MEET Xavier Fernandes! Xavier is a talented multidisciplinary artist and long time Orillia Arts community member. I have known Xavier for several years and worked with him on various projects involving Zephyr Art Gallery, the Starry Night Studio & Gallery Tour and the Orillia Arts District. His dedication, professionalism and knowledge have always inspired me. When he commits to a project, he gives it his all. Xavier's continuing artistic evolution is amazing to follow and his recent work with metal and wood - SO beautiful!
Read on to discover more about Xavier, his work and current projects!
(photo credit: Deb Halbot Photography)
What is your art background and how has your artistic practice grown?
I went to Sheridan College for the three-year Illustration program. While there, I took life drawing, figure drawing, printmaking, graphic design, photography, painting, computer graphics, technical illustration … it was a comprehensive course. Since then, I have expanded from mainly painting and printmaking to learning how to weld and making things out of metal, and now metal and wood, and learning how to turn wood. I have also done body painting for the last two Somniatis wearable art shows and printed the fabric for the Clocktower dress in Somniatis I. I have also been involved in Call to Action 83, a collaborative art exhibit around Truth and Reconciliation, with indigenous and non-indigenous artists. The first show, with 16 pieces by 16 artists, travelled all over Ontario. The second show has just opened at Quest Gallery in Midland and we will be doing a public sharing and talk about it on December 1 at 1 pm, free to the public.
(photo credit: Ron Hill)
You have been involved in the Orillia Arts Scene for many years – how have you experienced its evolution?
When I got into the arts scene in Orillia it was at the end of high school, over 25 years ago. It was a smaller group of artists in the community who kind of did their own thing but many of them came together for meetings of the Orillia Fine Arts Association and for the community. I was one of the founding members of Zephyr Gallery which started in 2000 and that was a big catalyst for many artists for many years. It was the first gallery where any artist could show work on a regular basis here in town. Eventually Zephyr moved on to Peter Street to join with other arts businesses and organizations, including the Orillia Museum of Art & History, Tiffin’s Creative Centre, the Shadowbox … there were only a few at that time but it was a change. That was the early beginning of artists joining together to create the Orillia Arts District. Brian Tosh and Liz Schamehorn opened a gallery together, Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery & Studio, while I had my own studio upstairs at 5 Peter Street, where there is quite a group of artists now. Eventually I moved to Peter Street Fine Arts as well as several other artists. Peter Street has evolved into a hub of artists and galleries that work together and create places and happenings for people to come and enjoy great art.
You are involved in the Underground Orillia project – can you tell me about the project and describe its development?
I was approached by some friends from high school who asked if I wanted to do a documentary on the tunnels that are under Orillia, if there are any …. Having knowledge of some of the underground spaces, they felt I could be helpful to get them into some of the places. This was a two-year journey of research and exploring these spaces, seeing all kinds of amazing things…some of them no longer exist but we were able to document them before they were destroyed. Our goal is to make this documentary accessible to as many Orillians as possible, so we are doing two free shows at the Orillia Opera House on November 28, at 7 and 9 pm. We hope to get the show into Hot Docs as well. We have had a lot of positive feedback about the show and it has generated a lot of interest and questions from people here in town. It has been really fun to be part of it, and to explore filmmaking, which is a new medium for me.
What are you working on now and where may people discover your work?
When I got into metal, and wood and metal work, I needed a new space to do it in. I am sharing a workshop at 64 Western Avenue, beside Charles Pachter’s place. I am making black walnut side tables with metal legs, and black walnut platters with metal stands. I recently acquired a lathe and a garage full of black walnut and butternut and am now busy learning woodturning, making bowls, and other hollow vessels. I am also making wooden tea light holders. I show my work at Peter Street Fine Arts, at 23 Peter Street South, and at my home in Orillia. I share my work on my personal Facebook page, Xavier Fernandes.
I would like to do more body painting as well, just for fun. It’s a very interesting medium. It’s a challenge to make body painting look realistic and like it’s not painted, and I enjoy a challenge!
(photo credit: Peter Stranks)
MEET Peter Fyfe! Peter's strong, energetic paintings are eye candy. They draw you in with a beautiful balance of colour, form and lines while his assemblages (pictured in above photo) reflect his literal view of the world.
