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Art In Uncertain Times
Many performances, show and gigs have been cancelled and artists of all mediums are faced with loss of creative momentum and connection to their colleagues and community. Here is what some local artists are doing at home these days.
Rochelle Reynolds, M.A., B.F.A
Primarily known for her work as Founder and Artistic Director of Quarter Century Theatre (QCT), Rochelle has been channeling her efforts into film-based storytelling projects in response to self-isolation and social distancing. This has led to Teddy Bear Theatre; a series she is developing to provide educational entertainment for children. Teddy Bear Theatre is designed to teach children (and often adults as well) about the importance of friendship, kindness, compassion, and authenticity. What makes Teddy Bear Theatre special is that while it is designed to teach children, it is also teaching Rochelle a brand new skill set. While she has been involved in film and television for many years as an actor and screenwriter, Rochelle has never before been a filmmaker, and this project provides practical, hands-on experience in film, photography, and post-production. With every episode, she is learning new techniques, encountering new challenges, and setting new benchmarks. To view Teddy Bear Theatre go to https://www.qctheatre.ca/virtual-offerings
Sue A. Miller
Like many other artists, Sue was preparing for an upcoming show when Covid-19 emergency measures were implemented. “With all that being stalled, I’ve been feeling quite directionless...like the rest of a lot of artists I imagine,” says Sue. As a result, she has been experimenting with “warm-up” paintings in acrylic ink on yupo paper, a recyclable, waterproof, tree-free synthetic paper. “The pieces are a reflection of feeling directionless, and the outcome is often chaotic and busy but the process is cathartic, it pushes me to focus and simplify the composition.”
The Matthew and Richard Jazz Duo
Matthew and Richard Notarfonzo are a father and son jazz duo who have been creating themed music videos at home as a way of continuing to share their music to the community during these challenging times. View their tenor sax and jazz guitar musings:
Since September 2019, Dean Hollin has been offering a weekly broadcast called "Radio Limelite - All Things Great American Songbook" “It’s a chance for me to share with you my personal collection of songs from the Great American Songbook as well as various tidbits of knowledge and storytelling behind the music.” Dean is in the process of making available via his website, all of his past episodes. The show airs Saturday mornings from 8 to 9 am on Jewel 99.3 FM.
Ann Clifford, sculptor
“A labour of love” is how artist and youth advocate Ann Clifford describes the Art Project Gallery in Collingwood, a new fine art gallery located on Hurontario Street. The gallery features 8 Canadian sculptors, painters and photographers who first met at the Creemore Artist Centre in 2004 and have been showing together ever since. “Collectors will be inspired,” says Ann. “There is something for everyone, from new home owners, designers and builders to art enthusiasts. We also take site specific commissions.”
An accomplished sculptor, Ann works in bronze and clay, as well as large-scale woven metal sculptures which are one of her specialities. “It is a very satisfying dynamic, physical process for me to engage in as an artist. It brings my skills as a draftswoman together with my natural tendency to work in three dimension. I really enjoy making these pieces for interior and exterior environments, the larger the better! Ann’s work is in art collections internationally.
Ann is also a leading figure in experiential art therapy for youth struggling with addictive behaviour and mental health challenges. Ann currently runs an open studio program at Pine River Institute called “The Mask Project” where her sessions provide relationship building and empowerment through visual art making experiences for individuals and groups. Collaborative projects and workshops are offered to young people, parents, teachers, and front line workers in the health and human services sector. The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts has established a “Young Artists” exhibition space where you can see some of the pieces created by Ann’s Pine River students.
The Art Project Gallery is located at 33 Hurontario Street and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. You can find out more about Ann at acliffordsculpture.com
Alison Boyack, painter
From her earliest memories Alison Boyack has used imagery to recreate. The colours, textures, shapes and patterns found in flora and fauna, man-made objects and structures, are a source of wonder that she is compelled to study and translate onto canvas. Every scene she paints speaks to her on a very personal level, evoking an emotional response to its character and presence.
Alison attended the Ontario College of Art and Design, where oils became her primary medium and there she developed her technique for expressing the intricacies of light, colour and pattern to capture the essence of a subject. Travel and outdoors inspire Alison. The intricacies of pattern, the subtleties of colour, the effects of light and the diverse textures and shapes created by nature are reflected in her work and compel Alison to observe and connect and ultimately, to paint.
