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OMAH, thanks to 'fearless' leadership, is the place to be!

Museum and its programming have grown by leaps and bounds, enthuses arts and entertainment columnist Anna Proctor
murray van halem
Local artist Murray Van Halem will host four weeks of portrait painting workshops at the Orillia Museum of Art and History this month.

Is anyone else shocked that it’s May already? With the non-spring weather we’ve been having, I keep thinking it’s end of March, and then getting surprised by all the events coming up so quickly.

I want to give a quick kudos and shout out to Roots North Music Festival. What a phenomenal couple of days of great music, flawlessly executed by both musicians and volunteers.

The five-year-old festival is put together by a small but mighty and hard-working committee of local volunteers who just love live music. Both headlining evenings at St. Paul’s Centre were full of lovely sounds with lots of great surprises, as was the full day roster of live free music throughout the downtown, and the late nights at the Brownstone café.

Roots North sold out this year, so don’t delay getting your tickets next year for this awesome homegrown music festival.

So, it is May, and with May come many more happenings in O-Town. I’m going to start with the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH). This venerable institution has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, most especially since the arrival of executive director Ninette Gyorody.

This fearless lady with non-stop energy has brought hundreds of new ideas and programs to OMAH since she arrived in June 2013. She has also brought lots of new volunteers and staff members to execute these ideas. I’m going to touch upon just a few of the events coming up at OMAH this month.

Tuesdays in May from 1 to 4 p.m., local artist Murray Van Halem will be running a portrait painting class. All skill levels are welcome, and participants are asked to register though OMAH. Cost is $120 for members, $150 for non-members.

OMAH’s monthly lunch and learn this month is Textile Printing with Samantha Dewaele. Participants are invited to create their own stamp using lino, then use it to print their own neck scarf, pocket square, or hankie. Lunch is provided by White Lions Tea House. Register through OMAH, $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

On May 31, OMAH is hosting a casual Wine and Paint Night. All levels are welcome, come get your paint skills on. $30 for members, $40 for non-members.

May 8 is OMAH’s Carmichael Art History lecture, on The Art of Money: Design of Canadian Coinage with Robert Browne and Tony Bianco. Orillia artist Bianco has designed over 100 coins for the Royal Canadian Mint. This will be a fascinating evening, cost is $15 and it gets underway 7:30 p.m. at the OMAH.

Also in May, as part of the History Speakers series, Dr. Chris Decker will be speaking about Glenn Gould’s connection to our area through his cottage in Uptergrove. This lecture is on May 15 at 7:30 p.m. at OMAH.

OMAH also has many fun children’s and youth workshops, including the free Family Fun drop-in from 2 to 3 p.m. every Sunday.

OMAH is located at 30 Peter St. S. and you can register for all events by calling 705-326-2159 or stopping by and registering at the front desk. BTW, membership is only $35 for an individual or $55 for a family so you might as well pick one up while you are there.

Another venerable institution in O-Town is the Orillia Opera House (OOH). May brings lots of different shows to this grand old lady, starting with the Orillia Youth Centre’s Blacklight Theatre show, See My Voice, with two shows on May 7, at 4:30 and 7 p.m., admission by donation.

May 8 at 7:30 p.m. vocal powerhouse Matt Andersen graces the stage with The Mellotones; tickets are $48.

May 9 at 8 p.m., Classic Albums Live presents Led Zeppelin: House of the Holy; tickets are $45.50.

The Dance Room’s 15th annual recital is May 11 at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., and May 12 Orillia Silver Band Goes to the Beach at 2:30 p.m.

On May 15, a unique play, Empty Regalia, starts at 7 p.m. This play, about five missing and murdered Indigenous women, is a real show-stopper and is a fundraiser for Green Haven Shelter for Women. Tickets are $30 and funds will go to Green Haven.

Tickets for all events at the OOH can be purchased through the box office at 705-326-8011 or here.

This week in somewhat under the radar, is the Sunshine Fibre Fest May 4 at ODAS Park.

Here’s the blurb, from the Facebook event page: “Fabulous fleece and fibre festival featuring diverse vendors, demonstrations, live animals and more. This event is designed to showcase connections between animals and the fibres they produce, and to recruit beginners of all ages to the joys of fibre and needlecrafts while offering lots of interest to the experienced textile crafter too. Vendors from across Canada will have yarn, fibre, tools and accessories available to purchase. Lunch is available on-site. Join our back-to-basics revolution.” The fest runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., do check it out, it sounds like lots of fun.

Also on May 4, a lot going on: An Evening of Song with Doreen Uren Simmons, Lillian Brooks and Amy Dodington, at St. Paul’s Centre at 7 p.m., admission by donation.

Hibernation Arts show opening, Abstractly Thinking, from 1 to 3 p.m. Affirmation Bowls workshop at Atherley Arts, 1 to 3 p.m., register here.

Three Crows Speak Studio show opening will feature John Ivan Etherington, coming all the way from the Arctic.

Both Monsignor Lee and Lion’s Oval schools are having craft sales, starting at 10 a.m., hit them both up for the best deals and to support our schools.

Quick save the date: The Sunshine Initiative is hosting the Orillia’s Choice Awards at the Geneva Event Centre, May 9 at 7 p.m. This is a free event where people pitch their ideas to make Orillia an even better place to be, to a panel of judges and the live audience. Winners receive some cash to help launch their ideas.

Live music this weekend? But of course! May 5, an open mic at the Legion hosted by Hobo Jam. May 4, Charlie Weber and the Glorious Failures at the Brownstone café. May 3, Jazz Trio at the Hog ‘n’ Penny. May 3, Feels Fine and Joncro at the Brownstone. May 4, The Straight Goods at the Hog ‘n’ Penny. Elvis or someone who looks and sounds a lot like him is at the casino, May 4.

That’s all I have time or space for, this week. Send me your arts news, Happy May!