Opening night for the new exhibition at Cline House Gallery was being held in downtown Cornwall on Thursday, the special show featuring the artwork of three artists originally from the city – Gaetanne Lavoie, Stephanie Hill and Cori Marvin.
All three moved on from Cornwall, creating new art in different cities and locations, but they’re back, each of them for the first time featuring a full collection of work in their hometown.
“We’ve been following their careers for a while,” said Emily MacLeod, who owns and operates Cline House Gallery and OBO Studios along with Tracy-Lynn Chisholm, and where professional established and emerging Canadian artists are featured in a regular rotation of exhibits.
Chisholm and MacLeod were once classmates with Marvin at St. Lawrence Secondary School. In fact, all five were students at St. Lawrence, at various times, all five at one point taught by Rod Chan, a long-time and now retired art teacher, going back as far as to when the school was located at the current-day La Citadelle site.
Who was one of the visitors to Cline House Gallery for a special sneak peek on Thursday afternoon? Art teacher Chan.
That exhibit title, Homecoming Queens, seemed like a natural for the show, MacLeod said, adding “it’s a bit like a weird high school reunion.”
MacLeod and Chisholm began putting out feelers for this group exhibit last summer, contacting the artists individually. The stars eventually aligned, for an exhibition that runs to May 2.
For Hill, it’s been a long time in the making – the last time she exhibited in Cornwall was 27 years ago, in 1993, when she was on the Cornwall Regional Art Gallery board. Hill lives in Wakefield, Que., north of Ottawa, where she’s on the board of the Outaouais not-for-profit promoter of arts and culture Place des Artistes de Farrellton, the treasurer at the artist co-operative.
Marvin lives in Northumberland County, and she’s an award-winning full-time artist and illustrator.
Lavoie, who’s lived in San Francisco, New York, Kingston and Toronto, has a master of fine arts from both the New York Academy of Art and the San Francisco Academy of Art University. Lavoie has been back in Cornwall for a few months, and while here she’ll be doing studio workshops at the facility.
“We’ve got two booked so far, and if they go well we’ll book some more,” MacLeod said.
Last spring, international denim brand FDJ French Dressing Jeans had a fashion shoot at Cline House Gallery and OBO Studios for a global campaign, the event heightening the visibility of Cornwall’s art community. The shoot had world-renowned photographer Donat Boulerice capturing the essence of art while working with two New York City-based international fashion models.
The gallery, at 204 Second St. E., has original art in a variety of styles and subjects for collectors, with open hours Wednesday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
OBO stands for “our beautiful obsession,” the owners holding workshops in what they consider a creative sanctuary.
The brave new world that is physical distancing has hit the arts community harder than most, if not all, sectors.
No more tours. No more shows. No more face-to-face interaction, at least in the flesh.
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To that end, the Vancouver Art Gallery is returning some semblance of human connection to the fold with the introduction of its Arts Connect series.
Launching Tuesday, March 31, the new series will focus exclusively on “online gatherings that encourage dialogue and connection during this new age of physical distancing,” according to a news release from the art gallery.
“Art has the power to connect individuals, communities and cultures,” reads a press release from the art gallery. “No matter its form, art encourages communication, broadens perspectives, enriches the mind and renews the spirit. During challenging times, art can uplift the community through enriching and culturally meaningful experiences.
The new program is free to join and weekly conversations will be live-streamed on the gallery’s Zoom channel. Upon registering, attendees can submit questions and chat directly with fellow attendees during the live stream.
Art Connects makes its maiden voyage at 1:30 p.m. on March 31, when curators Grant Arnold and Mandy Ginson will preview the exhibition, The Tin Man Was A Dreamer: Allegories, Poetics and Performances of Power.
“Presented at a time that coincides with presidential and congressional election campaigns in the United States, The Tin Man Was a Dreamer: Allegories, Poetics and Performances of Power is a subtle response to this historical moment,” notes a news release from the art gallery.
Another session is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on April 3.
A link to register for Tuesday’s online webinar can be found HERE.
EDITOR’S NOTE:This series of profiles of some of the creative Nova Scotians working behind-the-scenes in the film and TV industry at home and abroad was begun before the COVID-19 outbreak. We are running it now to highlight the talents of those who will be working to help get the cameras rolling again once things are under control, either with years of experience under their belts, or just getting started in the world of media production.
When Halifax-based film and television art director Matt Likely first heard that director Robert Eggers was considering making his gothic cinematic nightmare The Lighthouse in Nova Scotia, he thought it was too good to be true.
Likely had seen Eggers’ previous feature The Witch, and loved the care taken to make its 17th century New England setting come alive. He was also aware that its production designer
Craig Lathrop was an old friend who’d hired him on three previous projects, including the 2007 thriller Stuck, shot in Likely’s home town of Saint John by the late horror maestro Stuart Gordon.