Alison currently has work showing at the Tremont Hall Gallery (80 Simcoe Street), until March 3, the L.E. Shore Memorial Library in Thornbury until March 4 and Council Chambers in Town Hall (pictured above left with "Summer Field"), until February 28.
Alison has a studio at 65 Simcoe Street, Pressroom Mezzanine (pictured above right).
Sherry McDougall & Marshall Postnikoff, photographers
Having moved from Mississauga a few years back, Sherry and Marshall call Collingwood home when not travelling, and have started enjoying the cultural events here. “Collingwood is full of things to do. We enjoy everything from the arts community, to the music concerts and many outdoor events. We love what Collingwood offers.” says Sherry.
Driven by a passion for travel, Sherry’s and Marshall’s interest and skill in photography has grown to where we are now exhibiting and selling our prints. “We’ve have had the opportunity to travel the world enjoying the culture and the people in the countries we visit” says Sherry. “I’m fascinated with the use of colour, light and space in my photographs and continue to explore the development of my own style. As a self-taught photographer, I enjoy creating memorable images.”
“Our style is a bit unique and has evolved in that we consider ourselves visual opportunists meaning that a lot of our work is spontaneous as we travel capturing landscapes or life images. Our travel schedules don’t always allow us to wait for the right light or circumstances,” adds Marshall “so our approach is to capture the moment and memory and convey what we saw and felt, then create the image in our own style in post-production.”
Sherry and Marshall will be participating in their second Collingwood Art Crawl at 93 Hurontario, next to Metra Fashion House. We will be showing our new work of recent travels as well as some reflections in Collingwood. We look forward to having you experience and enjoy our journeys through our photographs.
Sherry McDougall www.sherrymcdougall.com
Marshall Postnikoff www.photographybymarshall.com
Photo Credits: Clockwise from the top - Sherry McDougall, Marshall Postnikoff, Sherry McDougall
Jordan Eveland, Visual Artist
Jordan is the co-founder & director of Imaginarium Adventures in Art and this summer you can find her teaching and facilitating children’s summer art programs in Collingwood and Creemore. “Working with children and helping them to explore their creative passion with unique “hands on” experiences is an inspiration and joy for me,” says Jordan.
Jordan is a Fine Arts graduate from Fanshawe College. For the past 11 years Jordan has helped children broaden their artistic exploration with organizations like the Dufferin Arts Council, Magic of Children in the Arts, The Bay School of Art and Purple Hills Arts & Heritage Society.
“I’m a mixed media artist working with clay, wax and paint and I’m always excited to learn and share new art techniques.”
Throughout the summer Jordan will also be promoting Magic of Children in the Arts at the Collingwood Farmers’ Market Children’s Art Table.
You can find more about Jordan’s classes at: www.imaginariumadventuresinart.com .
For over 20 years, Ayrlie has organized and hosted creativity and movement classes and workshops for schools, retreats and camps, bringing together people of all ages and stages. Ayrlie is an 'out of the box' creative and inspires unique approaches to imaginative, mindful, and embodied self-expression.
“My passion is to hold safe and supportive spaces where people of all ages come together to co-create and grow. I aspire to contribute to an inclusive, dynamic and peace-full community where the real juice comes from blending the diversity of age, geography, culture and creative medium.”
You can find more about Ayrlie at www.ayrlie.ca
Susan Wismer is a local published poet. Her work appears in This Wine into Water, a chapbook published by Wintergreen Studios Press and edited by Lorna Crozier, ARC Poetry Journal 85 (Winter 2018), and the 2017 Women Artists Agenda of the Syracuse Cultural Workers.
“I wrote my first poem at age 5 – a poorly spelled, simply stated outpouring of my heartfelt yearning for a pet dog. Writing about what matters most to me has been important ever since. I am privileged now, at this time in my life, to be able to turn toward poetry and its particular power to change me and the world, for the better.”
Susan is a member of the Collingwood Public Library Writer’s Collective which meets each month at the Collingwood Public Library. This month one poem from the Collective’s 2017 anthology, Musings 2, was republished online through Your Daily Poem.