READ ON to learn about Peter's process and discover his work!
Your paintings depict strong lines, vibrant colour and form – what are you trying to convey with your work – themes, emotions, statements?
I have two approaches, as I tend to produce either abstract paintings, or my more conceptual “constructions”. As a person who has coped with episodes of mental anguish most of my life, when I’m actually in a productive mindset I try to dwell in that happy place – the bright colours, and curving lines. For many years I drew everyday, sketching out my interest in chairs at first, before gravitating to simple, decorative drawings, with simple, repeating forms and shapes. In the same way, in painting I explored straight-lined chairs and partial views of chairs before canoes became my obsession. So with those, I’m in an abstract frame of mind, taking something familiar or ordinary and pushing it to the limit of what can be recognized. It’s almost musical, though I would never pretend to be a musician but as musician Laurie Anderson says, ‘the purpose of art is to provide what life does not”. So, many of my works have musical titles. A great deal of my inspiration comes from years listening to the Beatles and such over and over, but also art history and my fellow artists in general.
Love your piece in the 2018 OMAH Carmichael Exhibition, can you describe your thought process behind its creation? Is this the beginning of a new series?
Thank you for that. It’s called “AVP, An Apparatus for Viewing Landscapes”, and its about exploring ideas and getting away from just flat painting. I’ve always done dimensional work, but it has always been less productive for me; each piece actually takes a lot of time considering different ways to approach an idea, and then finding materials and objects through which I can convey that idea. For a long time I’ve explored ideas of sentimentalism, privilege and power imbalances. For instance, who gets to do what in our society. This work tackles materiality, environmentalism and the art world through those lenses. In that vein, my big question would be, “Who gets to shape art the way it needs to be seen, the artist or the art market?” That probably sounds very heady, but I actually want people to see the humour in the piece.
As for a series, yes I have already sketched out 15-20 smaller pieces I would love to get to. They’ll challenge my carpentry skills for sure. To get to those, I first have a painting commission to complete, and then continuing to be productive will be the greater challenge. However, I must say, as an artist being involved in the OMAH’s Carmichael Show has been a great boost, and I look forward to seeing how my art unfolds over the next year or so.
As an ‘Orillia’ based Artist, what are your thoughts on the art community and where do you see it/hope to see it 5-10 years from now?
I’m a reluctant person socially, but I try to find ways of getting out there and being involved. Participating in group shows at OMAH is one way, but I also use social media quite a bit – I admin a few groups on facebook, “Orillia Artists”, “Canadian Artists for Truth and Reconciliation”, and a group for my own followers. I also have tried to blog, but I find it very distracting and too time intensive – if you read one of my long posts, you’d see why [laughs]. But then there is Streets Alive projects, which I’ve done four plus a few banners. Streets Alive, organized by Leslie Fournier is very energizing, very public.
The Arts District seems very alive with studios, retail spaces and galleries, and especially new, younger faces, which is nice to see. That’s fantastic. With support from the city and a continued influx of what looks like that youth movement taking hold, Orillia will grow as a very vibrant place in many ways – the music, theatre, and the visual arts scene. I encourage others to visit downtown and encourage that growth.
Where may people connect with you and your work, online and in-person. Any upcoming events or exhibitions?
I sell some works online at Saatchi Art which is a good place to look at my last five years or so. I have my website, Fyfe Art which is like this whole survey of everything I’ve ever made! And the blog is there as well as my e-mail. I’ve got a book of drawings available at the OMAH gift store – I tell people it’s the world’s only hardback colouring book! I haven’t participated in an exhibition in a very long time, outside of the Orillia Museum of Art & History, and the Zephyr Gallery back in 2015-16. My favorite way to communicate is on facebook, but I’m in the phone book, for those who still use one of those! And of course, I’m always available just to meet for coffee and talk about commissioned works.
Peter Fyfe is originally from Kingston (Ontario), where he grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. His formal arts education began atYork University Ontario (1982-1986) where he earned hisFine Arts degree studying painting and sculpture. After that there was a stint at the Banff School of Fine Arts, 1986-1987, and then things got wrapped up with a Bachelor of Education (Artist in The Community Program) from Queen's University 1993-94.
