawl.com.

The website features an interactive map of participating businesses and the online auctions.

Updates about the event will also be sent out regularly via the art crawl’s newsletter and featured on their Facebook and Instagram pages (@downtownsudburyartcrawl).

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

sud.editorial@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @SudburyStar

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