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COLUMN: Thanksgiving means studio tour is on the menu

'Being an artist on the Images tour is a fantastic experience,' says local fine art photographer Mike Bailey — one of 30 artists at 22 stops throughout area
Mike Bailey
Mike Bailey, an Orillia fine art photographer, is among the local artists who will showcase their work this weekend at the popular Images Studio Tour.

Can anyone tell me what Thanksgiving weekend means in our neck of the woods? That’s right. It’s Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour time.

The Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour is in its 39th year. This incredible studio tour showcases artists mostly in their own studios, in a self-guided driving tour throughout our area at the most beautiful time of the year. This weekend, you can visit 30 artists in 22 stops throughout Oro-Medonte and Orillia.

Artists work in many different media, including paint, photography, pottery, woodturning, sculpture, and more.

I spoke to local photographer Mike Bailey, an eight-year veteran of the tour, about Images and his work. Below is a condensed version of the interview.

OM: Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

MB: My photographic journey began about 20 years ago after buying my first DSLR camera. I loved being out in nature experiencing the beautiful surroundings provided by Mother Nature and taking well-thought-out photo compositions.

I also had a desire to find old remnants of buildings, vehicles and other manmade machinery rusting away, falling apart, and photographing it in such a way that visually it could tell its story of life.

Then I started to make my own frames and carry my creativity even further. I started printing my own large-format canvas and paper prints so that I could say my work was totally mine from start to finish.

Long story short, my hobby turned towards a professional fine art photographer. I started selling my work, displaying in local galleries, teaching photography, printing work for other photographers and making large giclee prints for numerous artists.

OM: What works can Images attendees expect to see from you at the tour, and where are you located in the tour?

MB: I will be displaying my fine art photography at the Leacock Museum, Stop R, at 50 Museum Dr., Orillia, along with artist, poet and author Pamela Meacher. There are also two other stops in Orillia: Xavier Fernandes fine art and woodturning at Stop V, 145 Borland St. E., and painter Marlene Bulas at Stop P, 197 West St. N.

I try to have a special piece for everyone — large and small framed prints on archival material depicting nature, wildlife, sunrise, sunsets, architecture and more. I also offer a custom service to people who may want pieces of a different size than what they see, to fit specific dimensions.

OM: Any last thoughts?

MB: Being an artist on the Images tour is a fantastic experience. I have met so many interesting people who show a great interest in my work. When asked about a certain piece, I first warn them that I have a story for every one and can talk for hours. But they continue to want to hear my stories.

Also, I’m told by so many that my photographs look like paintings. That is such a huge compliment. Seeing so much interest, seeing people I haven’t seen in years and people I see returning every year on the tour gives me such a wonderful and fulfilling feeling. It’s those moments of conversation, questions and acknowledgement of my creative talent that makes this tour a successful one for me.

The Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour runs this Friday to Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Look for the Images signs throughout our region, pick up a brochure just about anywhere, or go to to plan your tour.

Also this weekend, Couchiching Craft Brewering Co. finishes up its Rocktoberfest event with a bang, with Paige Rutledge playing Thursday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band playing Friday from 7 to 10 p.m., Run With the Kittens playing Saturday from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m., and the Chris Robinson-Will Davis jazz duo playing Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Culture Days events continue throughout the area, at various days and times, until Oct. 16. Local artist Paul Baxter is even doing an open studio on various dates. St. Paul’s Centre’s Call 83 Truth and Reconciliation art show is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. To check out the Orillia hub for culture days, and pick what you would like to participate in, click here.

Hibernation Arts’ guest artist for October is Deby Melillo, and there will be an opening reception this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Peter Street Fine Arts hosts the Bayside Artists as guests for the month of October. Come by and check out the fine work by these nine painters.

If you would like to start Halloween fun this weekend, check out Derick Lehman’s spooky house light display Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights this weekend, and every Friday and Saturday night until Halloween. It’s located on Dale Drive and the show runs from dusk until about 10 p.m. Bring a non-perishable item for the food bank, if you can.

Lots coming up after Thanksgiving, including the return of the Orillia Jazz Festival, brought to us by Arts Orillia. Click here for all the information and get your tickets now. I will have more details next week.

The Old Dance Hall Players are also back, with a show called Apples Against Humanity, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn and Conference Centre. Contact Kevin Scharf for tickets here.

I am out of room, so will stop for now, but there is lots more coming down the pipe. Have a safe and thankful Thanksgiving, and if you have arts news, send it to [email protected] by Tuesday at noon to be included.


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