For fifteen years, Fyfe taught mostly at Gravenhurst High School, 1999 – 2015, and mostly in Social Sciences, as well as Visual Arts, but also significant course work in Communications Technology, Media, and Business Studies.
Today, Fyfe feels like a re-emerging artist, working from home in Orillia, no studio, but where he also happens to live with his wife Jennifer, two lovely children and two cats.
Meet Christina Hartwick, multimedia artist who specializes in amazing and beautiful wire sculptures! I am always enthralled at the detail and unique character of each of her creations! Visit Christina this weekend during for her first Art Studio Open House, October 6 to 8 (co-hosted with artist Cheryl Sartor).
Read ON to discover Christina's inspirations and more about her work!
What path led you to working with wire? What other mediums do you work with when creating?
I first started out doing portrait drawings of people and animals. Wire became a new form of drawing for me which brought my drawings off the paper and into a 3D form. I enjoy working with many different mediums. Some of my favourites are wire, wood, rock, paints, fabric, pen & ink, pencil & coloured pencils. I most enjoy sculpting and working with hand tools and electric tools.
Your work feels whimsical yet very strong and grounded, what is your inspiration?
At the family cottage was where I found a lot of my inspiration. I would sketch just about anything at anytime. I would take extensive time shading with pencils, coloured pencils or pastels. I would always travel with my pencils and sketch book. One time I had forgotten my supplies back home and felt lost. So I began a search for other textiles. I came across some rusty old wire in the garage and that’s where it all began. I brought the drawings in my mind to life into a 3D form. It was very satisfying to see those images come off the page. I believe art heals the artist and the ones who appreciate it and want to know more of its story.
What are your favourite subjects to create? Do you accept commissions?
Outdoor and large sculptures are my most favourite to create. Being able to create large pieces without welding is a complex process and the outcome is always engaging.
I have and do accept commissions.
Where may people find your work, in person and online?
My art can be found at Art & Home Studio, Orillia Opera House and the Orillia Museum of Art & History. On facebook, find my work on my All Wired Up - Wire Sculptures and Mixed Media Art page.
Contact me through e-mail or at my studio 705-326-6713.
Website up soon! www.allwiredupartist.com
Artist Bio: Originally from Newmarket, Christina has always had a passion and a appreciation for all forms of art and music. She took art through high school and continued her love of Fine Arts throughout the years as a self taught artist. Christina has called Orillia home for many years and would visit the parks camping as a child. She has participated in local art events such as, Art Meets History, Maple Masterpieces/Streets Alive, Women’s Art Show Exhibit, Woods End Studio Tour, Art Studio Open Tour and Somniatis The Wearable Art Show. Christina has her art displayed for sale at the Orillia Museum of Art History, The Orillia Opera House and Art & Home Studio. She is also a member of The Orillia Fine Arts Association. Christina is hugely inspired by her two children, exploring the outdoors, wildlife and music. She works with wire as her prominent form which requires a level of manual dexterity and her sculptures are of life like proportion as well as abstract.
Meet Paul Court, visual artist and musician! Paul is very active in the Orillia art and music scene, and is SO supportive of other artists.
Read ON to discover Paul's art and his thoughts on creating art & music ....
You are a visual artist and a musician – do these two forms of expression ever overlap/inspire the other in your creative journey? If so, how?
The most surprising thing to me since I began working “seriously” on visual art is that I have lost my need to express myself in words and music. I can’t seem to do both at once. I tend to be rather obsessive, diving in deeply. but I recently gave up my studio space, and immediately started writing songs again. There is definitely an overlap in subject matter - I make art with musical references, and I write songs about making art.
As a visual artist, you primarily create collage-based works – describe your process and what draws you to working with paper?
Ha! What “draws” me is the fact that I can’t “draw” to save my life, so I mostly work with existing images. I also paint with acrylics - colour field abstracts and geometric designs.
I spend much of my time collecting material from books and magazines. My first passion is colour, so I’m looking for complementary combinations. shape comes next, ie. how to mix the images to suggest some form of movement. The result I’m looking for is to challenge the viewer to provide her own context for that which I have removed or obscured.
It’s somewhat the same with songs - I tend to eschew details in favour of a more universal “story” which the listener can interpret as his own.
What creative projects are you currently working on?
