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Downtown Art Tour celebrates summer solstice Friday night

Multiple studios, artists participating in Peter Street Arts District event, says arts and entertainment columnist
Peter Street Fine Arts artists
Some of the Peter Street Fine Arts (PSFA) Gallery and Studio Artists, from left to right, Alex Henderson, Karen Gattie Popp, Brian Tosh and Xavier Fernandes. PSFA is one of many studios participating in the Solstice Art Tour Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. (PSFA Photo)

Well folks, this Friday is the summer solstice! And that means a couple of things. It means it’s the longest day of the year.

The other thing it means, is it’s time for the Orillia Arts District Solstice Art Tour! All the galleries in the Peter Street Arts District, and a couple on the main street, are opening their doors on Friday, June 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. for you to wander and peruse all the great artworks they have.

There are passports available for you to pick up at each gallery so you don’t miss a spot, and there is a draw for a goodie bag of unique one-of-a-kind items, so don’t forget to enter. Here is a list of which galleries are participating:

  • 5 Peter St. S.: Craig Mainprize Studio #202; Liz Schamehorn Studio #203; Tango Artspace #204 (Patti Agapi ART, Tammy Henry & Robyn Rennie);
  • 7 Peter St. S.: Hibernation Arts Gallery & Shop;
  • 9 Peter St. S.: Three Crows Speak Studio (Sylvia Tesori), Kristine Drummond Studio;
  • 11 Peter St. S.: Stuffed Sandwiches & Coffee (& ART);
  • 15 Peter St. S.: The Shadowbox Art & Framing;
  • 17 Peter St. S.: Art & Home Studio & Gallery;
  • 22 B Peter St. S.: Tiffins Creative Centre;
  • 23 Peter St. S.: Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery & Studio;
  • 30 Peter St. S.: Orillia Museum of Art & History - Reverie Artist Reception;
  • 73 Mississaga St. E.: GJ Thompson Photography.

So, come out on a beautiful summer evening and enjoy some art and support some of the incredible creative artisans we are fortunate to have in our town.

If that evening doesn’t supply enough art to feed your soul, the Coldwater Studio Tour is running this weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This fast-growing local art tour has been around a few years now, and this year is showcasing 32 artists in 16 beautiful spots throughout the nearby countryside.

There will be live demos as well as snacks and of course beautiful handmade items and art for you to purchase. Check out all the details at the tour’s excellent website here.

Before I move off the visual arts news and into other cultural happenings, I just got word that a local artist, Jessica Allen, is going to be painting an upright piano at Tudhope Park throughout the weekend. Jessica is completing a post-graduate degree in Museum and Gallery studies and is spending her summer interning at the City of Orillia Parks Recreation and Culture Department. Wander by Tudhope Park and check out what Jessica is going to do with this outdoor piano!

Moving into music and other events, did you know there is a 90’s dance party this Saturday at 8 p.m.? It is a fundraiser for the Comfie Cat Shelter and is at the Moose Lodge at 6 Kitchener St. Tickets are only $15 and can be bought at Comfie Cat, It Happens Celltek or Plum Loco. Don’t forget to dress up!

On June 22 there is a fundraising concert for Hillcrest Lodge at St. Paul’s Centre at 7 p.m., featuring ragtime piano player Bob Milne. Tickets are $35 and will guarantee a night of great music for a great cause!

I wanted to give a shout out to a couple of local musicians who are doing wonderful things these days.

Zain Campbell, better known in music circles as Alphabreff, has been working on his upcoming album, PULP, for two years. As Zain says, it’s “about bringing to life the simplistic beauty of what’s inside my mind, which is a bunch of PULP: 'A popular or sensational writing that is generally regarded as being of poor quality.'”

This guy is such a hardworking and talented musician, I urge you to check out his latest video, A Son’s Ode, which he released on Mother’s Day. Zain puts his heart and soul into his work and it is obvious from the high quality of his music. PULP is available for pre-order now, and you can find out lots more on the Alphabreff Facebook page here.

Another local band I want to give a shout out to is Reay. These guys reached out to me a couple weeks ago to tell me their first single, Poison, was dropping end of May, and their upcoming album, Butterfly Tongue Revisited, is coming out beginning of September.

Reay is a couple of brothers, Bayze and Sean Murray, rounded out by three other talented musicians, and they call their music alternative Indie pop rock. I gotta say, I enjoyed listening to Poison, it was a good earworm and am looking forward to hearing their next single, coming out June 28, Lemondrop Girl. Check out Reay here and enjoy.

What else is going on this week and weekend? It’s Christmas in June at the port. This popular event has been running forever it seems, but never gets old. Check out the decorated boats and events at the port this Saturday all day.

Friday, First Nation’s Day will be celebrated at the John Snake Memorial Community Grounds out in Rama. The fun starts at 5:30 a.m. with a sunrise ceremony and also includes breakfast, canoe races all day, a parade at 10 a.m., lots of amusements and activities, a BBQ lunch, a ball game at night, and then a big fireworks display to finish it all off. Come out to Rama and celebrate our First Nation’s neighbours.

I don’t know if this really falls under culture, but it’s certainly entertainment. The airport out at Lake St. John is having a Fly In/Splash In day on Saturday. It’s free and there will be tons of airplanes and exhibits to check out. Food is provided by Tailwinds Bar and Grill so you know it will be good. More information at the Facebook event page here.

A quick note, summer camp opportunities are filling up fast here in O-Town and area. In addition to traditional summer day and week camps at Youth Leadership Camps and Camp Couchiching, we have in-town day camps being offered through a few hosts, including City of Orillia and Orillia Museum of Art and History. There is something for every little camper’s interests, so check them out through the various websites and make sure the little ones in your life have wonderful summers!

Music in the bars this weekend? You bet! At the Brownstone Café, June 20 We Make More Music, June 21 High Road Pilots with CRAST, June 22 The Usual Suspects, June 26 Boots and Hoots. At Boston Pizza, June 20 Rob Watts on the Patio. At the ANAF Hall June 22 Wendy Whelan. At Fionn MacCool’s June 22, Jakob Pearce. At the Hog ‘n’ Penny June 21 Olivia Duck. At the casino, Martina McBride June 21, Charley Pride June 22.

As always, send me your arts news by Tuesdays at noon to to get in the news!