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Seven public art installations bring Oakville together – Oakville News



At the intersection of creativity, inspiration, and community emerges a Public art installation geared to delight Oakville residents in the purest form of communication – Art. From July 1st throughout summer, residents are invited to engage in “ConNextions” – an art installation showcasing the work of seven local emerging and professional artists, including:

The event is created as a platform to spark a sense of belonging in the community and help Oakville residents create connections (explaining its name Connextions ). More than an art exhibit, it is a medium of communication bridging the mind of Oakville’s creative spirits and the heart of the larger community. In fact, Toni DI Risio – culture program supervisor with the Town of Oakville, weighed in on the event.  “Public art plays an important role in building community, promoting dialogue, and fostering a sense of belonging. Over the course of the summer, the Town of Oakville hopes that residents will take the opportunity to engage, explore, and be inspired by the works of local emerging and professional artists with strong connections to Oakville.”

Read on to unearth the installations set up at this innovative event, and meet the people bringing this to reality.

Hannah Veiga – A Seat in Serendipity

Installation at Pondview Pond Walk – 490 Pondview

“I wanted to create something that would inspire others and provide a moment of observation to the elements of nature we often overlook.” These are the words of Hannah Veiga, a multi-disciplinary artist living in Oakville and graduate from the University of Waterloo Honours Fine Arts Program, speaking about her piece ‘A Seat in Serendipity.’

 1) What inspired you to create this piece?

“I’ve been doing pyrography, also known as wood-burning, for a little over 6 months now. I was so excited at the opportunity to make something that would get more public recognition and would hopefully be exciting for the community to experience. I frequent this trail on my bicycle rides, and every time I pass through Pondview, I need to stop and take a few minutes to enjoy the life that exists in this little nook of the neighbourhood. I wanted to create a piece that would incorporate all of the little elements of nature that we often overlook and provide a pleasant surprise for anyone else who enjoys this trail regularly.”

2) What does Oakville need to know? 

“The designs on this bench have been drawn and then hand-burned with a heat pen tool. All of the elements that you will find within the design are plants and creatures I found in this park. I encourage everyone to spend as much time as they’d like with the piece and find all of the different plants, birds, and insects!”

3) What is the importance of appreciating this exhibit?

“I think the beauty of this exhibit is how every artist has expressed their connection to Oakville in different ways. It is an amazing opportunity for the community to explore the different parks of Oakville and discover local artist’s work.”

4) Anything you wish to express.

“I’m grateful to call this beautiful city my home and to be given such an amazing opportunity with ConNextions!”

Heather J. A. Thomson – Minor Alterations: Oakville

Installation at Shell Park – 3307 Lakeshore Road West

“Our dire environmental situation and how people are informed about it is the driving force behind my piece,” explained Heather J.A. Thomson describing her piece ‘Minor Alterations’ – an installation of six painted picnic tables, with exceeding significance. The piece not only inspires the viewer to take action towards a sustainable future, but it also draws a parallel between how small steps can make a huge impact.

1) What inspired you to create this piece?

“I think it’s important to share the facts, but I also think continual bad news is counterproductive. At a certain point, Climate Change can become so overwhelming that taking action feels pointless. I created Minor Alterations Postcard in 2019 to start an optimistic dialogue and show how small things really do make a difference. My piece for ConNextions is an expansion of this project.”

2) What does Oakville need to know?

“The painted picnic tables at Shell Park are only part of my piece for Connextions. I’m also creating a digital sustainable habits resource and want to hear from the community. Information submitted through my website or the onsite QR codes will be included in the resource and shared on Instagram because sustainability is better when we do it together.”

3) What is the importance of appreciating this exhibit?

“It’s important to remember that we as individuals have power. We can make a difference. Plus, living sustainably doesn’t have to mean radical changes. I share my habits to show sustainable living isn’t difficult and to hopefully inspire others to embrace it as well.”

4) Anything you wish to express.

“ConNextions presents an opportunity to engage with new audiences, and I’m honoured to be a part of it.”

Shahrzad Amin – Bridge Obscura

Installation at Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts – 130 Navy Street

“My inspiration came from two bridges in Isfahan, the Khaju and the Allah Verdikhan,” explained Shahrza, an Iranian-Canadian interdisciplinary artist based in Oakville, illustrating the creative direction of her piece ‘Bridge Obscura.’. Examining diasporic and socio-cultural subjectivities through the lens of art-making, sensory ethnographic filmmaking, architectural design, and language, the installation is inspired by Shahrzad’s interests in human rights, equality, and migration.

