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Local art galleries get creative to emerge from 'hibernation'

Despite the move to the grey lockdown phase, Orillia's galleries and studios are open for business and worthy of support, says arts columnist
Molly Farquharson at Hibernation Arts. Credit Tammy Henry Johnson
Molly Farquharson is shown at her studio, Hibernation Arts, in the Peter Street Arts District.

This week’s big news, of course, is that we have been sent back to the grey zone … with some modifications. So, small retail businesses are allowed to be open at 25 per cent capacity. This means your local art galleries are open!

Hibernation Arts at 17 Peter St. S. in the Orillia Arts District is one of those local art galleries, and this week I wanted to shed some light on it, and on the owner, Molly Farquharson.

Molly “retired” to Orillia about six years ago, after an eventful working life teaching English all over the United States, Japan, and Turkey. She also operated a café in Turkey! The stories from these times could fill a book, I have no doubt.

Molly had visited her sister in Orillia for years, so picking Orillia as her retirement home base made a lot of sense. She is also a fibre artist, and she knew about Orillia’s vibrant arts scene, and wanted to be part of it. In her art, Molly uses thread, yarn, buttons, and found items for their colours and texture.

Molly showed her work at several galleries in Orillia before opening Hibernation Arts in 2018. Why Hibernation Arts?

“I called the gallery Hibernation Arts because, after being out of Canadian winters for so long, the first couple of winters made me say, 'Not going out today. Or next week. Or next month.' Fortunately, I am more used to it now," she says.

Currently, quite a few artists are showing at Hibernation Arts: Jon Oelrichs, Nicole Rulff, Tammy Henry, Cheryl Sartor, Terry McIntosh, Karen Hollinger, Gayle Schofield, Catherine Cadieux, Barbara Schmidt, and of course Molly herself.

There are also three group shows at the moment: Orillia Fine Arts Association, Zephyr Art Club, and the studio's own group show in lieu of a guest artist (which will resume next month).

“The support of the artists has been crucial in keeping the gallery going, since the gallery does not qualify for government loans or grants," says Farquharson. "In the past, Hibernation Arts hosted poetry readings and local music concerts and hopefully those will resume sooner than later. I also hope to host workshops and classes, once it is safe to do so.”

In the meantime, the gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is a cozy spot to enjoy a chat and view (and purchase) some beautiful works of art, locally and hand made, with care.

Molly adds, “The people in the Arts District hope to do the Art Walks again this summer (and hopefully the slogan is Meet Me Downtown to include other businesses). Last summer's Art Walks were a wonderful opportunity for people to get out safely to enjoy the vibrant art scene.”

Don’t wait until summer, do stop by Hibernation Arts and the other galleries in the Arts District today!

Speaking of galleries, Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery and Studio at 23 Peter St. S., has a guest artist for the month of March, Tammy Robinson. Tammy uses oil paint and sand to infuse her large landscape work with rich colour and textures. Her work is on display for the whole month, so drop by and check it out!

In other arts news, the Orillia Opera House is partnering with The Oakville Centre and Ontario Presents to help keep music alive until everyone can safely gather once again. The trio is presenting five virtual concerts for your enjoyment, starting on Friday, March 5.

Each concert features a wonderful Canadian musician and is presented at a nominal cost. Friday, March 5, The Spoons will put on a great show for anyone who buys a $15 ticket. The concerts following are: Royal Wood on March 12, Men Behind the Music: The Beatles, on March 20, Molly Johnson on April 17, and finally, Whitehorse on May 8. All concerts start at 8 p.m.

Tickets prices range from $10 to $20 per household. Tickets can be scooped up here; the presale code is Orillia. Enjoy these wonderful events from the safety of your living room, and help keep the music alive!

In other fun virtual events, Lakehead University’s Office of Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning (yes that is a mouthful), is partnering with Mariposa Arts Theatre (MAT) and presenting Tea with the Dames!

As part of this hilarious event, you can watch some of the best dames around today, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright, in a wonderful British documentary, Tea with the Dames, before Sunday, March 14 at 4 p.m., when you will be zoomed in to a discussion and cuppa with some of MAT’s own dames and gents, talking about this amusing and quirky film.

You will also help celebrate one of Orillia’s own dames, Sue Mulcahy, on her 100th birthday, in this enjoyable afternoon. For $20 tickets and more information, click here.

Creative Nomad Studios (CNS) is fully embracing the virtual world we are all living in currently, and has several events online each week, while hitting pause on other, in-person events they were hoping to produce in March and April. If you bought a ticket for those events already, don’t worry, tickets will be honoured when it is safe and allowable to have in-person events again.

In the meantime, CNS is presenting Colour Theory for Artists Part 2 on Thurs. March 4 at 2:30 p.m., on YouTube. This is a free workshop, so don’t hesitate to jump in live, or enjoy later at your leisure, through this link.

On March 5 at 7 p.m. CNS presents another virtual paint night with Steph Whalen, Lone Pine. This workshop is only $10 plus materials, and you will have a beautiful and unique work of art at the end of the night! Click here to sign up for this workshop, and if you need supplies, there is a link there to purchase through curbside pick up at CNS.

Lastly, CNS presents Let’s Try Water Soluble Inks, a free workshop live on YouTube March 4 at 1 p.m. Check it out here, live or later. Way to go CNS, for working with what you have and presenting a great variety of fun and interactive workshops!

Finally, another shout out to the Orillia Public Library (OPL). Not only have they been presenting great virtual programming, pivoted quickly to do curbside pick up, supported our seniors, and been a great source of tech support, they are also addressing problems of systemic racism in our culture and in their history.

Check out this statement that OPL put out on Mar. 2:

“The Orillia Public Library recognizes that libraries are rooted in a history of colonialism, anti-Black racism, and white supremacy. While we have always strived to be welcoming and inclusive, we’re now examining our role within a system that creates and perpetuates inequality in our community. OPL will prioritize anti-racism work in our 2021-2024 Strategic Plan by working with Orillia’s BIPOC community to identify gaps and eliminate racial and social equity barriers in library programs, services, policies and practices. We look forward to better serving our entire community and we’re ready to put in the work to do so.”

Kudos to you, OPL!

And kudos, so much, to all of our small businesses, live music, culture, art, and more, who are suffering right now. We support you.

Send your arts news to annaproctor111@gmail.com by Tuesdays at noon to be included in this column.