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!
Inspiring ARTists & ART!
Zephyr Art & Artists
Greg James Thomson
Murray Van Halem