As I said, I am presently working on music and writing songs, while I slowly carve out a studio space in my tiny home. I’ve made a few collaged cards at my dining table. You’ve heard me say it: “I like to work small”.
Where may people find your work, in person and online?
Our pal Molly Farquharson opened Hibernation Arts at exactly the right moment, as I vacated my space in the Orillia Arts District. she was good enough to hang several of my larger pieces, including some black-and-white collages. She also sells my art cards.
visual art: pcourtart
songwriting: Facebook: thesongwritersshadow
Next live gig: opening for the entirely wonderful Tragedy Ann at The Brownstone Cafe, October 18.
Some of Paul's collage work available at Hibernation Arts, 7 Peter St. S. in downtown Orillia
Meet Tanya Cunnington, a contemporary painter who balances life as a full-time artist, gallery owner and mother. Her vibrant landscape paintings radiate with gorgeous colour and strong lines!
Read ON to discover more about Tanya and her work ...
You are a gallery owner, working artist and a mother, how do you balance those dynamics?
Red wine. Lots of it. But in all seriousness, it is hard to shut things off in your mind when you are passionate about them, so I had to create a balance. I genuinely love being a mom and owning my own business and of course being an artist. I’ve designed my life so that our son can be a part of all of it. Because I own my own business, he can join me at the gallery anytime he wants to, and he has his own studio so he can create when we do. It also really helps that I have a supportive partner who is also an artist and understands how important studio time is. When I get really overwhelmed, I do yoga.
Tell me about your gallery, Lee Contemporary Art?
Lee Contemporary Art is a curated rental gallery that exhibits emerging and mid-career artists. I opened it three years ago with the help of the Business Enterprise Research Network Program when I realized that I wanted to work in a creative industry, side by side with artists. I had done some curatorial work in the past and loved it. I get really excited when I see a great submissions from a new artist, so a gallery just seemed like a natural fit. I tend to exhibit work that is more abstracted and less traditional because that is what I am drawn to as an artist. I’ve exhibited artists of different disciplines from all across Canada and recently from the U.S. as well.
How has your art practice evolved over the years? What is your main creative focus now?
My art making practice just underwent a huge shift. After working in abstracted grid-like collage for almost 20 years, I recently moved into landscape. I didn’t realize how much I was being influenced by my surroundings in Toronto until I moved back to Orillia 6 years ago. Being a really nostalgic person, my work has always been about the passage of time and memory, so I am enjoying finding new ways to express that. Most recently, I began work on a series of “rocks and trees” based on my childhood in Northern Ontario. I don’t think that I have exhausted this subject yet, so I plan to continue with it until I do. I will also continue my explorations with colour.
You currently have a new exhibition showing at Loop Gallery in Toronto, what are the details and what is up next?
Dream, comfort, memory opened at Loop Gallery on September 15 and runs until October 7. It is an exhibition of ten new paintings all based on Northern Ontario. The title is borrowed from Neil Young’s Helpless. Loop Gallery is located at 1273 Dundas Street West (at Dovercourt) in Toronto, open Wed-Sun.
Upcoming is a two person show of works on paper with Jill Price at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario. It opens December 6 and runs until March of 2019.
Dream, comfort, memory runs until October 7 at Loop Gallery, Toronto
Tanya's gallery Lee Contemporary Art is located at 5 Peter St. S. in downtown Orillia's Arts District. Currently on exhibition is Sean Rees: Imperfect Precision and up next is Annie Kymta Cunnington: Plan B, October 4 to 27, 2018. Interested in showing at the gallery, contact Tanya!
AND, discover even MORE about Tanya' work here!
Nancy Jones with her ART. (image source: Lee Contemporary Art FB)
MEET Nancy Jones, a contemporary painter who creates luminous and vibrant paintings that hover between abstract and landscape. I am always drawn by the subtle layers that Nancy creates, her paintings sing - SO beautiful and oozing with atmosphere.
READ on to discover Nancy's creative process and more!
Your works have an ethereal quality, yet are strong and energetic - could you describe a bit about your creative process and what inspires you?
I create contemporary landscapes. My paintings are about colour. There are endless combinations. I have worked with the same palette of primary colours for many years mixing yellow, red and blue in varying proportions to create colour harmony. I achieve luminous colour by glazing thin layers of colour over top of one another on the canvas.
