By John Swartz
Have you been to downtown Leslieville, I mean Orillia. We are turning a corner. With stores opening up tomorrow and able to have a limited number of customers inside, restaurants able to have outdoor service, stats showing a more rapid decline in virus cases than predicted prompting a bit of acceleration of the bi-weekly staged return to some kind of normal, there’s bit of excitement in the air and colour on the streets.
By the end of the week most of the 29 Hippy Vans will placed, 30 Peace Symbols will be on light poles and 20 smaller Peace Symbols at various stores too. There are a few stragglers that may not be out yet, but those are the numbers Leslie Fournier expects.
There won’t be a kickoff event because we’re not far enough along the reopening path, but Leslie is hoping to have some kind of event in August. When we can move about more freely she’ll have guidebooks available and places set up for people to vote on their favourites. When an August event happens the prize winners ($10k, $5k and $2,500) will be announced.
I took a slow drive down Mississaga this week. The block above West has virtually all new stores opposite the library, a couple below West, and between Peter and Front has so many new stores recently opened, or about to open, you may not recognize the joint if you haven’t been down in a while.
Besides the vans and Peace Symbols, past year’s Streets Alive sculptures are still in abundance. It really makes the downtown look colourful and is a fantastic reflection of the community to show to visitors – when they are able to come (and not before).
That Was Fun While It Lasted
We won’t be able to have, or go to, concerts or large gatherings for some time, even after stage 3 kicks in. Still, people in the arts community are exhibiting optimism for the ability to work for money again, but for musicians it’s going to be limited.
Some musicians have been earning a bit of money with online, limited access events, and others just doing it because they have to.
Steven Henry is one of those. He started doing two-hour concerts from his Warminster studio the weekend we went into stay-at-home orders last March and he kept doing them until this past Sunday.
“It was all my pleasure. It kept my face out there, it kind of kept my chops together a little bit, but mostly it was a lot of fun to learn new tunes,” Steven said. “Doing those Saturday nights every week, I learned probably 30 new tunes.”
Steven only missed a couple Saturday nights.
“I had two gigs I booked, so there’s only two of them I messed from last March to last week”
He took requests, sometimes pulling a tune out of the bag on the fly, sometimes saying he’d have to learn it and do it the next week. Most weeks he had more than 200 viewers and many weeks several hundreds. Some of the viewers were out of province extending to both coasts, and a few here and there from other continents.
Last Saturday was the last concert. He ended hinting he has something in the works that will be online, but was pretty cryptic about what it would be, so I asked.
“I don’t even know if it’s going to fly,” he said.
I’m not going to give it away, but if anyone is aware of what Daryl Hall has been doing on line you can make an educated guess.
It will involve a new band Steven put together, guest performers, and he won’t be doing anything from his current repertoire.
“I want to get rid of anything I’ve ever done. I want all new songs. They can be old songs, but I want new (to me) ones. I don’t want to do When A Man Loves a Woman any more, I don’t want to do I Heard It Through The Grapevine. They’re like, “Oh my God, you’re going to really punish us and make us learn 40 new songs?” Yes sir.”
That also means no To Sir With Love, or Lorraine or and other tunes from his very good CD (Rod Stewart – he wears it well) . Before I move on, a couple things about When a Man and To Sir. He’s been doing the former for abut ten years and as far as I’m concerned it’s the best version anyone has done. The latter I only heard him do on the livestreams; it’s not a song anyone else covers, so it was interesting to hear Steven’s take on it. Mention those tunes in my presence and the old brain is going to rewind and play Steven’s versions. Forget Lulu or Percy Sledge, especially Michael Bolton, or anyone else who did them before.
Steven is not necessarily going to play hits either, unless it’s a long forgotten one like To Sir, he’s going to find the good ones radio may have overlooked that are still easily recognizable.
If it comes together it will be a half hour show live-to-tape (computer really) and then streamed on something, maybe Youtube. Good luck with it, I hope it comes together.
And, I also hope come the fall when nominations open for the Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards somebody nominates Steven for this concert series and maybe for innovating on a local level. This should not get overlooked, and when nominations open, I will be reminding you.
Look At That
The galleries are opening Friday, except for OMAH (they fall into a different category and have to wait).
I had a chat with Mark Fletcher and Cloud Gallery is opening Friday, but he’s still planning for a special day June 18 for the new The Simcoe Summer Show exhibit featuring work by Catherine Cadieux, Dave Beckett, Amanda Christina, Melody Madden, Miriam Slan Liz Schamehorne and Sue Miller. Cloud was only open for two days before it had to close and still Mark sold 23 paintings during the forced house arrest. Hibernation Arts was closed, but Molly Farquharson told me last week she sold a few too. She’s itching to have people come into the gallery as well and you can see guest artist Mike Sallows’s work.
Cloud is in Creative Nomad Studios and Anitta Hamming said they’ll be open for members to come in and do whatever they do in their rented space – but she wants people to call or text first to make sure she doesn’t go over the limits allowed for Phase 1 (Part II). Creative Nomad also has online things happening, including a free dance program
The Orillia Museum of Art and History has some outside things planned. Lindsay Earle is developing a Saints and Sinners tour, all the bars and hotels that used to be the main attraction in downtown Orillia, and last stop is at Couchiching Brewery. There is also a tour families can take being developed, and day camp programs are being readied for Step 1.
