Gravenhurst artist Kevan Murray’s new show explores family, memory & identity

by Matt Sitler

A set of vintage black and white photos has inspired a Gravenhurst artist to delve deeper into the now threatened memories of her close knit family’s aging matriarch.

Kevan Anne Murray, 29, opens her latest show of acrylic paintings and ink and water colour illustrations at the Lee Contemporary Art  gallery located on the Upper Level at 5 Peter Street in Orillia.

Entitled ‘245 Lakeview Ave.’, the show, which started August 4th and runs until September 10th,  documents memories from her 87 year old grandmother Yvonne Jones’  life, which are ever the more poignant now due to Jones’ ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Murray named the show after the address where her grandparents lived for many years in Gravenhurst, which also served as the family’s main home base and hub of activity.

“It’s kind of ingrained in our family identity, that whole landscape and the memories connected to it,” reflects Murray. “Generally in the past I’ve done paintings that are more landscape and architecturally based, subject wise. (For this show) a conversation I had with my mother and a friend helped shift the subject  to this more personal territory, which was very difficult for me.”

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“Tiger 2: Winter Driveway”

A few years ago Murray’s grandfather passed away and her grandmother  had to be moved out of 245 Lakeview into a smaller residence. She now resides at the Pines long term care facility in Bracebridge.

“It’s just been a really difficult thing for my family,” says Murray. “And it’s been very interesting for me to observe, both up close and at a distance – because I’m living in BC right now – just hearing the way my family now talk about her. And even when I talk with her, even though she’s not ‘her’ anymore, she still is ‘her’. I’m kind of obsessed with the whole identity thing. She’s still the woman from 245 Lakeview Avenue and we still have those memories and we don’t have to hold on to who we think she is, who she should be or who she was – she’s different now and the roles are evolving and its always on my mind.”

When her grandmother was being moved out of her home, Murray’s sister took the opportunity to scan and email all her old photos to members of the family.

“(The photos) are from when my grandmother was a little girl growing up in Gravenhurst,” says Murray. “They include some family members who I don’t know, but you can tell they are very meaningful to her, her memories, history and identity. She’s still here but I’m not going to get to hear these stories from her now, so it’s interesting to see a different side of someone (through the old photos).”

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“Snowday”

Tying the show’s paintings and illustrations together will be written material, including a poem that explains more to the viewer about Jones’ life and story.   Murray used this material and the feelings the photos evoked while choosing the colours  and moods in her interpretations. Altogether, she says there are about 30 pieces that will be on display.

Murray, a graduate of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University has been travelling during the last couple of years, with trips across Canada and Europe. Previously she has shown her work at the Silver Bridge Gallery and the Art in the Heart summer program in Bracebridge.

She says she is now more focused than ever on developing her skills.

“I’ve been in Nanaimo BC for a year now,” she says. “I have a studio there and I’ve really been able to focus more in the last year on my art and what I want to do with it.”

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“Young Paddler”

‘245 Lakeview Ave.’ opened August 4th between 7 pm and 9pm.

Throughout the show Murray will be collecting donations from the gallery’s patrons  in honour of her grandmother for the Alzheimer’s Society.

To learn more about Murray’s art visit her website at www.kevanmurray.com

Lee Contemporary Art’s website is located at www.leecontemporaryart.ca

(Main photo is of Murray with her painting “The Lake”)

 

 

 

‘The Contingent Body’ runs in Bracebridge until Aug 13th

The newest show at the Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge, called ‘the Contingent Body’ will bring together the work of painter Carol Pollock and sculptor Donna Brock in an exploration of the figure in paint and stone and some of the approaches it can inspire.

This exhibition opens at the Chapel on Saturday 23rd with a public reception between 1 and 4pm.

“”My part of the show comprises figurative studies that offer a range from subtle abstraction to full-on representation – Holding Apples is one of the most abstract pieces in the collection, whereas many others such as Home Guard have evolved in a more representational manner. I let them self-determine as I go along”,” says Pollock.

“”My contribution to the show consists of stone sculptures presenting human forms emerging in various degrees of abstraction,”, remarks Brock. “”Promise, a moderately representational pregnant female form of gentle pink soapstone, leads to Promises, a large abstract suggesting multiple female pregnant forms in green-gray Appalachia soapstone. Advance, a small male torso emerging from white dolomite contrasts sharply with Suffering, a large male torso of gnarled orange and white alabaster.””

Pollock has always drawn and remembers her mother drawing at the kitchen table. When Nipissing University began offering fine-art classes in Bracebridge, she jumped at the opportunity to further her knowledge and skill. Works by painters Pollock sees in museums and online provides her with inspiration but more recently, it has been images from the past that she can relate to and that reflect the human condition.

““I have a cache of ever-growing images from which I choose something that I find intriguing; often they are of women or children,” explains Pollock. She begins by usually draw on a primed and toned canvas using the photographic images as a reference and then begins to paint. “”Throughout the process, I am drawing then painting then drawing again until the image resolves itself,” she explains. ““It is an ongoing exploration. My mantra comes from Picasso: Every piece is research. My aim is always to try to convey the ideas I have about my chosen subject matter – how it reflects the broader human condition and to expand my artistic vocabulary.””

Brock is a 4th generation stone carver through the men on her father’s side of the family. “

“Spending time with my dad at the stone shop was special, as he answered my questions about all the processes and equipment being used,” she recalls. “”Interestingly, my father tried to discourage me from pursuing stone carving and I didn’t take it up until after he passed away. I think he would have enjoyed my work. I know I would like to have shared it with him,” reveals Donna who honed her skills at the Haliburton School of Art & Design where she completed a one-month intensive stone carving course in 2004 and then a sculpture certificate program in figurative and representational work in the spring of 2008.”