My paintings are also about the contrast of dark and light. They have strong value contrasts. They are moody and this evokes emotion in the viewer.
Describe your artistic journey? How did you arrive to painting?
I was fortunate to grow up surrounded by art as my parents were both artists. From day one I was painting and drawing in sketchbooks rather than colouring books. Drawing outside the line was encouraged. As my children grew older I took up painting again and have never looked back. I now work in my home studio and offer workshops on colour mixing and value compositions.
You are a participant in the upcoming Images Studio Tour, Thanksgiving weekend, do you have any other upcoming exhibitions or workshops?
I do not have any upcoming exhibits at this time. People are welcome to contact me through my website to visit my studio at Art by Nancy Jones.
I will be offering Studio Classes every Tuesday beginning October 16 and finishing on November 6, 2018. The first Tuesday of the two day workshops will focus on composition using “NOTAN”: the Japanese term for light/dark. During the second Tuesday participants will transition from value studies to full colour paintings. Max. participants is five.
Where may people find your work, online and in-person? Do you take commissions?
Currently I post images of my new paintings on Facebook and Linked-In. I usually have a few paintings at the Shadowbox in Orillia. I am not an artist who takes commissions. That process just doesn’t work for me!
Meet Robyn Rennie! Robyn creates intoxicating abstract paintings that vibrate with a radiant energy - each one a visual treat that engages the senses. Using various media to create texture and colour, her recent abstract body of work evokes a strong and beautiful experience for the viewer.
Read on to learn more about Robyn and her work!
Your art practice altered/evolved as a result of health issues – how has that impacted your creative process and subject matter? Describe your work and creative process?
I suffered a life-changing vision loss in 2005 which has changed how I experience the world. But while I continue to choose my subject matter from the natural world, visual impairment has freed me from my former style of highly-detailed expression. While I use the same medium and grounds, I now employ them to subvert popular assumptions about sight. One common stereotype about vision loss is that it results in more acute hearing, but in reality sight merely allows the brain to filter background noise so that we can attend to something specific. My abstract works challenge what we see by evoking other senses: For example, I want the viewer to be able to visually experience what we rationally know about colours by thinking about how they might taste, smell, sound, or, feel. I hope to impart that seeing beyond vision can open the door to understanding that so much of what we assume to be true is open to interpretation. I demonstrate this concept further by using iridescent and interference paints; even a slight shift in point of view changes the changes the viewer’s experience. Any form of new information can change a person’s perspective – visually and emotionally.
What are you currently working on and any upcoming events or exhibitions?
I just finished my design for the upcoming “Somniatis III”. I’m am currently working on my design for next year’s Streets Alive installation. as well as new work for the next “Feministo” show (Feministo is a group of female contemporary abstract artists that includes Patti Agapi, Catherine Cadieux, Stephanie Stanton, and myself).
As an Orillia Artist, what are your hopes for the continued growth and vitality of the Orillia Art Community?
Orillia is a dynamic arts community, and I am so honoured to be a part of the creative pulse of the city! I love that the City understands and supports the value that art has to our collective sense of self and community, as well as tourism. I could say that I hope there will be continued opportunities for public art installations and growth for the artists of Orillia, but I know that will happen. It is already happening!
MEET Heather Price-Jones, emerging Orillia Artist who has embraced the ART of collage. I was immediately drawn to Heather's whimsical yet slightly dark work, loving the contrast. And, it was awesome to discover another collage artist in Orillia!
Please read on to discover MORE about Heather and her ART ....
Collage Art! What attracted you to work with paper and the art of ‘cut & paste’? What other forms of art do you create?
I had already been collecting old magazines when I first noticed artists making collages with vintage themes online. I was inspired by artists like Beth Hoeckel and Thomas Easton. I'm am a perfectionist to a fault, so I really liked the fact that things could be arranged and rearranged until I was happy with the final product. I have dabbled in pretty much every form of art before collage work, a bit of a "master of none". I really love collage work and I've currently gotten into doing weaving and creating boho wall hangings as well.
How would you describe your work, its meaning?
