A FEATURE about Zephyr Art! Where do I begin? 'Zephyr' was a very important part of my early art journey here in Orillia. When I joined the gallery in 2011 I was just beginning to seriously show my work. At the same time I also became a part of Peter Street Fine Arts Studio & Gallery. It was an exciting time for the downtown Orillia Arts Community, a community that has grown so much over the past 8 years! Zephyr Gallery helped me grow as an artist and person, AND I met so many amazing and inspiring artist friends who I still am connected with today. I stayed on until last year when I decided to focus more on my own art practice BUT I LOVE Zephyr and am excited for the pop-ups and events they continue to present.
For this feature I decided to focus on TWO long term Zephyr Artists. Patricia Beecham and Gayle Schofield both served on the Zephyr Gallery Board and helped in the day to day organizing and running of the gallery. Pat has continued on, steadfastly, in keeping Zephyr ART going. Pat also organizes and writes an Orillia Arts column for the Orillia Today Newspaper.
SO ... I introduce to you, Zephyr ART AND Zephyr Artists Patricia Beecham and Gayle Schofield!
MEET Patricia Beecham!
Tell me about Zephyr ART? The group is an extension of the Zephyr Art Gallery that was a big part of the Orillia Arts Community for several years. What is the group focusing on now?
Zephyr Art Gallery started 20 years ago in 1999 in the basement of what is now Tre Sorelle on Mississaga St. It was a collective of local artists who worked to showcase their work and promote the art community in Orillia.
It moved to 11 Peter St. S in 2005 and was there until it closed its doors in February of 2014. It was one of the first Co-op galleries in Orillia. Artists were invited to join the Gallery and paid a monthly fee. We also promoted guest artists, mentored high school art students and presented special events.
At the closing of the gallery, about 15 of the artists decided to remain as a group and formed Zephyr Artists with the aim of doing "pop-up" shows around Orillia. Our first pop-up was in what is now the Lounge Gallery at the Orillia Museum of Art & History. Since then there have been more pop-ups at OMAH, and also Manticore Books, Tiffins Creative Centre (our annual Walls of Smalls show), aRT&HOME Studio & Gallery, the Coach House Gallery, and the Community Development Office (CDC) where we have ongoing shows lasting about three months each in the Office Board Room.
Present and upcoming, we have shows at the Community Development Boardroom and Peter Street Fine Arts Studio and Gallery. We also take part in street sales and open air venues during the summer months.
Some of our artists are Patricia Beecham, Marlene Bulas, Catherine Cadieux, John Jacquemain, Evelyn Pollock, Gwen Reilly, Jean Sanders, Gayle Schofield and Murray Van Halem.
Tell me about your art practice and history as an artist.
After spending 37 years as a microbiologist/teacher in Etobicoke, I decided, upon retirement, to explore my artistic side. At the urging of some friends, I enrolled in a basic water colour class in the fall of 1998, and since then have continuously studied in Mississauga and Orillia.
I take much of my inspiration from my West Coast background, exploring lighthouses, seas, skies and coastal landscapes. Among other favourite topics are florals, Ontario landscapes and animals (especially cats). I accept commissions for paintings of buildings and animals.
Where may people find your work?
I show my work on a continuous basis at Peter Street Fine Arts Studio & Gallery in downtown Orillia. As well, you may often find my paintings on exhibition at Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery and Studio, the Orillia Museum of Natural History (OMAH), the Orillia Opera House,, the Couchiching Medical Centre and the White Lions Tea Room. I also co-ordinate and exhibit at the annual Bayshore Creative Arts Show that happens in October of each year.
You may also visit my website Patricia Beecham Watercolours.
MEET Gayle Schofield!
Describe your journey as an 'Artist'
I have been creative for as long as I can remember, with early influences from my grandmother and my aunts who were artists! I graduated from the Fashion Course at Ryerson and was a merchandiser and display artist for a few years in Toronto. I’ve taken a variety of art courses at OCA (now OCAD), both fine art and graphic design, and for several years provided graphic design services on a freelance basis. After moving to Orillia in 1996, I eventually became more involved with the growing arts community, becoming a member of Zephyr Art Gallery. As an artist with Zephyr, I participated in the Starry Night event and many sidewalk festivals. My involvement led me to the position of chair of Zephyr’s organizing committee and to the organizing committee of Starry Night. In the past, I participated in the Festival of Banners and Streets Alive events. As a contributor and participant, one of my favourite events has been the Art Under the Pavilion exhibit, held each June at the Couchiching Park waterfront during the Spring Boat, Cottage and Outdoor Show. Chatting with people and talking about my art has always been an enjoyable part of that event!
I generally work in acrylic and a diverse mix of media, including copper and paper. My work is influenced by my experiences, and the people around me. I am inspired by colours and textures, frequently experimenting with abstract interpretations and a variety of elements. I love to try different approaches and effects! My work has run the gamut of copper, paper, wood, paper mache masks, canvas floor cloths, and distorted manipulations of photographs. As well, while I tend to lean towards the abstract, I have been exploring the more realistic side, working from photographs to paint a variety of landscapes - rocks, rivers, trees and fields! My work often reflects my observation that the creative mind goes off in all directions!
Where may people find your work? Any upcoming exhibitions or events?
I continue to support the legacy of the Zephyr Artists as an active participant in the various pop-up exhibits the group displays in venues throughout Orillia. Currently we are showing work at Manticore Books until the end of January. Along with the Zephyr Artists, I have work at the CDC in the boardroom, where we have an ongoing opportunity to show our art. Also, until the end of January, I have two pieces in the 6 x 6 exhibit at Peter Street Fine Arts. Recently, I have taken some wall space at Molly Farquharson’s Hibernation Arts Gallery on Peter Street. I am the “resident” artist at Tiffin’s Creative Centre and can be found working at something most Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Coming up, I expect to participate in at least one sidewalk event, and certainly plan to be at the Art Under the Pavilion in June.
FOLLOW the Zephyr ART facebook page for upcoming Pop-Up Exhibition and Events!
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.
Inspiring ARTists & ART!
Zephyr Art & Artists
Greg James Thomson
Murray Van Halem