Susan was inspired by one of Collingwood’s many beautiful parks, Friendship Gardens and wrote a poem shared here for April’s National Poetry Month.
sumac, grey arms
bent under snow, crusted
ice on the foot-slid path
red arc, faded
at the bridge
iced grasses wave gold
creek water cold
in my ungloved hand
distant winter sun
snap, clang, sound
gasp, clench of wind
- Susan Wismer
Susan is currently completing a manuscript of poems and word collages exploring what it means to be to be a settler Canadian living along the southern shore of Georgian Bay. “I have learned that (Re)conciliation is not a place to return to. It is a place to create, to find, to explore.”
Inspired by Call to Action #83, a collaborative visual arts project involving 16 Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, Susan is hoping to connect with Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers, singers, spoken word artists, storytellers or artists who work with words in any way in any language to discuss a collaborative writing project.
Contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Miller, Jenn Wilkins, Michelle Fleming, Darla Anderson at the opening of Women & Water
Visual artist, Sue A. Miller uses contemplative practice, texture and the interplay of colour to express a connection to the natural world in her work. She is inspired by the shorelines around Georgian Bay as well as the coastlines of Newfoundland and immerses herself in these landscapes before she paints. Sue’s desire to connect the viewer with the canvas results in work that conveys the essence and feeling of place rather than explicit images or symbols.
Sue currently has a show at the Press Room Gallery at 65 Simcoe Street called Women & Water. Works by Sue and fellow artists, Michelle Fleming, Jenn Wilkins and Darla Anderson, speak to our primal and spiritual connection to water. Women & Water can be viewed until April 10.
For more information about Sue, her work and upcoming art classes, visit
Celebrate International Women’s Day at GIRLS NITE OUT presented by Theatre Collingwood
Theatre Collingwood is a not-for-profit professional theatre company dedicated to showcasing the finest talent in quality theatre productions. For more than 30 years, it has enriched and entertained our community by presenting and producing live professional theatre.
On March 8, Theatre Collingwood presents Girls Nite Out, an all-female, all funny, mix of stand-up and improv comedy. Led by the fearless & fabulous, Elvira Kurt, these Canadian Comedy Award Winners, CBC darlings and Second City alumni will make you laugh and cry (tears of laughter!) as they celebrate womanhood. Audience participation is encouraged, so grab your friends and join Theatre Collingwood for a fun-filled evening!
Find out more by visiting www.theatrecollingwood.ca
Alexander Art Materials / Collingwood Art School recently moved to the heart of Collingwood’s Creative Simcoe Street. Owner Jason Alexander now has three classrooms where he offers lessons in ceramic making, figure drawing as well as acrylic, oil & watercolour painting. You can find him at 77 Simcoe, painting daily for his next exhibition or teaching one of his six weekly classes while managing the art materials store.
Jason is a graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design. He worked in advertising and taught painting and design at Centennial College before devoting himself full-time in 1995 as an independent visual artist and creative business owner. Jason opened his art material store and art school in 2010.
Jason has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada, United States and Europe over the past 20 years. He has had 12 paintings published by “Poster’s International” and serigraphs prints with “Foundation Fine Art” Who had exhibited Jason’s work annually in “Art Expo New York” Jason has business relationships with Canadian art dealer’s; Profile Fine Art and Foundation Fine Art who ship to US galleries mostly. Locally his paintings exhibit in the “Loft Gallery” in Thornbury and his local studio. Jason participates in Collingwood’s September “Art Crawl” annually with his students as well Collingwood’s “Battle Of The Brushes”
His paintings are found in such notable private collections as the Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the old Skydome Corporation, Power Stream (Ontario Hydro), Motorola of Dallas and I.B.M in Atlanta to name a few. Jason’s paintings have been honoured to have been exhibited as set props on the late great TV shows “Seinfeld” and “Will & Grace”.
Since 1995 his signature paintings capture the physical and emotional spirit of jason’s world that takes you on a journey through a vibrant modern landscape. They delight the eye and appeal to anyone with an appreciation for highly energized representational art. Jason’s painting style has been compared to the work of the Impressionist, Fauvist painters and Post Pop Art.
