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Have the February blahs? Local arts community can help

Workshops, live concerts just a couple of ways to stay active and engaged, arts columnist explains
2021-02-03 Brian Tosh
Artist Brian Tosh is taking over the guest wall at Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery for the month of February.

It seems we needed January to get used to being at home and to get creative about what we could be doing at home. February is looking much more lively, arts-and-event-wise, as our arts community rises to the challenge of COVID-19 yet again. There are some fun events and opportunities in the next while, as we hone our stay-at-home skills.

Virtual workshops are becoming more common and more creative as we enter Year 2 of the pandemic. The Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) is rising to the virtual workshop challenge by releasing its OMAH from Home virtual programming. First off is a watercolour painting workshop by Tanya Cunnington, channelling Franklin Carmichael. (The Carmichael Canadian Landscape exhibit is currently locked up as we await being unlocked.)

This workshop is a bit unusual, in that it is pre-recorded, so your payment buys you the right to use it again and again, for only $20 for members and $25 for non-members. You can also buy the materials kit for only $20 ($7 for each additional kit). Sounds like a fun coronavirus project! For more information and to purchase, click here.

Creative Nomad Studios is doing an unusual workshop as well, this Friday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. As part of the ABT2 CRe8 series, Steph and Anitta are presenting Live 15 and Done! Essentially, this means they will do a 15-minute live painting while you watch, but the trick is you give them the subject! Looks like the ladies will be taking turns painting your ideas. This should be a fun Friday night of art and entertainment. Here is the free link.

Wondering what you are going to do with all the art you have been creating? Have no fear. Hibernation Arts has a call for artists out with the deadline of Feb. 10. Owner Molly Farquharson’s attitude is, the lockdown has to end sometime; might as well have an art show ready to go. Hibernation Arts will hang the show Feb. 10 to the end of March, and will post pictures and offer curbside pickup of the exhibit until the lockdown eases up. To submit your piece, for free, email Molly at

Artist Brian Tosh at Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery and Studio is also offering curbside pickup and posting pictures of his and others’ work. Brian is taking the guest wall at Peter Street Fine Arts for the month of February and has some new acrylic paintings of Orillia and area that are sure to please, including the Sam Steele building and the Orillia Opera House, among others. Follow Brian on Facebook here.

Mariposa Folk Festival is participating in the Hillside Music Festival’s virtual event, Hillside Inside, this weekend, Feb. 5 to 7. This virtual and free fest features workshops and concerts by Mariposa and folk festival favs Slocan Ramblers, Tre Burt, Shred Kelly, Serena Ryder, Steve Poltz, Moscow Apartment, Courtney Marie Andrews, and the Sam Roberts Band, plus lots more. Most of these are available all weekend long, so you can create your own festival schedule. For lots more information and the link to the shows, click here. One caveat: The Shred Kelly concert is live on Facebook Saturday night at 8 p.m., so plan that one accordingly.

Another fun event this weekend, especially for those who are experiencing pandemic fatigue with their house and the amount of clutter in it, is a Home Organizing Basics workshop offered by declutterer and stager That Jess Girl. Presented in collaboration with realtors Cat O’Connor and Jason Gill, this workshop will tackle the basics of home organization. Apparently there are prizes, too!

This workshop is Sunday, Feb. 7, at 4 p.m. To register — and, yes, it is free — sign up here.

As if all this wasn’t enough, the City of Orillia’s traditional February WinterActive fest is still happening, but with — you guessed it — a pandemic twist. Instead of getting together for fun outdoor events in a crowd, you can participate at home, or by yourself inside or outside. The city has created a whole calendar of fun, COVID-safe activities, both physical and mental, to stave off your February and coronavirus blahs.

There are also kids’ and seniors’ activity kits available, for $10 each, with even more fun activities to do this month. For more information, the activity calendar, and where to reserve your kit, click here.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the Orillia Public library has lots of activities and materials to help you while away the snowy days. The library is offering curbside pickup, it has great digital reads, movies and music available, and awesome virtual programming as well.

Surprise packs are available with different books. You can dial a story and there’s also a workshop on Managing Your Mental Health During COVID. The workshop is Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m.

For lots of information on all things Orillia Public Library, click here.

The Orillia District Arts Council reminded me that February is Black History Month, and the folks there have put together a neat little poster on the Facebook page of some local places and events to celebrate and learn from. Check it out here.

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