1) What inspired you to create this piece?

“My inspiration came from two bridges in Isfahan, Iran. The Khaju and the Allah Verdikhan. In the Safavid era, they were initially used in support of imperial aspirations for staking out and controlling territory. Later, they became integral to improving communication and facilitating trade. Along the way, their significant and majestic architectural details turned them into desirable places for recreation and leisure, giving them a function that was unforeseen by the builders.

Today, they are spaces where opposites meet, connect, and collide; young and old, traditional and modern, conservative and progressive are all spotted together, sharing common ground under the arches of these bridges.

I walked on these bridges often when I was in Isfahan. Since then, they have fascinated me for their social functions, beauty of forms and patterns, historical significance, and power in highlighting the cultural and artistic strengths of a place. My relationship with the bridges changed and intensified in the absence or with distance, as they have become emblematic of the cultural connections that I have lost in moving to a new country across the ocean. When preparing the artwork, I tried to tap into my memories and biographical details to invoke the vibrancy of these bridges and provide insights into the range of elements (spatial, aesthetic, architectural, cultural and affective) that they connect. Here, I use the word connect intentionally to make a reference to the way bridges function as connectors not only in a physical sense but also in the sense that they link individuals to place, history, and culture.”

2) What does Oakville need to know?

“I wish that the viewers of my work know that, as an immigrant, I always look for a metaphorical bridge between my Iranian roots and culture and my new nationality as a Canadian citizen. Lack of connection makes me afraid, specifically because the opportunities for Iranian people to connect with the rest of the world are becoming increasingly scarce due to political and religious differences. The bridges of Isfahan are sites of memory/experience in themselves, as well as being locations of culture; therefore, I see in them the potential to act as potent metaphors for the cultural connections that are missing. Through art practice and sensory ethnography methodology, I experiment with my installation to create a space of cultural and experiential exchange in a climate of isolationism and to alleviate cultural misperceptions about Iran as a country that represents alterity, threat, violence, and terror.”

3) What is the importance of appreciating this exhibit.

“My hope is that it encourages contemplation on socio-cultural connectivity and allows people from different cultural backgrounds to experience a part of Iranian vernacular life in a way that they weren’t familiar with before.

It might be worth noting here that, nowadays, the world finds itself in a state of global isolation due to the pandemic. This occurrence suddenly gives my project new significance. More specifically, people and institutions around the world felt the need to transcend physical and political boundaries to create alternative and virtual spaces for communication. In that climate, art and artists stepped in generated alternative channels to give people a sense of togetherness and awareness of common interests and needs. Overcoming isolation highlighted the need for and potential of creativity. This occurrence made me think about the potential of my own piece in a new light, in terms of generating a space for highlighting isolation as an effect that can be shared and, perhaps, overcome through compassionate and collective engagements.”

4)  Anything you wish to express.

“I want to express my sincerest appreciation to the Town of Oakville for giving me this opportunity to exhibit my artwork at such an appropriate location.

Thank you to all the viewers of my sculpture installation. Their attendance to visit my work means a lot to me.

Special thanks to Tonia Di Risio (Program Supervisor-Culture at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre) for organizing this project. Her help and support to facilitate the process of making and installing the art pieces are appreciated and valued.

I also want to thank Andrew Moyer (Technical Services Coordinator at Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts) for his Technical support.

Last but not least, special thanks to my brother-in-law, Ali Reisi, for assisting me in preparing the piece to install in the public space.”

Melanie Billark – Stronger Together – Upcycled Plastic Bag Textile

Installation at Westwood Park – 170 Wilson Street

“The dichotomy between our efforts in becoming a more sustainable country and how the pandemic forced us to increase our use of single-use plastics inspired this piece.” Melanie Billark, recipient of the Client Arts Award (2019), the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects Ground Award (2017) and Sheridan College and OCAD alumna, spoke about her piece ‘Stronger Together’.

1) What inspired you to create this piece?

“I was inspired by Canada’s Single-Use Plastic Ban that was supposed to be put in place this year; however, it will likely get pushed due to the pandemic.  The dichotomy between our efforts in becoming a more sustainable country to how the pandemic has had the opposite result, pushing our consumption of single-use plastics. With the ban approaching, I wanted to create a new life or purpose for all of these bags instead of then going into the landfill, so I created a textile with the bags to make a subtle but colourful installation using the bags collected from the community.”