Then came Lathrop’s phone call in November of 2017.
“He told me a little bit about the project and that they’d be scouting some locations in Nova Scotia,” recalls Likely. “He had all kinds of questions for me, he had never done a show here, so he was asking about local crews and whether there’d be enough people to do a project of this size.”
Lathrop told Likely they were planning to build a 70-foot lighthouse, and were looking for the perfect rugged coastline to place it on. Even with his enthusiastic sales pitch for Nova Scotia film crews, Likely thought it was still a longshot that The Lighthouse would come here, but that soon changed.
“Then Craig and Robert Eggers and some of the producers came in December, and toured some of the locations with Nova Scotia location manager Shaun Clarke,” he says. “He took them to Yarmouth and they looked at Cape Forchu, and they loved it.
“The harshness of it, the vista, all of it.”
In January, Lathrop returned and he and Likely were working on a budget, “trying to figure out a way to build this damned lighthouse.
“It was a combination of all kinds of different elements to build it, but Craig had a good idea in mind when he came to town, he’d been thinking about it for a long time, but he brought me in as the art director and I brought in more of the local crew like Kevin Lewis as the key scenic artist.”
Working on an Academy Award-nominated feature film is exactly the kind of thing Likely dreamed of doing when he had his first major assignment; as a graphic artist on the locally-shot remake of the 1970s figure skating romance Ice Castles in 2001.
He jokes that he didn’t even know how the film industry worked when he first got hired, working his way up from designing signs and building props to designing sets, “coming up honestly through the industry” to eventually becoming an art director.
His role is to help to match filmmakers’ visions for their projects in the sets and other constructions required, usually on a budget and working with locations that often need to be altered or dressed accordingly.
Likely says the most fun thing is to design and build sets, either in a studio or on location, starting from scratch to provide a unique background for a given scene, with a distinctive visual look.
“You’ve got more freedom,” he says of that approach. “There are always budgetary concerns, but at least you’re custom-making something for the script and making all the choices from the ground up.
“You’re choosing the trim for the door, or the type of wallpaper, the colour of the walls or the ceiling height. All of those choices dictate the kind of space you’re going to have.”
Following The Lighthouse, upcoming Halifax-shot projects bearing Likely’s stamp include the cryogenic lab he built for Seth Smith’s horror/sci-fi hybrid Tin Can and the post-apocalyptic streetscapes he sketched out for the miniseries based on Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.
“I’ve been lucky,” he says. “We had problems with the tax credit situation in 2015, and a few of my friends have moved away to work in Toronto and Vancouver. I had just bought a house here in Dartmouth and I wanted to make a go of it here.
“I had been working my way up through the art department, getting to design and art direct some smaller projects, and then I had the great fortune to do production design for Weirdos, for (director) Bruce McDonald, and I was almost pinching myself at the time.”
There was a lot about the Cape Breton-shot Weirdos that attracted Likely, from the fact it would be shot in black and white to the 1970s era it was designed to evoke. Soon after he’d be assigned to a project even more unhinged, the CBC-TV comedy series Cavendish, about supernatural happenings in a small Prince Edward Island town, dreamed up by former members of the Picnicface troupe.
“I felt like once (co-creators Andy Bush and Mark Little) saw what we could do, they were upping the ante each time,” he says of the series that presented a different challenge with each episode.
“Whether it was creating a wax statue of Fred Penner or an edition of the Necronomicon: The Book of the Dead. It was just one thing after another, and I feel so lucky to be able to work with such talented people.”
On and off the set, Likely works hand-in-hand with construction coordinators, scenic artists, set builders and props masters. “The craftspeople I’ve worked with here are incredible,” says the art director who was amazed at how quickly things moved for The Lighthouse once it was a go, and Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson were slated to star as the film’s two combative “wickies.”
“But I was most excited by the thought of what we were going to build, it was all beyond what I had ever managed as far as being an art director goes,” he says. “It just came together so well. We did it, we had paint drying just before the camera started rolling, it was unbelievable.”
With Tin Can and Books of Blood about to see the light of day, and the Stephen King-inspired mini-series Jerusalem’s Lot waiting to begin production once things return to normal, Likely calls The Lighthouse a game-changer that should continue to build momentum for the film industry. “We needed a win, basically,” he says.
“Even without the Oscar nomination for cinematography, the popularity and the reception of the movie in terms of the reviews and so on were huge for us. We’re always wanting to prove ourselves here, and maybe there isn’t as strong an opinion about the industry here as there would be somewhere more established, in Toronto or Vancouver or the States.
“But for a film like that to come here, which required all these skills and trades to not only deliver what was required but to have it be praised so highly after the fact. That sort of thing is huge, and certainly builds confidence for anyone who wants to come and film here.”
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