Posts Tagged ‘art in algonquin’

“Phases” Residency: Meet Christine Fitzgerald

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

We’re so excited to announce that we’ve chosen Ottawa photographer Christine Fitzgerald for our “Phases” residency, starting this weekend. Her work is a unique type of photography that’s perfectly suited to work around Algonquin Park!

From Christine’s bio…
Christine Fitzgerald is an award-winning fine art photographer from Ottawa, Canada. Christine has always been captivated by nature.  Her fascination began in her childhood growing up in a small town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada, and has never abated. Much of her work deals with the fragile relationship between humans and nature, and the tension that this relationship inevitably creates. Her images are produced intuitively using digital and vintage cameras, often integrating historical and modern photographic tools and processes.

You can see more of Christine’s work here. She’ll spend next week at the Algonquin staff cabin at Found lake, right next to the Algonquin Art Centre. During that time, she’ll work on site-specific photography in the park, hailing back to photographic techniques used in the days of the Group of Seven.
She’ll also be conducting two artist-demos, one at the Art Centre and one at the Algonquin Visitor Centre. She’ll be with us at the gallery on Sunday the 16th and at the Visitor Centre on Saturday the 22nd, both days from 11–3. It’ll be a great chance to take a look at her process, her vintage cameras, and to see her at work, so if you’re in the park to take in the fall colours next week, stop in!

We can’t wait to see Christine at work!

Andrea Ross: Rough Around the Edges

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

As September rolls on and the leaves start to change, we’re  heading into our last solo-show of the season: Andrea Ross’ Rough Around the Edges.

Andrea and her piece, “Shake it Down to Earth”

Andrea has always had a profound connection with Ontario’s natural places. As a child, her family had a cottage on Skeleton Lake in Muskoka. As she grew older, she ventured farther and farther into the seclusion of the outdoors, canoeing extensively in Georgian Bay and Algonquin Park. She feels very at home among the rocks, trees, and waters Ontario, and they dominate her paintings.

“Above Hogan Lake”

Andrea often depicts the places where trees cling to rocks and stone merges with water, the boundaries between elements of the landscape as we identify them. Often, she poises these tenuous landscapes on the cusp of day and night, or at the delicate balance between one season and the next. If you’ve ever rounded out a day of paddling in Algonquin by watching the evening light play across the rocks and trees, you’ll feel right at home with Andrea’s paintings…

“Hornbeam Lake Portage”

The fuzzy edges between day and night, summer and fall, water and forest make up the raw material for Rough Around the Edges. It’s a fitting end to this season’s exhibition, Metamorphosis. We’ve explored natural processes, environmental change, and cycles of growth and decay throughout the summer, so finishing the season with Andrea’s liminal landscapes feels like a perfect end to the exhibition. We can’t wait for you to see her work in person!

“Rugged Island”

You can take in “Rough Around the Edges” at the Algonquin Art Centre from September 15th to October 22nd. You can find us at Km. 20 along the Highway 60 corridor, and we’re open every day from 9—5.

Call for Submissions: “Phases”

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Our Fall residency call for submissions is here!
This year, our theme is “Phases,” and runs from October 15th to the 23rd. We invite artists to explore progress and metamorphosis in nature, and how we understand it.

Applications are due September 23rd. You can find the link to the form right here.
We can’t wait to hear about your projects!

Daniel St-Amant: Convergence

Monday, August 15th, 2016

We’re very excited to be hosting our artist, former residency-holder, and good friend Daniel St-Amant for his solo-show, Convergence!

You might remember that last October, Daniel spent a week at Algonquin Provincial Park’s Clarke Lake Cabin. He used that time to gather specimen and natural materials like mud and leaf-litter, to take in the inspiration of the park, and to plan large-scale artworks. His days were spent working on his craft, and at night he got to hear the howling Algonquin wolves.

In the past, Daniel used his signature technique—laying canvasses on the road to pick up the impression of passing cars’ tire-tread, the painting wildlife—to signify the way nature is often closed in and crowded out by human intervention. He would place animals within the confines of human encroachment. But since his time in the wild, his style has moved in a different direction…

Works in progress for the show!