OMAH also has the Spring Back With OMAH and Charles Pachter Art Auction. Previews are open online right now. Bidding is also open now, register here, and closes Friday June 11 at p.m. The proceeds from selling paintings and prints by Charles and proceeds will be used to fund programming and the endowment fund.
Charles donated prints and paintings in for auction at OMAH 2014, and then again at his studio in 2018. Tens of Thousands of dollars have been raised by the auctions.
“I have always been impressed with OMAH’s professionalism and dedication to the Orillia community. I have enjoyed our longstanding relationship, and am happy to be able to continue supporting them,” Charles said in a note to me.
Their is an online program June 11 live from Charles’s studio, Moose Factory Orillia. You’ll see how to register for that at the link above and you’ll notice there are some other things you can do to go along with the event. There’s drinks and dessert from the Common Stove, and a Paint Like Pachter workshop available. If you are not a museum member (why?) just click the + sign next to the item you want.
There are also two other online events happening. June 23 at 7 p.m. Will McGarvey will be doing a tour of his show Stick and Stones. You can find the link to register here, and also see some of the pieces in the show (which you can also see in person when the gallery opens).
Jill Price’s Fur is also having an online event. She’ll be doing it with John Savage, who is a Gaudaur descendant, talking about fur trade. Some of the art from her show, Unfurled, will be online shortly and you can find an event registration link there too.
The OMAH’s history side has Speaker’s Night happening online June 16 at 7 p.m. on Zoom with Cathy Walton speaking about barns (still standing, and long gone) and the families connected to them. Register at 705-326-2159 or use the email above, to get the login info for the free presentation.
Check out OMAH’s Facebook page, including daily video shorts with Charles about the auction.
Last, ODAC is planning to be present at the pedestrian mall downtown starting July 2. They have an opportunity for ODAC members to show their art. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details and to become a member.
Some Things Worth Repeating
The Canadian Live Music Association is mounting an online petition where you can send emails directly to MPPs about reopening steps. They want to be able to start rehearsals, live stream events and have better rules about when audiences can be in the same room. They say the restrictions on live performances are not the same as other similar industries, and we all know musicians, actors and all the other theater professionals have been playing tiddlywinks instead of being able to work.
Meanwhile, at the Opera House, they are still preparing to go ahead with summer theater. Norm Foster’s Come Down From Up River opens June 30/July 2. The other plays are Driving Miss Daisy (July 21 – Aug. 13) and Foster’s Old Love (Aug. 18 – Sept. 3). You can get tickets now. I’d advise getting the Flex package and you can then pick your show when things open up.
Any tickets can be exchanged for other Opera House produced shows, if things don’t happen according to plan.
Youth Centre Fundraiser
The Orillia Youth Center has another fundraiser happening and it’s online. Marci Csumrik came into possession of about 130 vinyl records, Sinatra, Mel Torme, Dean Martin, some other singers of that era, some Bee Gees Lionel Richie, Bread and the like, compilation albums of hits from the 70s, and some classical collections and she’s selling them from her Facebook page (each album has its own entry and price indicated). Some albums have more than one copy available. If you want one (or two or three), just type SOLD in the comment, and you’ll be contacted to make arrangements to pay and pick up. Every dollar is going to the youth center’s dental fund to pay for young people to have dental care, particularly those who need braces.
The feds want to know how some people are doing with the Canadian Artists and Content Creators Economic Survey. The survey wants input from writers, visual and musical artists, performing artists and directors and you have until June 18 to do it. They are trying to determine the effect COVID-19 had on your output and income and get a sense of what programs you have used or would like to use. You do not need to be a full-time artist to do the survey.
I missed marking 100 columns since going online 25 weeks ago, so I won’t make a big deal about this one being the 125th and wait until I hit 150 to crack a Canadian.
Entries for the Leacock Museum’s K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry Contest are open to June 30. Each category has three cash awards ranging from the $750 top prize in the adult category to $25 for third in the elementary school-age children category. Go here to find out more details and get entry forms.
Creative Nomad is looking for artists to take part in summer pedestrian mall activities. July 2nd they need 4 artists for Shifted 3 – paint like crazy for 20 minutes, get a new canvas and start another. August 13 they need 8 artists for Into The Light –no time limit, paint to the theme. Email email@example.com. And check out Creative Nomad Studios Facebook page for three video tours of the facilities. There are some tutorial videos on the Youtube page too. And they have a bunch of online art workshops happening. Find out more here.
If you liked the Sawdust City Sun Lager last summer, order it and like it again this summer. This is a special label created for the Mariposa Folk Festival.
Zachary Luck has another concert online June 13 at 3 p.m. It’s live on Youtube.
Check out Steve Caston’s videos on his Facebook page. The artist, musician and humourist usually has something new to see.
Max Metcalf and his band John’s Cottage have some tunes and made some videos to enjoy.
Joe Huron will continue playing jazz guitar Sunday’s at noon on Facebook until we get to Stage 3.
(Photos By Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main; Hippy Van by Dave Shaw located across the street form his Makers Market.