2) What does Oakville need to know? 

“This installation is made from 668 plastic bags that were collected from community members and woven into the existing pavilion. I created a reusable and waterproof textile that I can reuse for different works of art after the installation!”

3) What is the importance of appreciating this exhibit.

“I wanted to create a space for conversation and contemplation. I hope this installation allows people to think about sustainability and inspire them to upcycle – thinking about how we consume and how we can use and repurpose our waste to make something beautiful.”

4) Anything you wish to express.

“For further information and my process, please check out my social media; you can find me on  Instagram and TikTok @melanie.billark or check out my website at:

Tazeen Qayyum –  Hope is the Thing With Feather 

Installation at Memorial Park – 120 Oak Park Boulevard

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the face mask has become the symbol of the pandemic. On the one hand, it represents the hardships, separation, distance, and restriction, but at the same time, it is also a symbol of survival, care, resilience, and protection,” says Tazeen Qayyum, a contemporary artist living and working in Oakville who is also a recipient of the ‘Excellence in Art Award’ by Canadian Community Arts Initiative (2015).

1) What inspired you to create this piece?

“It is a timely inspiration considering the ramifications of the pandemic. Collecting and repurposing used masks from the community, inspired by collected stories, I wanted my work to be uplifting and convey a festive mood with the message of hope and love. 

As a practicing artist, I have specialized in miniature painting of the South Asian and Persian tradition, and many times my work is inspired by this unique vocabulary. In this work, within the natural setting of the park, I have created a fantastical landscape inspired by the Indian Ragamala paintings that conveys a festive and uplifting mood, transcending cultures.”

2) What does Oakville need to know?

“Along with the installation, the project has an engaging component of community participation. I am requesting residents of Oakville and beyond to send their personal reflections on the past year and their experience during the pandemic. All the collected stories are compiled on the project’s website and will continue to grow as our collective reflection, highlighting the community’s ongoing struggles, resilience, and inspirations.”

3) What is the importance of appreciating this exhibit.

“As a community project, this artwork celebrates the spirit of community building and the unquestionable strength in coming together as a nation in such difficult times. Like Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘Hope Is The Thing With Feathers’, the installation portrays a hope that lives within us all, and that must be protected, nurtured, cherished, and shared no matter how hard the times get.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the face mask has become the symbol of the pandemic. Obligatory in many countries, the mask culture has now become part of our daily lives, customs, discussions, and practices. On the one hand, it represents the hardships, separation, distance, and restrictions, but at the same time, it is also a symbol of survival, care, resilience, and protection. It can be rightfully said that this simple, inexpensive object has become a powerful image and representation of our collective experience. 

As a community project, it celebrates the spirit of community building and the unquestionable strength in coming together as a nation in such difficult times. Like Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘Hope Is The Thing With Feathers’, the installation portrays a hope that lives within us all, and that must be protected, nurtured, cherished, and shared no matter how hard the times get.”

To read all the collected expressions, visit ,  and to add your own story, email the artist at [email protected]


Quinn Hopkins – Generations 

Installation at Lions Valley Park – 1227 Lions Valley Road

Aerosol paint, acrylic paint, canvas, plywood, plexiglass, and augmented reality on Instagram. These are only some of the things that make Quinn Hopkins, a 23-year old multidisciplinary Anishinaabe artist, someone whose work you need to see at ConnectXions. 

1) What inspired you to create this piece?

“The park heavily inspired this piece, the moccasin trail that runs through the park, the people that visit the park, and the animals that live in the park.”

2) What does Oakville need to know? 

“On the inside of this piece is a stretched canvas that represents a piece of deer hide that is traditionally used to make moccasins and clothing. The patterns cut out of it are for seven pairs of moccasins that represent seven generations. This piece is called generations because I want you to think about the lives of the next few generations; what will they need to have a good and fulfilling life? I believe passing on greenspaces and protecting them is an important role in this.”

3) What is the importance of appreciating this exhibit.

“To respect our green spaces, to take care of the land, cleaning up after ourselves and others. To see the beauty in diversity.”

Ignazio Colt Nicastro – An Echo of Oakville

Installation at Glen Abbey Community Centre – 1415 Third Line

“My sculptural practice is relatively new, especially as an emerging artist overall. Within it, I have really enjoyed working with shattered mirrors,” said Ignazio Colt Nicatro – an emerging multi-disciplinary artist, curator, and writer based in Oakville.