Lately, rather than using human elements as structures of confinement, Daniel allows his wildlife to grow out of the mixed environment of urban and natural materials. It’s a hopeful message about the convergence between the human and animal worlds, and the ways that their interaction can be healthy. It’s an evolution and a progression, conjured up from the melding of very tangible materials from the real world, incorporated into artistic creativity. Daniel has perfectly expressed the spirit of this season’s overarching theme, Metamorphosis.

Join us from now untilSeptember 15th to see these completed pieces and reflect on Convergence in person!

Art of Glass and Stone with Peter Rice

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

We’ve got a special event coming up this Friday! Peter Rice will be stopping in to do an artist demo… it’s Art of Glass and Stone!

Peter Rice is one of our long-standing artists at the Algonquin Art Centre. He was born in Toronto but spent most of his childhood in rural areas around the Canadian Shield. It was here, playing and exploring among that unique geology, that Peter became fascinated with rocks as an artistic medium. It wasn’t until his university years at Guelph that he discovered how to perfectly incorporate them into amazing sculptural tableaus. By combining minerals with the practice of setting stained glass, he developed his characteristic mode of depicting the landscape in sculpture.

As intriguing as these pieces are, watching them come together makes them even more fascinating.  Taking raw materials of wire and stone and twisting them into life as a unified sculpture takes patience, insight, and a strong vision of what you want to accomplish. And hearing Peter talk through his work is an extra privilege! He’s great to hang out with while he works his craft, and our visitors love speaking with him. That’s why, year after year, we’re delighted to have him back.

This special event will be taking place throughout the day this Friday, between 10 am and 4 pm. There’s no charge. We’d just love for you to stop in and engage with one of our artists! You can get all the details over on our site.
Join us and spend some time with a fantastic creator in his element!

David Grieve: Warm Shore

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

As the summer progresses and this season’s theme of Metamorphosis continues, we’ve got a new solo show! We’re proud to welcome David Grieve’s Warm Shore, which showcases light and landscape in his signature impressionist style.

David Grieve has worked with oils most of his life. He started out very young, accompanying his mother to her studio, and later attended Guelph University for fine art. All throughout his long painting career, he’s been captivated by landscapes, most importantly the Southwestern Ontario fields he calls home and the rugged woodland of our wilderness.

“Resplendent 2″

David’s style is based on broad bands of colour aligned into impressionistic renderings of the landscape. His technique has some surprising results. It makes you move in, step back, engage with the image, and interrogate the way the trees and hills resolve out of his form. By revealing his brush strokes so dramatically, he adds an extra layer of interpretation onto the already beautiful landscape.

“Warm Shore”

David’s solo show, Warm Shore, specifically explores his use of light. Sunlight’s animating presence transforms a dormant landscape into a kind of radiant wonder-world, brimming with possibility. The daily change of light between sunrise and sunset is among the most fertile territories for an artist to explore. That change reveals new regions overlaid atop familiar geographies. We all know the feeling of revisiting a favourite location at an unfamiliar time of day or year. It’s almost an entirely new place. David’s use of light captures just that experience in his depictions of the familiar Algonquin landscape…

“Wagi, Jumping Rock”

You can experience Warm Shore July 21st to August 15th at the Algonquin Art Centre, located at km 20 in Algonquin Provincial Park. Get all of our details over on the website, Stop by, and let these beautiful interpretations of the landscape guide your experience of Algonquin!

Off-Season Artists: Lori Dunn

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

It’s the new year, and we’ve got a new edition of Off-Season Artists! This is the series where Alex, the guy we send hurtling into 2016 at the speed of a broadband connection, interviews our artists for some off-season inspiration.
This time, it’s Lori Dunn, scratchboard artist, zoologist, and wonderful fusion of creator-naturalist.