For information about classes visit www.collingwoodartclass.com
Jason exhibits his most recent paintings on Instagram: xanderpaintings or have a look at what’s happening at the school: collingwood_art_school
Carter Leynes, singer/songwriter
Twelve year old Carter Leynes will soon be touring across Canada as one of five members of Mini Pop Kids, a high positive energy group of children performing current pop hits. After submitting a video performing Perfect by Ed Sheeran, Carter moved on to live auditions and was eventually selected from over 600 applicants.
Carter has been playing guitar with local teacher and singer/songwriter, Shane Cloutier since the age of 5 and also writes his own music. Fifth Crown Music signed Carter as an artist in 2018 and he expects to release two singles this winter.
Since the age of 8, Carter with his brother Jude on drums, has played on the streets of Collingwood in the Busker program. Their first concert was Sounds of the Streets featuring local buskers and since then they’ve performed at festivals and events in the area.
There are more than 20 stops on the Mini Pop Kids tour, from Medicine Hat Alberta to Peterborough, Ontario. Started in the early 1980’s the Mini Pop Kids brand is about empowering kids to be confident and to shoot for their dreams. Way to go Carter!
Carter is pictured playing at the 2018 ArtXPress event at the Collingwood Grain Terminals.
Photo credit: Leah Denbok (Featured Artist for June)
Carter Lane and the Mini Pop Kids 2018
Leila Goreil, writer
Leila Goreil and business partner Ashley Macdonald, are the founders, editors and writers behind MANUSCRIPT, a quarterly digital literary magazine completely devoted to books, authors, reading, literary news, fandom and more.
In creating MANUSCRIPT Magazine, Leila wanted to be able to fuse her passions for marketing, design and creative writing with her love for reading and books. Having originally created the concept for MANUSCRIPT Magazine back in high school, Leila uses her professional design and marketing skills to foster the creative and writing necessary to launch a literary digital magazine.
With no real magazine on the market for consumer readers or booklovers like Leila, she wanted to offer something to bibliophiles everywhere.
The first issue of MANUSCRIPT can be downloaded for free on their website January 1, 2019. You can find out more on their website, www.manuscriptmag.ca
Leila is pictured with some of her favourite authors and books. Clockwise from top left: Leila Goreil and Jennifer Robson at the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto with Robson's book Moonlight over Paris; Leila at home with some of her top reads; With local author, Aldonna Kaulius-Barry at the recent Art & Music Festival with Kaulius-Barry's book The Amethyst.
Greg Gibson, musician
Music director and pianist Greg Gibson has travelled to six continents and more than 60 countries over the past 8 years as Band Leader for Holland America Line cruises. His twenty year career and sought after skills as an arranger, composer, accompanist and music copyist has lead him to work for performing arts companies across the US and Canada including some closer to home such as The Shaw Festival, Talk Is Free Theatre, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Thousand Islands Playhouse and Theatre Kingston.
This September Greg will be returning to his roots in Collingwood for the sixth time as the Music Director for The World Goes ‘Round presented by Theatre Collingwood September 4-8. The musical production will showcase the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb with non-stop hits as it follows the lives of five people careening through the world of love, babies and coffee.
Yvonne Gibson and the Collingwood Art & Music Festival
Art and music will come together at one of Collingwood’s longest running arts events happening downtown on August 4 & 5.
Yvonne Gibson has been the force behind the Collingwood Arts & Music Festival for more than 15 years. The two-day juried art event showcases professional artists from across the region paired with music including the Jim Kinnear Trio. Youth artists are also invited to participate and the smallest of artists can try their hand at the arts and crafts children’s tent.
This year’s event will be held in the Eddie Bush Area in downtown Collingwood, Saturday 9 am-5 pm and Sunday 10 am-4 pm.
Leah Denbok, photographer
Leah is an 18-year-old photographer who lives in Collingwood, ON. Since the age of 13 she has been mentored by Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer and Fellow who, when she was only 14, wrote of Leah that, “she is well on her way to becoming not just a good photographer, but a great photographer. And I’m not kidding.”
For the past three years Leah has been traveling, with her dad, to cities throughout the world photographing the homeless and recording their stories. This past November the fruits of her labour were published in a book called Nowhere to Call Home--Photographs and Stories of the Homeless, Volume One. Volume two is due to be released in the summer, and volume three this coming winter. This past July CBC's 'The National' aired a documentary about Leah's photography and stories of people experiencing homelessness. Since then her work has attracted worldwide attention.