1) What inspired you to create this piece?

“My sculptural practice is relatively new, especially as an emerging artist overall, but within it, I have really enjoyed working with shattered mirrors. The mirrors allow for a literal and metaphorical use of self-reflection, allowing my viewers to reflect on whatever subject I present them. With this piece, I immediately knew I wanted to reflect something onto the residents of Oakville, but I truly didn’t know how to convey a community of identities in one piece – so I let them decide for themselves. I gathered community submissions on words, places, feelings, or places that came to mind when thinking about Oakville and came with a list that mostly highlighted the Oak Leaf and Lake Ontario/Lakeshore. Now when they look at the sculpture, they not only see a physical representation of themselves but also the conceptual result of the community’s submissions. This type of reflection is exactly what I try to create with my mirror sculptures. 

For my digital sculptures, I’ve recently become interested in the digital arts and wanted to try something new – virtual reality painting. I wanted to focus more on the history of Oakville but more so to honour and acknowledge it rather than provide a step-by-step history. Without these histories, the physical sculpture couldn’t exist.”

2) What does Oakville need to know? 

“With work that is inspired by our community members and the town’s history, I think Oakville needs to do more work in educating, acknowledging, and honouring its history and past community members. I am guilty of not knowing much about the history of the work I created until I started researching it for this installation, but after doing so, I have much more agency to uncover more about what this land has offered and continues to. “

3) What is the importance of appreciating this exhibit?

“Having seven artists spread out across the wards of Oakville is something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before – and not just Oakville wise. It’s not often that a town gives its own local artists this much support, specifically their emerging artists. So by visiting and appreciating this public installation exhibition, you’re really supporting a new movement of art in Oakville’s History. The seven of us work so differently in our mediums as well, so this show also showcases how vast the world of the arts can be. 

4) Anything you wish to express.

“This project overall was honestly a big challenge for me. I’ve never made public artwork or digital paintings before, so everything about this experience was new to me. Ensuring that one of my sculptures would need to withstand nature’s wrath was something I’ve never had to do before either – it was a very exciting challenge. Putting this much time and energy into a public piece really opened my eyes to this experience and has made me appreciate public art so much more.

Aside from my involvement here as an artist, I am also the Curator and Director of a digital gallery known as IC Contemporary, where I develop free digital art galleries for emerging artists. I have also recently published my debut fantasy book ‘The Trials of Salahan’ which is available for pre-order now! “

For more information on this captivating exhibit and to get more details, look at the artists’ backstories, inspirations, and more – check out the Town of Oakville’s Website here.

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White House on defensive over Hunter Biden art sales – FRANCE 24



Issued on: 24/07/2021 – 01:08

Washington (AFP)

The White House assured Friday that necessary ethical precautions would be taken around any exhibitions and sale of artwork by President Joe Biden’s son, whose personal life and professional career have been peppered with controversy.

Asked by reporters about upcoming exhibitions of Hunter Biden’s artwork in New York’s Georges Berges Gallery, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president’s son would be “attending gallery events.”

The discussions about sales “will be happening with the gallerist” and not Hunter Biden, she said.

“That is different than meeting with prospective buyers.”

Psaki had announced July 9 that a system had been established allowing Hunter Biden to practice his profession “within appropriate safeguards,” including the confidentiality of any transactions and no contact with buyers.

At exhibits of Hunter’s work, “the selling of his art will all happen through the gallerist and the names and individuals will be kept confidential,” she said.

When pressed that a buyer could simply tell the artist that he or she is purchasing his work, Psaki stressed that a strict rules structure will be in place.

“He will not know, we will not know who purchases his art,” she said.

Contacted by AFP, the gallery did not immediately provide any comment or details.

The Biden administration, which seeks to present itself as ethically unblemished, has been repeatedly questioned about the artistic career of the 51-year-old lawyer and businessman-turned-painter.

US media point out the obvious risks of businessmen or others purchasing the artwork with the sole aim of winning access to or influence with the White House.

Press reports have said the paintings by Biden, who has had no formal training, could sell for up to half a million dollars.

Hunter Biden is one of former president Donald Trump’s favorite targets.

During the 2020 presidential campaign Trump and his supporters regularly criticized Hunter Biden for his economic interests in Ukraine and China when his father was vice president under Barack Obama.

Hunter is also the target of a federal investigation into possible tax crimes.

