This week in Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz
Jan. 10, 2019

Twenty Years ago the Orillia’s hysterical faction and the artsy-phartsy Sir Sam Steele Gallery types got themselves in a Reece’s Pieces situation and joined together to form the Orillia Museum of Art & History.

Early on they were operating out of the coach house behind where Zephyr Gallery once was on Peter Street while the first floor of the Sir Sam Steele building was being renovated.

While the next renovation in 2012 to fix up the second and third floors was happening, the move to unite the galleries into the Orillia Peter Street Arts District gained steam and OMAH became the anchor of the block.

All together the museum board and members raised $3.3 million for the renovations.

Over the years they’ve had some fantastic exhibits and events, with 2017 and 2018 being banner years in terms of the number of exhibits they produced in the 4 gallery rooms they now have, and in the quality of the work being shown.

I remember a time when Orillia council was skeptical about whether OMAH would even float. There are still some councillors who get anxious when it comes to budget time, wondering how much support the City should give. It’s interesting to note the City’s $150,000 is just less than 25% of the museum’s annual revenue. They also have $2.8 million in assets, which includes the value of the collection, all the other stuff between the exterior walls, and endowment and capital funds. I’d say they are doing well.

To mark the anniversary year they have the OMAH @ 20 exhibit opening reception Jan. 26 from 2 to 4 p.m. An exhibit will be up to March 31. Pieces that haven’t made it into other exhibits over the years are going to see some daylight. There will be two Alex Colville prints (of the 4 in the collection) and a grandfather clock from the Tait mansion foyer (if anybody’s old enough to remember that) among other things.

On the 27th they will open the annual high school exhibit in the Lounge Gallery. Technically it will be up on the 26th and stay that way until March 17. Students from schools in Halliburton, Hunstville, Trillium Lakelands school district and Lindsay, as well from Twin Lakes Secondary and OSS will have pieces hanging around.

Jan. 16 is history speaker’s night and Evelyn Ross is in to talk about “Fleeing Nazi Europe.” That starts at 7:30 p.m. And, Storytelling Orillia’s first of the year is Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. They’re calling this one “Good for a Laugh,” and Tim Greenwood is the marquee storyteller. He’s going to read Stuart McLean’s essay about Stephen Leacock (this is the 150th anniversary year of Stevie’s birth) and something about some guy’s night on a lake.

Trivia moment. Did you know there really is a Knights of Pythias fraternity? Apparently there’s a chapter in B.C., but it’s an American organization which was the first such chartered by and act of congress in the U.S. Louis Armstrong was a member along with some notable politicians.

If you haven’t been in lately, the Labour of Art textile show and the Legacy Landscapes: Couchiching Conservancy’s 25th Anniversary show will still be up. Deb Grise’s landscapes are up for another week and a half in the Lounge Gallery.

One more thing, if you’ve been working on a book length anything to do with Orillia, OMAH is taking submissions for the Mulcahy Publishing Initiative until Jan. 31. Email with the subject header Mulcahy Initiative for details. OK, one more, one more thing, OMAH is looking for people to be part of the new Art In Public Places committee they are managing for the City of Orillia – Municipality. You must be a resident of Orillia or surrounding townships, including Rama, and having some kind of arts background is desirable. It’s a two year term. Send a resume by 4 p.m. Jan. 18 to

Visual Arts & Stuff

More art stuff. St. Paul’s Orillia has the Reconciliation Art Project Workshop happening Jan. 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is an opportunity to create your own art amidst of the (Re)conciliation Art Project works. Cost is $50, $30 for students. Register at the office (Peter Street entrance) Mondays through Thursdays.

St. Paul’s also has a Rabbie Burns concert with The Celts Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. You can get tickets ($27) at the Opera House box office, 705-326-8011.

St. Paul’s is also the venue for the Huronia Cultural Campus’s Cottagers and Indians, a play by Drew Hayden Taylor, Feb. 1. Get tickets ($30) at or the Opera House box office.

