Hello and welcome to 2021 ... which might look a lot like 2020, at first glance. Yes folks, we are in lockdown again, and we can only hope this helps us keep each other safe and our hospitals and health-care workers able to manage.
Lockdown the second time around, especially in dreary January, could be a bit of a drag, but, never fear, there are some bright moments in arts and culture to look forward to, even in this dark time in the year…and history.
A reader reached out to me to let me know some good arts news about a former Orillian, Tina Wallace, who was born and raised in Orillia and went to Twin Lakes Secondary School.
Art and music were staples in the Wallace household, with dad’s interest in music and mom’s in pastels. Tina delved into art in high school, in an after-school art club run by Ms. Shaw and with the encouragement of her Grade 9 art teacher, Ian McEwen, who, Tina says, “really encourages his students to explore art passionately and unapologetically.”
However, it wasn’t until Wallace was in university that she heard of animation as a way to create art and make a living. Wallace went on to obtain her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Ottawa and a degree in Animation from Algonquin College.
These days, she is working as a storyboard revisionist in the cartoons industry. What does that mean? Wallace says, “basically I draw comic strips for TV.”
So, what’s the good arts news about Wallace? Let’s hear it from her:
“I've been living in Ottawa since 2009. I suppose working backwards, my husband is a music venue owner (LIVE! on Elgin in Ottawa) and big fan of the Collective Arts brand of beer.
"Our contact who makes our deliveries was chatting me up one day after my husband mentioned I was an artist, and he encouraged me to apply to Collective Arts' Artist-Submissions program for a chance for my work to be featured on their beer cans.
“You can select up to three works of art per 'season' of submissions (not sure what the timeline is but they do calls for art on their socials every now and again), and I applied over eight different times," Wallace explained.
"I would say I was more annoying than lucky in that regard. I know it's a rotating wheel of judges who select the artwork, so every season I picked what I thought were my three best images, and for a good three to four years I've been applying," she said.
“It's really exciting to have been selected because I really didn't think anything was going to come of it, especially getting rejection upon rejection.”
You can see Tina’s selected work here.
Congratulations Tina and thanks for the good news story! Orillia really is a hub of arts and culture.
In other good news, local youth will have a chance to participate in Otter Art Club’s Bear Builds a Beaver Dam series of online art workshops, starting this weekend. This series is the brainchild of Travis Shilling and Naomi Woodman, and will really help local youth this dark pandemic winter.
The workshops and art kits are free for members of Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Orillia Youth Centre, UPlift black, and Barrie Native Friendship Centre. For all other youth, the workshops are $60. The first session focuses on oil painting and runs for six weeks starting this Sunday at 1 p.m. For more information, and to register, go to the website.
Mariposa Folk Festival has been uplifting our pandemic with online concerts and now, an addition to the Mariposa Stories on its website, all about Gordon Lightfoot and the festival. You can check out this story and others, here.
There is an online poetry open mic, Shouting Into The Void, happening this Saturday at 8 p.m. Local poet Josh Poitras along with Jeff Manning, are stickhandling this, and it should be a great chance for local poets to air some new works and perhaps gain some new fans. Check out the Facebook event page for all the details and registration information.
Stage Whispers, the podcast on all things theatre in Central Ontario, is still going strong, with a new episode out this Friday with a feature on The Curtain Club Theatre in Richmond Hill. You can catch all of the episodes on any of your podcast streaming platforms, including Spotify, shown here.
The Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH), Leacock Museum, and Orillia Opera House are all closed as per the current lockdown directives, but the Orillia Public Library is offering curbside pick up, and some online programming, including writing groups, conversational French, and virtual storytelling through its YouTube channel. For more information, click here.
The OMAH online shop is open and you can click here to browse and buy from the comfort of your couch.
One last fun, not-so-local cultural event. A friend alerted me to this piece in The Guardian, entitled A 31-Day Literary Diet for January. We might not be able to drink or eat sweets with impunity this month, but this diet will not break the…diet!
Thirty-one days of cultural feasting, with a different feature each day, ranging from poetry readings, music, plays, and movies and more. This is a wonderful site to bookmark and come back to daily to expand your cultural horizons.
Enjoy and hang in there!
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