So for those of our readers who don’t know you, the path to where you are now has been pretty remarkable. You grew up an artistic kid, but then went into sciences, eventually becoming a zookeeper. Then it was back into art, and a very challenging artistic practice at that! I’d love to hear about what took you into the sciences in the first place, and then to take the plunge back into art.
As a child I constantly immersed myself in nature, especially small creatures that I could easily observe. I read nature books, watched  nature programs, and felt more of a connection to wildlife than people. Growing up in a military family, we were always moving, and so keeping friendships was difficult. I think this just made my interest in animals stronger as there was always a field or some woods to explore no matter where we lived. I had artistic talent at a young age, and of course my parents and teachers wanted to see me go down the artistic path. I was too absorbed in the biodiversity around me though… I wanted to learn everything I could about animals. When it came time to consider post-secondary education, there was no question in my mind to continue this path of learning. After obtaining an honors degree in zoology, I then proceeded to work with captive exotics in the zookeeping profession. During all of this time I was always sketching animals. I took a few drawing courses, but mostly it was a hobby. I drew animals that interested me and worked mainly in pen and ink and colored pencil. After 15 years as a zookeeper there was not enough learning going on and the job was getting stagnant and political. My passion was waning… and I knew I didn’t want that to happen. I left the zoo and decided to allow my knowledge and experience to guide me into the world of wildlife art.

I have to say, your two parallel areas of expertise seem to merge perfectly in your work. What does your work as a scientist bring to your artistic practice? And on the other hand, how has your artistry increased your engagement with wildlife?
Studying wildlife academically, in the field and in a captive setting, has allowed me a better understanding of species’ anatomy and behaviour. This is naturally going to translate into a more accurate representation of an animal. I can look at many photos of animals and know if something is “off,”  for instance if it is dehydrated, over or under weight, going through seasonal changes in appearance, or is simply not in peak physical condition. This allows me to zero in on the best image to use as my reference photo and depict the animal as it should be, or at least how I want it to be. My study as a zoologist has also given me a greater appreciation for the tiniest of details that define an animal’s appearance—the way the scales on a snake change shape and appearance along the body, or how the tiny facial hairs and wrinkles on a gorilla define the individual. As a wildlife artist, knowledge of your subject is crucial to allowing the viewer feel intimately connected with that animal through your thoughtful representation. In contrast, as an artist interested in wildlife, I find myself not just engaged in observation and learning with regards to anatomy, habitat and behaviour, but also looking at the light, the setting, the position of the animal… anything that would make for a unique capture of that species and moment in an artwork. Because I work in a monochromatic medium, lighting of my subjects is critically important to give depth to the piece. Ironically, I often find myself out in the field seeing everything in terms of light and shadow rather than colour. And while most photographers want a cloudy day to increase color saturation of their subject, I am the opposite—give me the harsh light and shadow! This is what makes a better black and white artwork!

“Muskoka Morning”

Speaking of your art… tell me a bit about scratchboard! It seems like an excruciatingly difficult medium, but your results are just incredible. What took you down that road? Are you, in fact, a glutton for punishment?
(Just kidding.)
But seriously, what appeals to you about the medium? Did you discover it when you were young or was it a bit of a revelation once you decided to plunge back into the artist’s life?

Scratchboard is a process of direct engraving on a board coated with white kaolin clay, then black ink is applied over top of the clay. A sharp instrument is used to etch into the surface to reveal the white of the clay, thus producing a black and white engraving. Tones in between black and white are achieved through the pressure used in etching (ie. how deep you go into the clay layer ), as well as how much black ink is removed. Given that I was a pencil artist for many years with a penchant for super-detail, it wasn’t surprising that when I discovered some scratchboard work online I wanted to try it out. Something about using such a sharp instrument like an X-ACTO blade was intriguing, plus I have always loved black and white art. Discovering just how much detail you can get in this medium was indeed a revelation to me. I was hooked, threw the pencils aside, and delved in. I am self-taught—just practised  over and over until I was happy with the results. It seemed to come naturally to me but this is not the norm. Most people find it an exceptionally challenging and difficult medium to master. It’s ironic that you ask if I am a glutton for punishment! This is one of the most asked questions I get at my art shows. People will ask “am I insane?” or “how do I have the patience for this?” My answer is that I don’t think of it in negative terms… yes it is a very time consuming and difficult medium, but I love doing it. Patience and/or insanity don’t really factor in. As someone who is an over-thinker, being able to zone out, shut off my brain and spend hours on end stippling or cross-hatching a 2-inch square piece of the board is a good thing. The music goes on, and I check out for a while—it clears my head and allows me to focus on something other than day to day stuff!

