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 Greg James Thomson! Greg has evolved from landscape photography to capturing stories though portraits, live concert performances and events. He is an active member and supporter in the Orillia Arts Community, always with camera ready to document and promote local exhibitions and artists that he highlights on his facebook page Orillia Arts Scene.
Currently, his selected photography work is available at Art & Home Studio and he has a piece available in the Orillia Museum of Art & History's upcoming Sir Sam's Club Membership fundraiser.
READ ON to discover Greg's story and learn more about his work and photography services!
Describe your journey into photography and how has your practice evolved over the past few years?
In hindsight I've always enjoyed and been fascinated by photography. But my journey into photography began in 2013 when I bought my first DSLR for my Muskoka based property maintenance/inspection business. I needed to get detailed pictures to send to clients. Soon after I bought the camera I bought a wide-angle lens and found myself pulling off to the side of the roads in Muskoka because a landscape caught my eye. In September of 2014 I was working near Killbear Provincial Park and decided to head there with my camera after work and take some landscape shots. It had been raining all day but when I got to Killbear the sun broke through. I was running around the park, clicking on the "landscape" preset and one image caught my eye when editing. I found an online printing company with a 50% off sale and decided to order some large prints to use as Christmas gifts. I gave one to my niece and her husband for their home in Nunavut, and I gave one to my brother and his wife. My sister-in-law Lori posted a picture of it on Facebook and the response was quite positive. I soon found myself thinking about photography 24/7 and took pictures constantly.
In November of 2015 my father passed away and with the small inheritance I received I decided to upgrade to a professional grade camera and lenses. I also decided that, after 18 years in Muskoka, it was time to move back to my hometown of Orillia and pursue a career as a photographer. Since then I have evolved from a landscape photographer to a portrait photographer.
What plans do you have for your artistic practice in the future?
My future plans involve having a studio, again. I would love a place where I could have my gear, and design backdrops for concept photo shoots. I'm not a "PhotoShop" guy so I like to create the magic in-camera. I'd also like my own wall space to display my work. I love all aspects of photography but portrait work is quite fun. I'll see about weddings. From a gear standpoint, I need more....always.
What is/are your favourite subject(s) to photograph?
That's a really tough question! It's like picking a favourite child. My favourite images immerse the viewer. In landscape shots I try to incorporate the "golden ratio" and leave enough negative space to leave the viewer wanting more. With surf photos I include the wave because it's part of the story. In portraits I look for a 'look' that tells the story. With concert photos I want the viewer to feel like they're there. It's all about story, and letting the viewer feel it.
Any upcoming projects or events? How do people connect with you?
I recently wrapped up a project for Couchiching Jubilee House volunteering my photography services for their "Fearless Females" calendar. Currently I'm working on my own annual calendar of 2018 images. I did 30 days of long exposures in September, so I'm thinking of using some of those shots. I also recently got a paid job with Car Media 2.0 to photograph automobiles for marketing purposes.
My website is www.gjthomson.com, contact me via email, phone 705-645-8984, or connect with me through my Facebook Page gjthomsonphotography or on Instagram.
Bio: Greg James Thomson moved with his family just north of Orillia in 1970. His father Hugh sold a patent to Otaco and started working there. He graduated from Park Street Collegiate and Georgian College with a major in Business Marketing. In the early 1990’s Greg worked in the radio industry and eventually moved to the Muskoka area to help start-up the MooseFM chain of stations. Over the years, he has operated several successful businesses and continues to pursue the entrepreneurial spirit. Greg moved back to Orillia in 2016 to pursue photography work.
MEET Sylvia Tesori! I first met Sylvia a few years ago when she came to Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery & Studio asking about being a Guest Artist - ever since she has been a part of the downtown Orillia Arts District community and a great friend. The past year we shared gallery/shop space together and it was a fun, creative adventure. I spent a great deal of time surrounded by her work and was continuously awed by the vibrant energy, colours and unique story of each piece!
Read ON to learn more about Sylvia and her work!
Your work has a very spiritual quality, where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from the natural world. I spent years working outside and refused all jobs that had me “caged”. I love Ontario’s forests and waters. My favorite inhabitants are the birds! Inspiration also comes from my dreams; birds soar, crows speak, deers listen and bears lead.
You make soap! As an artist, how does your creativity transfer into the making of your soap and body products?
I am always making something, and love to try new mediums. The soap and other body items are a great blend of my creativity and science skills. I was trained as a scientist, and though I no longer work in that field, I continue to teach sciences at the high school and college levels. It’s really satisfying to be able to offer a great, healthy product that everyone needs anyway!
You have a street level business in the Orillia Arts District - What is your favourite part about operating a gallery/shop?
My favorite part of being in a street level gallery in the Orillia Arts District is the people. I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. It is also a lot of fun to have a visitor and see their reaction to my art; it’s so cool when someone connects and sees what you see.
Where may people find your work, in person and online?
Three Crows Speak Studio is located at 9 Peter St. S, in downtown Orillia's Arts District. My website is Three Crows Speak Studio or find me on Facebook: Three Crows Speak Studio.
Upcoming: Find Sylvia at First Light at Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, November 22 to 24, November 29 to December 1, and December 6-9, 5:30 to 9:00pm.
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
I met Murray Van Halem several years ago when we were both members of Zephyr Art Gallery. I have always been impressed with Murray's confident painting style and his consistent enthusiasm as an artist. He is a prolific creator and varied in his painting subjects but always produces strong and fresh work. His intense use of colour is mesmerizing!
MEET Murray! Read on to discover more about him and his painting practice.
How long have you been painting and how did your journey as an oil painter begin?
I've always been interested in art, since my childhood. I started my working life as a photographer, but really all I ever wanted to do was paint. I dabbled a bit in watercolours earlier on but not enough to develop my artwork to any degree. I retired from a long career in real estate and started painting seriously. My first time using a paint brush with oil was at Haliburton School of the Arts in a workshop with John Anderson, and I haven't looked back. That was in 2011.
Your work varies greatly in subject matter from landscapes to portraits to city scenes – where do you get your inspiration and reference from when painting?
Painting different subjects is a great way to develop painting skills. That is why I do so many different things. Portraits are the most demanding and also the most rewarding. If you can paint a portrait well, you can paint anything.
I spend time in Toronto regularly and find lots of inspiration, and I photograph things that I might want to paint. My 20 year career as a photographer serves me well as a painter.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or events? Where can we find your work?
I will be at the annual Images Studio Tour during the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend, and exhibiting at the Leacock National Historic Site in Orillia. Also, I have paintings on display at Twig Creative on 6 Peter Street and at Manticore Books in downtown Orillia. I am participating in Midland's Quest Art School and Gallery "Art at Home" fundraising art-loan program, and their Art Slam speed painting event on September 21st.
Artist Bio: Murray Van Halem is a Canadian artist and educator who lives in Victoria Harbour, Ontario. A graduate of Montreal’s School of Modern Photography, he began his career as a large-format commercial photographer and worked as a photojournalist, portrait photographer, magazine editor and writer. Murray now explores light, form and space through paint.
Visit Murray's website and connect on facebook and instagram to discover more of his work!
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