In the Fall of 2017 the BBC did a story about her. She was also, recently, interviewed by newspapers in Italy and the Netherlands. In September she shared the stage with Prince Harry and the former Secretary General to the U.N. at the Air Canada Centre for the WE Day and WE Family events where she addressed 40,000 people. She also attended, by invitation, ARTWALK NY 2017 and the Women of the World 2018 festival in Brisbane, Australia.
Leah’s work has been heralded by her peers. Toronto photographer, Mike Jordan, wrote of Leah that she is an “emerging superstar”, while well known Hamilton-based street photographer, Alex Zafer, calls her a “mega talent.”
Leah is the 2018 recipient of the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts' Murray J. Clerkson Award.
First photo by Dave West and second photo by Leah Denbok
Erin McAndrew, dancer
Erin is an independent choreographer, dancer, producer and arts advocate whose passion for dance has taken her across Canada and to Australia, India and Thailand. Presently she is right here in Collingwood spearheading the Sharing Dance initiative, a flagship community program of Canada’s National Ballet School. Over the next month Erin will work with elementary and high school students to share her love of dance and foster a sense of community by offering free dance workshops that will culminate in a community performance on Thursday, June 7 at Central Park from 10:30-12:00. Erin is partnering with the Healthy Kids Community Challenge to incorporate elements of their ‘Power of and Play’ initiative into the Sharing Dance workshops. “My work with Sharing Dance has underscored my belief that the arts are vital and should be accessible to everyone,” says Erin.
After studying kinesiology at The University of Western Ontario, Erin graduated from the Commercial Dance Studies program at George Brown College. She is a versatile performer, an innovator, educator and entrepreneur. Erin continues to develop unique collaborations across art forms and communities with her company E.M. Creative Productions.
Photos: Nicole Bishop
Drew Murdoch, Actor/Playwright
Drew Murdoch found an artistic home with Quarter Century Theatre (QCT) in 2016. He is currently one of the collaborators behind QCT’s brand new show Collected Stories for a Better World, which explores mankind's relationship with our natural world through drama, dance, music and poetry and opens May 16, 2018 . “QCT is site-specific, edgy and unpredictable and that’s exactly what I was looking for,” says Drew.
In addition to performing, Drew has a passion for theatre education and is part of the team delivering Fusion Fun Labs for youth aged 6 to 17, a joint initiative with Theatre Collingwood and QCT.
While obtaining his BA in theatre studies at York University, Drew performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2015 and again in 2016 when he organized the performance of Head À Tête by David S. Craig and Robert Morgan, a Canadian Theatre for Young Audiences Play.
Drew has written multiple plays, one of which received a Sears Drama Festival award. He writes and performs slam poetry and never one to shy away from a challenge, Drew is currently working on a novel for National Novel Writing Month.
Learn more about Drew and Quarter Century Theatre’s latest production here: www.qctheatre.ca.
Cecelia Spihlmann, Visual Artist
Cecilia was born in Peru, an extraordinary country, rich in culture, history, and cuisine, along with warm people, and stunning scenery full of color and textures to stir the artist’s spirit. In 2004, she moved from Lima, several years later settling in Collingwood, Ontario.
Having a background in graphic design, discovered early on that painting was her life passion, offering free expression and a means to search infinite creative ways to show the world her inner self. Her art shows a distinct attention to the basic components of design using line, color, depth, texture and nature symbolism to take you back to the most primitive form of human expression. Spihlmann’s Art shows a clear fusion of her Peruvian background with her Canadian living experience.
Jason Booth, Photographer
Jason has spent years crafting his unique skill of “photo art,” turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. He is a homegrown, self-taught photographer and artist and has spent almost 20 years capturing the life of Collingwood.
An old soul, focusing on the heritage of Collingwood, his style of photography has two spins on it. One is a vibrant image, while the second might have a heritage spin to it. Jason’s ability to edit and give an image an “artful life” allows him to set his own sail.
“What I am doing here is a passion,” he says. “Both preserving the past in a personal collection, archiving along with providing education of our past; all while photographing the current.”