In a memoir published earlier this year, the president’s youngest son recounted his struggle with addiction to cocaine and alcohol.

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Art exhibits return to Callander’s Alex Dufresne gallery –



After a long hiatus, art shows are returning to the Alex Dufresne Gallery at the Callander Bay Heritage Museum this Saturday.

The works of Carole Davidson and Sara Carlin-Ball are highlighted in an exhibit entitled “Journeys to a Conversation with Nature.”

In a release promoting the show, Davidson and Carlin-Ball explain the “works display a felt presence of our natural environment in unexpected materials and surprising subjects.”

Their goal in selecting the pieces for the exhibit is to capture “the luscious spectacular that is Nature, Muse, Essence,” and emphasize how these “inspire the audience to revision their place – their gratitude and responsibility – on this Earth.”

See: Callander museum reopens from COVID with new art show

“It feels absolutely wonderful to have art back on the walls,” said Natasha Wiatr, the gallery’s curator.   

The last show was this past April but did not last long before Covid regulations closed the event. Since then, “the walls have been empty.”

“We haven’t consistently had shows in what feels like so long,” she said, and is pleased to launch what will hopefully be a long stretch of exhibits.

Currently, the gallery is booked until 2023, “and we’ve added two more shows per year,” Wiatr explained.

“We see ourselves as a community-based gallery,” she said, and as such, strive to present as many local artists as possible.

See: White Water Gallery has a new executive director

The Museum and Art Gallery are open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 – 5:00 p.m.

The gallery can hold 14 people at once, and walk-ins are welcome. Appointments can also be booked ahead of time at

Staff remind to you please wear a mask when you visit and maintain social distance.

Admission to the museum is $5 for seniors and students, $4.50 for kids 6-12, free for children under 6 and adults pay $5.50. Family rate for 4 is $15. Entrance to the gallery is by donation.

See: Mattawa museum celebrates reopening with Community exhibit

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Callander museum reopens with art show – The North Bay Nugget



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The art show Journeys to a Conversation with Nature will reopen the Callander Museum and Alex Dufresne Gallery Saturday.

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The works of Carole Davidson and Sarah Carlin-Ball will remain on display to Aug. 20.

“There is an essential longing for life that erupts in a luscious spectacular that we call Nature,” the artists said in a statement.

“The human animal is a part of this longing for life that some might call a Muse – a Muse for artists of every passion and discipline. Artists are at the mercy of their muse and transcribe whatever is whispered to them about life, people, and the compelling natural environment they belong to.

“One may be a studied artist haphazardly trained while another may be an experimental soul, interpreting the ever-changing environment around her.”

Influenced by the gifts of their lives and the natural offerings around them, each artist interprets what touches her soul. Each piece of art tells a portion of her journey, calling to the viewer to look more closely at what life has to teach us.

Carlin-Ball’s muse slumbered as she was raising her children and working. As soon as she could make time, there was an explosion of experimentation driven by her mantra ‘What would happen if…?’

Mistakes happily romped with successes. Now, her careful, unique presentations interpret life and nature, and challenge one’s imagination.

As she learned of the melting of the muskeg and the possibility that Canada will soon lose that habitat and vibrant spring bloom, Carlin-Bell felt the compulsion to replicate that vital image with unexpected media: patinated and fired copper was punched and threaded through with fibre knotted to create the blooms and surface stems.

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Eventually, the vibrant muskeg spring emerged.

One of Carole Davidson’s pieces of art which will be on display at the Callander Museum and Alex Dufresne Gallery until Aug. 20Submitted Photo
One of Carole Davidson’s pieces of art which will be on display at the Callander Museum and Alex Dufresne Gallery until Aug. 20Submitted Photo

For Davidson, nature was a refuge she quietly celebrated with natural and cultivated talent for art and writing. A busy and brief career in graphic design took over until disabling MS symptoms forced (or allowed) her to slow down.

She began a meditation practice to cope with symptoms and immediately began painting again.

Her creative work parallels her spiritual path and the subjects of her study get smaller and smaller as she has the opportunity to stop and notice. She finds joy in a yellow spider on a sunflower or a nest full of baby robins.

Together, their works display a felt presence of our natural environment in unexpected materials and surprising subjects.

The Museum and Art Gallery are open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments can be booked ahead of time at and the museum and gallery also welcome same-day walk-ins.

Those visiting are asked to wear a mask and social distance.

The museum and art gallery are located at 107 Lansdowne St. E., Callander.

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