I love your commitment to education, since arts-communication is such a big part of our overall cultural language. Similar to the way your zoological career informs your art and vice-versa, do you find that communicating for education has been an asset in your artistic thinking? And how about the opposite? What does the artistic impulse contribute to your ability to communicate for education?

After leaving the zoo and delving into art, I suddenly realized the potential there was to educate others about the species that were portrayed in my works. Art reaches people on a visual and emotional level. Combining my artistic talent and passion for nature and wildlife allowed me the opportunity to really say what I wanted. I was not restricted in any way… and in this sense I really started to think about my subjects and the message behind the artwork. I didn’t want someone buying a piece of mine without learning something about that animal. I decided to include a thoughtful writeup on my website along with many of my works, bringing conservation issues to light. Not every piece has this, as I didn’t want to appear overly intense, but it is something that is especially important to me as I continue in this field. At my art shows, if I find people really connecting to a particular animal, I will often engage them in conversation about their own observations of wildlife. I still have a huge drive to learn and have learned quite a lot from talking to other artists and patrons. The desire to learn and the desire to educate go hand in hand.

Here’s a bit of a softball question for you, since it’s not every day I get to chat with a real live zoologist… What’s your absolute favourite animal, and why?
That is a really difficult question to ask a zoologist!
I am someone who finds even the most microscopic of organisms incredible! Throughout my zoological career, however, my favorite group of animals has been reptiles, specifically snakes. I spend countless hours in the wild searching for them. Snakes are notoriously difficult to find. They leave no tracks, have no scent, spend most of the time remaining hidden in tight enclosed spaces… you can’t bait them and you can’t sit on a boardwalk and watch them fly overhead. Finding snakes in the wild requires lots of hiking and bushwhacking, a bit of knowledge of good habitat and a whole lot of luck. It’s a neverending quest, but the reward is an adrenaline rush and an absolutely overwhelming sense of satisfaction at finding one of the most misunderstood and maligned creatures on the planet. So my favorite animal? The very next snake I find!


And last but not least, what’s something interesting we might not know about you?
Well… artistically speaking, you and your readers will be the first to know that I would like to delve into doing some “macro” wildlife art. My interest in tiny creatures knows no bounds! I’d love to start doing some really close up artworks of smaller wildlife forms. Picture for example, the compound eyes of a dragonfly blown up to appear almost alien-like, or a close up view of a jumping spider, showing every tiny hair… yes, I have big (or small!) plans…

“Night Stalker”

On that beautiful—and kind of alarming!—note, we leave Lori Dunn. It’s been a pleasure speaking with her, and we’ll be back with another edition of Off-Season Artists soon!

Golden Encore Residency: The Follow-up

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

You’ll remember that in October, we partnered with Algonquin Provincial Park in hosting Daniel St-Amant for the Golden Encore Artist’s Residency. Since then he’s been working hard on the projects he began there.
We asked Daniel to talk about the experience and update us on his progress. Here’s a look at the amazing work he came up with and his thoughts on his time in the park…

When I was growing up I was raised in the country. I spent as much time as I could in the woods, wandering, exploring, playing, and imagining what it would be like to live in another time, one where survival depended on the way of the land. So naturally when I was approached by Algonquin and the Art Centre with the idea of doing an artistic residency in the park, I jumped at the opportunity.

My plan was to bring as much paint and canvas as possible so that I could maximize my week, to use this precious time allotted to me to catch up on commissions and projects I haven’t been able to work on… basically just become a painting factory. I thought this because my day to day reality is pretty hectic. I live in the city and have a career as a VFX and digital painter. Usually, I can only spend weekends and evenings in my painting studio. On top of all that, I am also a husband and father of 2 beautiful children. As you can imagine, my life is busy, but busy in a fantastic way. So getting a week alone in the woods with no work or any distractions meant I could paint like a hurricane until I unpacked and sat at the little picnic table that was outside my cabin overlooking the lake.