Hibernation Arts has Apun My Words: Visual Puns opening Saturday at 1 p.m. See new work by Gayle Schofield, and stuff by Patti Agapi, Greg Thompson, Shirley Verrette and of course Molly Farquarson. Hibernation is also having a February group show – What is Love? and invites all artists to submit work. Any medium is acceptable, no bigger than 24×24. Email mollytas@gmail for details.

ARt & HOME Studio has an opening reception Saturday at 1 p.m. to welcome new artists Pauline Tafflemire, Catherine Taylor, Louise St. Amour, Rob Henderson, Barbara Stofast, Cheryl Sartor and Marie Jose VanLangerjit

Anitta Hamming has Painting in Realism With Acrylics workshops at The Loft (23 Mississaga East, Unit 3) Jan. 19 and 20. Sign up at Intoxicating Canvas,

The Shorts

  • Mariposa Arts Theatre’s next movie night is Jan. 9 at the Galaxy at 4 and 7 p.m. The pick is Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore’s take on Individual-1. Jan. 16 it’s What They Had (Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster and Blythe Danner). The next play MAT is doing is The Diary of Anne Frank at the Opera House starting Feb. 7.
  • The Orillia Concert Band is having a Trivia Night fundraiser Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at Kelsey’s Restaurant. Admission is $10 per person with teams of 4 or join one. It starts at 7 p.m. Hit the link above to RSVP.
  • The Geneva Event Centre is roaring into 2019, with laughter. The The Old Dance Hall Players are in Jan. 29 with “Tongues Stuck to Metal.” Get tickets ($15 advance, $20 at the door) by emailing On Feb. 9 Yuk Yuk’s with featured comic Rob Bebenek with Nigel Grinstead and Bryan Hatt are in for a show. Get tickets ($25) at
  • The Jubilee Chorale is starting 2019 with a recruiting drive. They rehearse Wednesdays from 7 to 9:15 p.m. at St. David’s Anglican/Lutheran Church. Email for more details.
  • The Mariposa Folk Festival has the 8th annual Evening of Blues and Gospel concert happening Feb. 9 at St. Paul’s Centre. Lance Anderson has wrangled Harrison Kennedy, Michelle White, Jesse Whiteley, Gary Craig and Dennis Pendrith to play along with him. Get tickets ($30) at or at the Peter Street Arts District office.
  • The Leacock Museum National Historic Site has a full British Breakfast on Sunday’s starting Jan. 13. It’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They’d like you to call for reservations at 705-329-1908.
  • Doug Shakell is running a song writing contest. Write a song about Washago, record it on video and submit it to by March 15, 2019. There are prizes, $500 for the winner. The top ten get to perform their entry at the Washago Community Centre March 31.
  • Miriam Slan is all happy and excited. She’s going to be one of the 250 artists selected for the Artist Project Toronto Contemporary Art Fair at the Better Living Centre (CNE) from Feb. 21 to 24. Me, my eyes still haven’t adjusted back to normal from the explosion of colour I was subjected to when I saw a smattering of her recent work at the Leacock Museum during the Images studio Tour. I noticed Carlos Delgado is also one of the artists selected (different Carlos though).I also noticed a former Zephyr member, Katja van den Enden, is listed. Get tickets at
  • Coming up… The Brownstone Cafe has good news, they got a new mixing board and a stage monitor, so Alex won’t have to do a mad dash to fix a mix; Television Rd. is in Friday night; the Drunk Poets’ Society has their anniversary Jan. 17 … the Hog N’ Penny has Darrin Davis in Friday night; Paul Joseph Leo is in Saturday night… The Orillia Opera House has the Mudmen playing Jan. 19; the Vagina Monologues returns (fundraiser for Green Haven Shelter for Women) Feb. 22… As Is are playing the ANAF Club Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. … The Orillia Silver Band announced Mackenzie Walsh is the recipient of the 2018 Harry Peacock Scholarship.

(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)

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