This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

I did a tour of downtown last Saturday and it was great to see some people and art. First stop was Hibernation Arts to see an old friend and co-worker Mike Sallows. He was at the Packet years ago and he turned out all right; he’s still in the biz as director of prepress, advertising operations and local operations at Postmedia. He started out as a graphic artist and picked up a paint brush or two as he prepares for retirement, “I have to do something,” he said.

Some of his pieces on display at Hibernation are in a divisionism style. Like pointillism, bits of colours in small applications come together to form the objects in a painting – kind of like pixels on your computer monitor do. It’s a rare case when I like all of the pieces an artist picks for a show and it usually happens when the artist is very well skilled as Mike is. We also had a nice chat and I met Barbara Schmidt whose work I’ve noticed lately; she happened to come into the gallery at the same time.

I also went to Cloud Gallery, which is at Creative Nomad Studios. I was in earlier in the week and the whole Simcoe Summer Show with works by Catherine Cadieux, Dave Beckett, Amanda Christina, Melody Madden, Miriam Slan Liz Schamehorne and Sue Miller wasn’t up yet. It was all there on Saturday. It’s in the main floor and there is other work by other artists on the 2nd floor. Usually I can spot work by a particular artist, but there were a few pieces by Liz that fooled me. She’s been working in a different style than we’re used to seeing from her. This is another case of I liked everything I saw.

The Simcoe Summer Show At Cloud Gallery

Earlier in the week I was into Peter Street Fine Arts and saw new work by a new artist to the scene, Al Manseau. He’s got a variety of stuff up from photos to paintings. A couple pieces are of local scenes and the sun and moon figure prominently in several pieces.

Art by Al Manseau at Peter Street Fine Arts

On my early-week tour I noticed the patios at the Hog ‘N Penny and Brewery Bay were being taken advantage of, Couchiching Brewery and Rustica also have their patios operating. I saw people stopping to look the Hippy Vans and many are taking pictures and posting them online.

We also have a new coffee shop. Golden Beaver is occupying space formerly used by Get Stuffed. Johnn and Alissa Ahsome ran a similar operation in Gravenhurst and The Netherlands – coffee in the front, haircuts in the back. I;m glad there’s a place in the Arts District to get a drink and a snack, I’m not so worried about the haircut, even though I’m sure Johnn is a good stylist.

Alissa and Johnn Ahsome Recently Opened Golden Beaver

With the province moving Step 2 up a couple days allowing capacity at galleries to increase, at this rate it’s possible we could go to Step 3 much sooner, that’s when restaurants can open for inside service and OMAH can open so keep rolling up your sleeves and get vaccinated.

Playing In The Street

Mississaga Street will be closed to cars on Friday and Saturday nights this summer. Like last summer, it’s designed to give restaurants and businesses room outside to do their thing, which means the Arts District Galleries and arty places elsewhere downtown will be on the streets too. The Arts District is operating outside every Friday.

It’s not going to be like last summer. Apparently vendors who don’t have an address downtown aren’t allowed this year and only those galleries with a downtown address can have member’s art be on the street, so it may not look as busy as last year. This is because of the way the SMDHU is interpreting provincial regulations. And this affects the music part of the equation too.

If local artists, like say Jimi McKee and John Emberson – both participated last year – take up street space that constitutes an event, instead of a simple street closing to allow merchants to take their goods outside, and the DOMB will have to limit the number of people who can be in attendance – which is something the DOMB can’t control.

So shops and restaurants can only occupy space in front of their addresses and musicians have to be on a property. They can’t set up on the road in front of an establishment. So Brewery Bay, Hog ‘N Penny, Couchiching Brewery can have music on their decks, but not on the pavement. Of course that takes away a table, and leaves other places like Apple Annie’s, which usually hires a musician for sidewalk things, in a position they can’t.

Mariposa Folk Festival, which has an office in the Arts District sponsored James Gray and Zachary Lucky last year to play music downtown. Zachary played around the corner on Mississaga, but they can’t do that now. They are planning to provide some music this year once they have the regulations figured out regarding how it applies to them.

Looking at this from a practicality position – what the heck? Last year was done very well buy the City and the DOMB. Yes, we are in the pandemic still, but things are different, people have been vaccinated, staying at home dropped case numbers are about the same as this time last year and the trend is downward, so this nitpicking seems over the top. Why the City can’t operate like last year is a mystery.

ODAC has offices at Creative Nomad and therefore can set up on the street with artist displays – but only for those who are members ($40/year) of ODAC. Email for details and to become a member.