My work is a mixture of vintage imagery with modern themes. I'm so interested by the idea of femininity, what it means to be a woman in current day society, and how it can mean so many different things to different people depending on their personal experience and journey. As a young person, I am fascinated by the idea of social media and how we present ourselves to others. We create this curated image of ourselves but we keep everything under surface level hidden. I am inspired by nature, as well as Memento Mori, a latin phrase meaning "remember that you have to die". I like mixing the themes of death with something so alive, like flowers and butterflies. I like exploring these very real themes with a surreal edge.
Tell me a bit about your art journey so far. What are your creative goals for the future?
I still feel like a baby in the art scene. I have been practicing collage art for a few years now, but have really only gotten involved in the art scene for just over a year now. I have been fortunate to create professional relationships and worked to create opportunities for myself. My goals are to expand my personal brand to more locations in Orillia and to show my art in locations outside of town as well. I want to always be challenging myself creatively while ensuring that I am always enjoying everything I am creating.
You are currently part of a group exhibition at the Orillia Museum of Art & History ‘ROOTS’ but where else can people find your work, in person and online?
Yes, ROOTS will be open until September 23rd, 2018. I have some art available for viewing at Hibernation Arts in the arts district of Orillia. I have recently launched a website with an online portfolio, online store and a tab to update where my art can be seen www.artbyfloralandfauna.com. I also sell prints online through Society 6 . You can contact me through my facebook page Floral & Fauna and can see a behind the scenes into my life on Instagram: @itsheatherpj.
Artist Bio: Heather Price-Jones (Floral & Fauna) is a mixed media and collage artist born and raised in Orillia, Ontario. Heather has participated in all things creative from a young age, eventually discovering other collage artists on social media. In 2015, she began creating collage work using vintage magazines she started collecting during her time in Journalism. She is inspired by the concept of femininity and woman’s empowerment. Her work focuses on the reimagining of vintage images with modern themes. A self-proclaimed flower child, Heather enjoys combining nature into her work in non-traditional ways. Fascinated with the positives and perils of the 1960’s and 1970’s, her art focuses on female resiliency and the beauty of change.
Much of your photography work and paintings resonate in a similar way - there is a microcosmic view there - are you drawn to abstraction and wee details? What inspires you?
My father taught me to appreciate details in nature, a Kildeer bird's nest on the ground, how the pattern of the eggs mimicked the earth and stones they lay on or the beautiful jewel of a Monarch butterfly chrysalis and watching it's transformation into a wondrous butterfly, or being awakened in the middle of the night when my father arrived home from work to take me outside to see the Aurora Borealis moving in the sky looking like ethereal curtains swaying to their own universal music. I guess you could say my brain was wired as a young child to appreciate the nuances of pattern and light. Of course photography is all about the light, but that's what intrigues me the most, every single day of our lives the light is never the same. Playing with that light, sometimes distorting it, smoothing it out, seeing the shapes it creates excites my brain, gives me those feel good endorphins and people do feel a response to the abstractions. I love when people tell me that they are much more aware of their surroundings because of my photos. I decided to try another artistic medium a couple of years ago so I've tried different forms of painting. Acrylic pour is just what it sounds like, the only control you have of the paint are the colours you use, the amount of paint and manipulation of the canvas to move the paint around. It was very freeing, not knowing how the abstract painting would look until it was dry.
When did you begin your photography journey?
My earliest memory of taking photographs was on a school trip at the age of nine, using an old box camera. Photography started to become a passion when I started working at a local photography studio in 1983 as front counter staff. I was taught picture framing as well as darkroom tasks, making black and white prints from photographic film. I bought my first SLR film camera at that time and from then on a camera was always within reach.
Where can we find your work?
I am currently a member of Tango Artspace at 5 Peter St. S. in the Orillia Arts District.. You can also see my work on Facebook or Instagram as Linda Plourde Creative.
What are you currently creating? What's on your studio table?
Well, my studio is my kitchen table where I'm now playing with resin, using it in painting and making jewellery as well as various objects and my drying/assembly studio is a table in the livingroom! I don't mind that my house has been taken over by art but I am starting to run out of room!
FIND Linda and her creative pursuits online here:
ALL artwork photos by Linda Plourde
Inspiring ARTists & ART!
Greg James Thomson
Murray Van Halem