I had this whole thing planned out. It was going to be extremely productive, except the moment I arrived I forgot about all my plans, I forgot about my schedule, I forgot about my timelines and deadlines. I honestly was so at peace with my surroundings. And that’s when my sense of exploration took over, something I hadn’t felt since my childhood. I began by walking in the woods every day, first thing after my cup of coffee. I would walk and collect specimens like a mad scientist, anything that peaked my interest in terms of colour or texture. At that time of year, you can just imagine how alive the woods are with colours, as if you’re walking through a Tom Thomson painting. This, to me, was heaven. I probably collected ten buckets full of leaves and branches and moss, basically anything that I felt I had to have. I gathered my thoughts and came up with a plan of making collage paintings using dirt and objects that I picked up on the way. I sectioned off the cabin. One room was designated for drying out my samples, which I spread out on the floor and flattened under books, and another room was for painting and drawing. I even had a room that I used for my wood shop to make stretchers. It was fantastic. I began experimenting with different media that I could use in addition to my current practice.

a canvas prepared with local materials

My typical work uses dirt and grime collected from the busy city streets. As my canvass are spread over the roadways cars run over them leaving their markings. This is a metaphor that represents humanity’s technologies that are causing harm to the environment.  Typically I create backdrops made out of these markings, which I use to house the animal portraits I paint.  This work is a direct response to city living. I see squirrels and raccoons running around, trying to avoid humans, all the while trying to survive in an urban setting. Being in the woods, I was away from it. Nature seemed more comfortable. Birds chirped with enthusiasm. Little woodland creatures scampered around happy. I felt that my work would change dramatically if I spent a prolonged time at the lake. My vision of my animal portraits changed into more of an evolutionary standpoint, I pictured animals growing out of my samples of sticks, leaves and bark. Instead of creating a portrait of an animal living within the confines of my tire tracks or “a human presence,” I wanted them to bloom out of the bottom of the canvas like a flower or a tree. It was a real eye opener, how one environment could change my visual reactions and my concision.

The 6 days flew by in retrospect, but while I was there, time was much slower. I spent a few days at the Visitor Centre doing a demonstration and one day at the beautiful gallery at Km 20. Some of my most memorable experiences were the people that I encountered and who helped organize the experience. I would like to especially thank Andrea Coulter and the owners of the Art Gallery, Joel Irwin and Matt Coles. Everyone was so accommodating and friendly I will never forget that short week I spent in my little cabin by the lake.

So now that I sit in my studio a few months after my time in Algonquin, my work has taken a bit of a right turn. No longer am I concerned with a negative outlook on the environment, hoping to spark a reaction out of the viewer. Now I am more interested in creating work that is a celebratory vision of nature. I now want the viewer to experience a positive reaction to my work. I want the viewer to look at my compositions and think about how beautiful nature is, how resilient it is. As an artist, you are always growing and moving in new directions.
I am extremely excited to see what’s to come.

another of Daniel’s residency-pieces in progress

We’re so grateful that we can be part of giving artists the opportunity to pursue their craft and communicate their love of creation with Algonquin visitors. We’re committed to continuing these residencies. In fact, our spring residency, Perennial Threshold, has an application open to everyone, so if you want the chance to create… apply!
For now, we want to express our thanks to Algonquin Provincial Park and to Daniel himself for making this an amazing experience for everyone involved.

Season’s End

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Hi friends! Matt and Joel, here…
Our last day of the season was this past Sunday, so we wanted to take a second, regroup, and talk to the people who’ve made this such a great year for us.

Lori Dunn, “Muskoka Morning”

This was our first season at the helm of the Algonquin Art Centre. Starting out, we have to admit were as nervous as we were excited. Embarking on any venture involves risk, uncertainty, unknowns…
It was more effort than we thought possible, and there were considerations we couldn’t imagine before we took over the gallery. That’s how these things work. They stretch you and challenge you, and then you grow. We’re happy to say that from the time we threw open the doors on June 1st to when we closed them on October 18th, we’ve remained just as in love with this place as we ever were.