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When Brock begins a new sculpture, “it’s the chicken-and-egg question – which comes first, the idea or the piece of stone?

““Once I have both the stone and the idea, I remove the excess stone by the easiest means possible”,” she explains. “Reductive sculpting is a bit tricky as once the stone is gone, there’s no replacing it.” To remove the stone, she uses the tools of the trade – hand and power tools, angle grinders, air hammers and sometimes a hammer and chisel. After roughing out the shape, a series of files and rifflers are used to refine the shape and remove tool marks. Then, hours of hand sanding creates a smooth, highly polished finish.

“Besides being brutally demanding physically, stone carving is really dirty work and there is absolutely nothing dainty about it,” says Brock. “”My greatest challenge is to be in tune with the type of stone I’m working with, understanding what it is capable of and the type of tools I need to coax the intended sculpture out of it.””

Both artists hope to connect with the viewers. “

“I work from found photographic images and I think most people can find themselves or someone they know in these forgotten moments. I hope they can appreciate the transformation that takes place when they are explored in paint,” explains Pollock.

““My hope would be that viewers experience some visceral response to my work, preferably a positive one but a negative one is acceptable too,” states Brock. “”It would mean that something in my work touched them deep inside, not just a cerebral response or intellectual calculation of the work’s meaning. I want them to feel something! I want them to have a relationship with my sculpture from the core of their being.”

The Contingent Body opens with a public reception on Saturday, July 23 from 1pm until 4pm. The Contingent Body continues at the Chapel Gallery until August 13.

The Chapel Gallery is located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm until 5pm with admission by donation.

For more information, please visit www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call (705) 645-5501.

(Photos: The Red Cowl, by Carol Pollock & Dancer, by Donna Brock)

54th annual Muskoka Arts & Crafts Show runs July 15-17

It’s almost here!

Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ 54th Annual Summer Show is a much anticipated summer tradition in Muskoka, drawing visitors from everywhere to the beautiful grounds of Annie Williams Memorial Park in Bracebridge on July 15, 16 and 17.

One of Ontario’’s oldest and largest outdoor craft shows, the Summer Show brings 200 artists to Muskoka this year –- a lively mix of new and returning exhibitors from as far away as St. Francois De Madawaska, New Brunswick and as near as Bracebridge, Ontario.

A lot has changed since Muskoka Arts & Crafts held its first show in 1963. For that inaugural show, an estimated 3,000 people visited Memorial Park in downtown Bracebridge to view the work of more than 50 artists.

Today, an estimated 20,000 people visit the three-day show to see the artwork of 200 artists. What hasn’’t changed is that Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ Summer Show continues to be a visual treat for all who enjoy purchasing, collecting and learning about art and craft in all its forms.

“All the work presented at the Summer Show is handmade by the artists, in their studios, and is one-of-a-kind work of the highest quality,” says Elene Freer, the Executive Director for Muskoka Arts & Crafts who organizes the show.

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The 200 artists exhibit in all art and craft media including basketry, clothing, fibre, furniture, glass, jewellery, leather, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, pottery, sculpture, toys, weaving, wood working and more.

MAC’s most important fundraiser

Selecting the 200 artists who participate in the Summer Show is a formidable task due to the high caliber and large number of applications received by Muskoka Arts & Crafts. A panel of professional artists carefully juries all the applications. This year, sixty-three first-time exhibitors to the Summer Show were selected to join many of the familiar and returning artists. Discovering these new artists is part of the excitement of coming to the Summer Show.

The annual Summer Show is Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ most important fundraiser. Admission to the show is by donation and all the proceeds benefit this non-profit visual arts organization by providing support for its public art gallery as well as many artistic events that take place throughout the year.

When your stomach starts to growl, head over to the Food Court where there are delectable and lip-smacking items to enjoy en plein air. There’s something for every taste, including vegetarian, vegan, organic and gluten free foods.

The Summer Show is a smoke-free event. Why smoke-free? “The Summer Show is smoke-free because it responds to the public’s wish for smoke-free spaces, promotes a healthier lifestyle, helps to create a cleaner environment as well as helping to inspire smoke-free children,” replies Freer. Smoking is not permitted in the show area, within 20 meters of the playground or at any of the picnic tables as these are considered as pop-up patios.

Free parking is available within Annie Williams Memorial Park. Additional parking is also available on selected side streets (Spencer Street, Dill Street, Ewing Street, Spadina Avenue and Brofoco Drive) and for Friday and Saturday, at the Wellington Street Pentecostal Church located at 38 Wellington Street (just a short walk to the park). Accessible parking spots are located at Gate 1.

In the tradition of the last five decades, the 54th Annual Summer Show promises to live up to its well-earned reputation. Come and meet 200 talented artists and craftspeople, hear their stories, be inspired, see new work and purchase handmade works of art.

The Summer Show is held on the picturesque grounds of Annie Williams Memorial Park located at 50 Santa’s Village Road in Bracebridge. The new show hours are Friday, July 17, 10am-6pm; Saturday, July 18, 10am-6pm and Sunday, July 19, 10am-4pm. Admission to the Summer Show is by donation. All donations support Muskoka Arts & Crafts, which is a registered not-for-profit visual arts organization.

For more information about the exhibitors who will be attending as well as information about visiting the Summer Show, please visit their website at www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call 705-645-5501.