Creative Nomad is looking for artists to take part in their street 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, painting to the theme. Email ODAC and Creative are doing something together on a Night Market theme Aug 27.

They’re Shootin’ A Movie Here

Sean Cisterna, who produced and directed the last movie (From The Vine) shown at MAT Film Night and Kiss and Cry, which is on Netflix, is shooting an unnamed movie here starting July 12.

As one can guess, Bill Dunlop is the connection between the production and Orillia being used as a location. He has a knack for convincing people to come up this way to shoot movies. Bill is kind of funneling applications for crew and getting set locations organized. He says there will be 5 or 6 places in town used as sets.

They’d like to use local people for crew and need set dressers, props, wardrobe, hair and make-up, and general production assistants. If you have worked on a Mariposa Arts Theater production, or lugged gear for me when I was shooting Rogers programs, or been backstage for high school productions, the skills are transferable. Forward a resume by email to Bill at Your experience doesn’t have to be extensive. There is a budget so you will get paid and they expect to be shooting for two weeks here.

Bill can’t say much about what the movie is other than it’s mocumentary.
Cisterna’s earlier movie, Moon Point, was loosely based on his time when he lived here. MAT is also loaning out some of their vast holdings of props and costumes for the movie.

Mostly Online Distracters

Marci Csumrik’s Orillia Youth Centre  tooth care fundraiser is still going. She came into possession of a number of old vinyl records (a mix of bands and singers from Mel Torme to the Bee Gees) and is selling them on her Facebook page. All the money is going into the Youth Centre’s dental care fund so kids from families which can’t afford proper care can get it.

The Orillia Museum of Art and History can’t open yet, but has some outside things you can do. A Saints and Sinners tour  (all the bars and hotels that used to be the main attraction in downtown Orillia) is still in the planning stages, a Friday night tour for families is open for registration, and they have a Saturday morning outdoor program for kids. They’ll be on the street Friday nights with activities. Jill Price’s Fur is a History Speaker’s Night online event. She’ll be doing it with John Savage, who is a Gaudaur descendant, talking about fur trade. At the same link you can register for some workshops Jill will lead.

I stumbled on a video some musicians in Rama made. It’s called Rama Players Presents: Acoustic Music of the 70’s and the players are James Simcoe, Leanne McRae-Douglas, Ronnie Douglas, Rick Benson and Scotty Snache. It was recorded for First Nation’s Day and they played songs by CSN&Y, Gregg Allman, The Eagles, Peter Frampton, Supertramp, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young and the Beatles which were the ones people in the community favoured at the time the songs were new. You can play it from the website, or download it in HD or SD here.

James Simcoe, Leanne McRae-Douglas, Ronnie Douglas, Rick Benson and Scotty Snache

ODAC redesigned their website and recently concluded a program called Discovering the Artist Within, which was designed to give women in dire straits an opportunity to release some of the angst by creating art. ODAC got almost $17,000 in funding for the online program and was able to hire 7 artists (one for each week of the program) to deliver workshops on journaling, personal expression planters, sculpting, printmaking, beading and kintsugi (I didn’t know what that is either – it’s the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage in an artful way. Nine children and 22 women took part.

Laura Lee Mattthie and Laura Christie’s Orillia Secondary School students did their spring concert online. There are several instrumental, vocal ensembles and soloists performing and I really liked the first jazz band’s performance of Strike Up The Band; they were nice and tight and pulled off a swing feel very well (that’s hard to do). The video is just over an hour, so have a listen.

The Opera House has cancelled the first play (Norm Foster’s Come Down From Up River ) of the summer theater season. They also are not betting regulations will allow the second one, Driving Miss Daisy, to be possible – so both will be part of the 2022 season. The good news, Norm Foster will be on stage for his own Old Love, starting August 18.  You can get your tickets online for the Opera House summer theater. If you have tickets already you can change them to the last play, or credit them to next year. To make the switch, call the box office at 705-326-8011 or email .

Artistically inclined fans of Rush should be able to get excited about Sustainable Orillia’s second round of their year-long effort to inspire artists to make environmentally themed work and to have a chance to get a $75 prize. The theme is Trees.  Visit their website to enter.

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.

Visit 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.

Aaron Mangoff has put out 5 EP’s and 3 singles in the last year and you can hear them here.

Check out Stuart Steinhart’s excellent new album, It’s About Time, on  Bandcamp.

See 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: Art by Mike Sallows at Hibernation Arts

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