David Lidbetter, “East Wind”

Ultimately, we have you to thank for all of that. Every time you stepped through the door you reminded us that Algonquin inspires not just love for all the things the park has to offer, but a deep appreciation of the artistic creativity that goes hand-in-hand with its landscape and wildlife. We loved getting to provide some of Canada’s most exciting artists with a platform to showcase their talent, and doing all that in the most beautiful setting we could imagine.
As you can see, this post is full of some very special pieces. They represent just a small selection of the works we’ve sold this year. That tells us one thing: the passion for Canadian art is  alive and well. We’re just grateful that we get the opportunity to be a conduit for this amazing tradition of capturing Canada through art.

Brent Townsend, “Through the Trees”

Even though the season’s over, we’ll still be in touch. We’re going to be featuring interviews with artists and conducting artist’s residencies throughout the off-season. We’re also already busy planning for next year, so stay posted for updates.
But before all that, our first step is to take a few days at the cottage, have a beer or two on the dock in the fall air, and look back on a season well-spent.
Thank you so much for that, and here’s to many more!

Off-Season Artists: Daniel St-Amant

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

It’s been a great season, and we’re starting to wind down for the end of fall. We can’t thank you enough for how amazing 2015′s been!
Just because our doors are closing for winter, that doesn’t mean our passion for showcasing Canadian art is any less. So over the next several months we’ll be posting quick interviews with our artists. It’s a chance for you to explore their personalities and their creative identities a little deeper. Who knows? If you get to know the artist in the wild, you might fall even harder for the work on the wall.

To start us off, you might remember that we announced our Golden Encore Artist’s Residency in partnership with Algonquin Park a few weeks ago. Daniel St-Amant, a  modern surface wildlife painter, will be housed at one of the Park’s lodges form October 14th-21st, giving him some time in the wilderness to work on his craft. He’ll also be conducting artist-demonstrations at both the Algonquin Art Centre and Algonquin Park’s Visitor Centre over the weekend. It’s going to be a great time, and you can find all the information here.
Daniel hails originally from Quebec, went to school in Halifax, and now lives and works in Toronto. Aside from his artistic practice he works in visual effects for film. He’s also just a lovely guy! So without further ado, here’s a bit of our chat with Daniel…

Daniel St-Amant

As someone from French Canada who lived a while in the Maritimes and now operates out of Toronto, you’ve got a lot of Canada in your personal history. What have you taken away from those experiences?
The biggest thing apart from the friendships and life experiences would be the landscapes . It is quite remarkable to think about the diversity you see in the landscapes from the Canadian shield through to the Laurentians and southern Quebec all the way up the east coast.

Your artistic practice is very unique, and also very specific. How’d you arrive at it? Any particular influences?
Throughout my life, and artistic career,  I’ve been privileged to have been surrounded by many talented individuals that both inspired and influenced me.  Teachers like Gerald Ferguson at NSCAD and lengthy conversations with fellow artists helped sculpt my art practice. But I feel my upbringing in rural Quebec particularly influenced me and my body of art as my love and respect of nature ultimately led me to my subject matter.

“Timber Land” Daniel St-Amant

You also work in visual effects for film (which is SUPER-COOL, by the way). How does that line of work influence your painting?
My work in the VFX industry has influenced my art practice quite a bit in terms of my initial sketching techniques and tools that I adopt. I use a lot of digital reference and photography to compose my images in addition to some of the techniques we use in film such as integration, colour adjustments and composition prior to the actual production of my art.

“Red Shoulder 2″ by Daniel St-Amant

It’s great to hear a little bit about the Canadiana that makes Daniel tick, and we can’t wait to get to know him better when he arrives this week. Stay posted for updates and media from the residency, and more interviews as we progress!

Algonquin Art Centre - Gallery in the Heart of Algonquin Park

open June 1 - October 19

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located at km 20 on Hwy #60

in the Heart of Algonquin Park


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