This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

It’s never a good week, or column, to have to write about people who are no longer with us. We lost two people who brought joy to our little corner of the world.

Sunday evening I got a message Mike Dodd passed away. I’m sure there are a lot of people who grabbed a copy of the Packet the day after a game to see if Mike mentioned them in his report of whatever game they were playing, or even better spent a paragraph or two writing about something they did which turned a game or sealed a win.

Mike would not have written about me, I did not live here when I was younger and playing sports, though when I coached baseball in the Orillia Legion Minor Baseball Association he would have written about some of my players come playoff time. Maybe he did in 1995 when I got coach of the year, I don’t remember. My point is, there is a thrill to seeing your name in print and Mike put many people’s names in the pages of the Packet..

Mike Dodd and Sylvester (Submitted)

Mike was a central player in the culture of our community. Make no mistake, sports is part of the cultural fabric of any community. It often is the case people like Mike at the heart of things often don’t get the recognition for their role until they aren’t here to hear or read the words. Sure there are some thanks along the way from individuals, but it’s rare journalists are recognized by the community while they are still alive.

On top of that, while many knew he had health issues throughout his life, maybe many did not know the extent. I certainly didn’t in the early years of my career which brought me close to his orbit. He wasn’t the kind of guy to let that sort of thing get in the way of doing the job.

One of the reasons why is he loved sports, and I think he was a student of so many games. For some people like Mike, there is a point where the knowledge gained gives insight to how a play worked or why some dynamic of a goal, basket or sunk putt stuck out as extraordinary – and then he had the gift to write about it and tell others in a way even casual observers could understand. You were smarter about whatever game he wrote about than you were before you opened the paper.

He leaves a hole. Orillia does not have a sports writer dedicated to keeping us informed of the exploits of our neighbours. We haven’t for several years and now Mike is gone we realize the important role he filled.

Amoy Levy (Submitted)

Another person also left the planet recently.  Amoy Levy died December 28, but the news wasn’t circulating until her funeral was imminent last week. I realize many of you are wondering why a singer from Toronto would be important enough to note her passing here in Orillia – unless you happened to have caught her perform at the annual Mariposa Folk Festival’s Gospel and Blues concert.

Lance Anderson brought her here three times. I think he was forced to bring her back twice because of the ruckus she stirred just by singing. People noticed. It’s always a good thing for the box office to bring crowd favourites back.

Lance usually had three singers for Gospel and Blues concerts and in a 2017 preview, the last time she did the gig, I had this to say, “I’m not going to say Amoy is the star of this lot, but last year she pretty well stole the show.”

Amoy was a chorus leader and music teacher when she wasn’t singing professionally. She sang in many commercials, so if you missed the concerts you would have heard her voice. She also worked with, and this is the short list, Andy Kim, Ron Sexsmith, Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Olivia Newton John, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tom Cochrane, Danny Brooks, Ken Whiteley, and the Toronto Mass Choir.

Amoy was not in good health either. She had a heart attack last summer and died in hospital while they were trying to get her strong enough to do heart surgery.

Music and Other Stuff

Cole Mendez is taking to the tubes to pass on his knowledge of music. I think it will be a successful venture because I remember the first time I saw him play when he was in Grade 9 or so and he left an impression on me. You can catch the first of the series on Youtube.

Art By Lisa Kate

Anitta Hamming is not waiting for our extended vacation to end in order to get things going at Creative Nomad Studios. She’s got an online series called ABT2 CRe8 and the first installment at 1 p.m. Thursday is free to watch on Creative Nomad’s Youtube channel. She has posted a materials list here. You can sign up for this and subsequent tutorials (or other courses offered) here.  She’s covering how to paint a water droplet this week. I know two artists who do water so well you get thirsty looking at their work. Dave Beckett uses pastels, and Anitta uses acrylic paint.

Reay has just upload to Youtube their newest video for the song Junkyard. You can watch it and other video they produced here.

Zain Campbell has a new video for his tune Fences, which is a tribute to Jake Beers. He has other videos to see here.

Steven Henry is still singing songs on Saturday nights. Check in at 8 p.m. here.

Joe Huron plays some jazz guitar Sunday’s at noon on Facebook.  Catch him here.  

Leslie Fournier has begun to post pictures of this year’s Streets Alive Hippie Van project. Not content with that, she also is having artists do peace signs, which you can see an example of at the same link. The motivator for the theme is the 60th anniversary (+1) of the Mariposa Folk Festival.

Watch, Be Entertained And Learn

The Orillia Centre for Arts and Culture has a series of online workshops and performances coming up February 6 and 7. It’s called Pixels, Programming and Pragmatism ad there are 5 workshop/events. Taking part is free.

Everything starts with a panel discussion with Freya Olafson, Jeremy Mimnagh, Omar Rivero (Driftnote) and Luke Garwood about doing art online – by yourself or in collaboration with others. Register here.

At 2 p.m. Freya Olafson and Luke Garwood lead a workshop called Introduction to AR. AR is Augmented Reality, which is digitally putting things into real time video that isn’t there. Register here.

On February 7 there are three events. The first at 11 a.m. is a workshop about creating an online identity and presence using Squarepsace with Sean Rees. Register for this event here.

At 2 p.m. a workshop by Franchesca Chudnuff and Omar Rivero is about how to take ideas to completion using Augmented Reality, 3D scanning and music and video editing. Register here.

At 7 p.m. the event closes with performances By T.M. Glass, Francesca Chudnuff, Driftnote and ensemble performance featuring Fides Krucker. Register here.

Write On

The Leacock Associates opened the annual student writing competition this week. It’s pen to high school and college students aged 14 to 19. They are looking for the student who can write the most humourous story in 1500 words or less.

There are prizes of $1,000, $700 and $300, plus finalists get to read their stories at the June 4 Meet the Authors night – assuming there can be an event this year. The prize money comes from the Dunkley Charitable Foundation donation, which is sponsoring the student contest and the Medal for Humour prizes for 5 years.

There’s a long list of entry details which can be found here. Email for more details or questions.

Tourism Grants

The Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7), of which Orillia is a partner had non-repayable grants ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 for small and medium size tourism businesses and not-for-profits.

This money is intended to assist with pandemic expenses like addition or expansion of patios at restaurants, plexiglass barriers at counters or between tables, touchless payment systems, reservation systems, sanitization stations, COVID-19 sanitizer fogging equipment and other items. The definition of what qualifies as being in the tourism sector is:

  • Accommodation (hotels, motels, resorts, campgrounds and recreational vehicle facilities)
  • Recreation and entertainment (zoos, museums, theatres, sports facilities, amusement parks, government parks, heritage sites, hunting, fishing or outdoor adventure outfitters, casinos)
  • Food and beverage services (restaurants from fast service to fine dining, as well as pubs, nightclubs, cruise ships and convention centres)
  • Travel service (retail travel agencies, wholesale tour companies, corporate offices with their own booking divisions)
  • Transportation (companies that provide transport by air, land or water, and include airlines, bus companies, taxi companies, ferry services and cruise ships)
  • Not-for-profit enterprises and Indigenous organizations/communities that support tourists
  • Retail stores heavily dependent on tourism may also be considered

The City’s senior manager of business development, Laura Thompson, sent a note saying this is s good opportunity for businesses to apply for funding with an eye toward being able to participate in this summer’s patio program, See You On The Patio. She said expenses for the program have to be made by March 31.

Applications can be downloaded here, and the deadline is January 31.

(Images Supplied)

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