This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

Paul Baxter always seems to be thinking bigger, in a more grand fashion than people think he’ll perform. Take the Streets Alive Hippy Van project for example. The objective was for artists to paint fabrications of VW vans all the cool kids had back in the late 60s and early 70s as a tribute to the 60th Mariposa Folk Festival in 2020.

“Initially it was just going to be hippies, just crammed in hippies in a big massive hippy orgy in a van,” Paul said.

He did end up with a bunch of people crammed into a van, which when you think about it is standard operating procedure for having one of those vans, but this tightly arranged group of people aren’t your typical hippy convention.

“I changed it to the musicians and I thought, if I’m going to paint this many musicians I’m not going to do it just for one van. I can’t, that’s too much work for one person, and I wasn’t going to paint that small, on ribs and try to get it looking (good).”

So he painted a 4×8 foot portrait of famous musicians who have appeared at Mariposa over the years. The only one in the van who isn’t a musician is the driver. That image is of Richard Flohill; he is a well-known, in the music industry, publicist, and so far, I don’t think he’s missed being here for Mariposa since it returned in 2000.

Paul Baxter’s Hippy Van

You can see a difference between the flat portrait and the van, and imagine the difficulty painting around the window and door frames of the metal van. Paul got around that issue by having a vinyl print made and putting it on the blank just like a van wrap.

So now he has his van, which is near the corner of Mississaga and Matchedash Streets, and a huge painting, and Paul always has a plan for what he produces.

“It’s going to go out on the street. It will go near my van somewhere, but it’s not a permanent thing,” he said. “Ultimately I’d like to sell this piece, but I need to find a buyer. It’s going to go somewhere.” 

And like most things creative people do, the longer it sits in front of you , the more you see things to add or improve, so Paul has some ideas to add some finishing touches, like put a lable of the wine bottle Ian Thomas is holding, maybe hang some air fresheners in the front window.

Paul is also usually working on pieces for community groups too. He just finished a small scale lighthouse for the Building Hope project, and he’s working on some stuff for the Scottish Festival. He’s also got a live, watch-him-paint-it project he’s preparing for this Friday night.

He’s going to do a portrait of Chris Bellchambers.

“This is very impromptu,” Paul said. “It’s all a quick, spectacle – a thanks Chris, Rest in Peace,” kind of thing.

He’s done a small version of the portrait and is working right now on setting it up on a larger scale to paint on a canvas. People can come downtown and watch him do it, though the exact location isn’t finalized, it will be in the vicinity of the Farmers’ Market/Opera House/Creative Nomad Studios area.  Paul is hoping the portrait can be used for fundraisers, i.e. transferred to t-shirts.

“He could still be giving to the community,” Paul said. Paul knows many in the community have expressed their feelings and contributed to some fundraisers in Chris’s name, but:

“I thought, you know what? I need to say something a little more,” Paul said. Paul organizes Art in the Park in the waterside pavilion at Couchiching Beach Park whenever there is an even happening. “He was a big help. He helped me out a lot. It won’t be the same going down to the park and not have him drop the chain at the gate.”

Everyone has a story about Chris, and Paul has one too.

“He really wanted to go in a kayak. I brought my kayak and we went out and he was so happy. He had the vest on and everything, he just loved it.”

The Streets Were Alive With the Sound of Cutlery On China

Last Friday night was a bit of a wash, because it rained just before the 6 p.m. start of the first pedestrian of the summer mall on Mississaga Street. The only casualty appeared to be the galleries in the Arts District. They weren’t out when I arrived downtown. But the restaurants had their tables set up and mostly occupied.

Up at the other end of Mississaga, the four artists doing the canvas swap at Creative Nomad Studios were about half way through their exercise. Every 20 minutes the canvases Craig Mainprize, Douglas Porter, Pauline Tofflemire and Steph Whalen were working on were shifted over one easel and they continued to paint – working with what was already done.

Steph Whalen, Craig Mainprize, Douglas Porter, and Pauline Tofflemire

Image 1 of 5

The end result was interesting, and they each had a laugh over what resulted from the ideas they started with. The next affair Creative Nomad is having happens July 16 with Mandala Tile Painting. This is a workshop and participants will learn how to paint with acrylic on a wood tile. Go to the event page for details how to register and to see what else Creative Nomad has planned for Friday nights.   There are other workshops happening at other times to check out as well.

Hog 'N Penny

Image 1 of 6

Meanwhile, Cloud Gallery, which is in Creative Nomad, is having a blast. Mark Fletcher has a new total of how many paintings he’s sold every time I speak with him. It’s a lot. Right now, every time there is an event happening with Creative Nomad on the street, Mark is donating $100 to Couchiching Jubilee House from any sales he makes that night.

Cloud Gallery is also opening a new show Friday night. The Muskoka Summer Show features works by Craig Mainprize, Brigitte Granton, Julia Veenstra, Lisa Hickey, Lori Burke, Sarah Carlson, Shane Norrie and Victoria Pearce.

Expect the Arts District galleries to be out on the street Friday. Raune-lea Marshall is the featured artist at Hibernation Arts and Renee van der Putten is at Peter Street Fine Arts.

Youth Centre Concert
Irish Mythen at Roots North 2018

Last Friday Kevin Gangloff announced the headliner for the Roots North Revisited Youth Centre fundraising concert September 25 and already its sold out. This saved a bunch of typing because I had all kinds of good things to say about Irish Mythen, how she is a fantastic entertainer, and you’ll feel as drained as she looks at the end of the show, but I don’t have to now.

Except, you should still go to the webpage and register to be on the wait list. Why? because the current pandemic restrictions don’t allow them to sell more than 100 tickets for the outdoor ODAS Park event, but I’ll bet there will be another block of tickets go on sale, so long as we keep the looney contrarians at bay.

Master Class

The Mariposa Folk Festival has an online event happening July 14 at 7 p.m. It’s called the Mariposa Incubator Series for Emerging Artists, so it’s a learning exercise and I can assure you listening to Lance Anderson talk about the do’s and don’t’s of being on stage will be enlightening.

You spend all the time learning an instrument, learning songs, and not learning to be a professional musician. There are sometimes reasons why great musician’s careers seem to go nowhere, and sometimes it’s not their playing. Lance has a list of 10 things passed down to him he’s going to pass on to you. These are the things that get you hired for gigs, get you to asked back to play, and get you other gigs. So if you are a young performer don’t miss this free event. It will be well worth your time.

Mostly Online Distracters

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. The shoot is planned to take 2 weeks and  the production needs local people for crew (set dressers, props, wardrobe, hair and make-up, and general production assistants). Forward a resume to Your experience doesn’t have to be extensive. There is a budget so you will get paid.

Some of Orillia Fine Arts Association’s artists have organized a walking tour for July 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. Six gallery spaces are involved and two of them are coffee shops where you can get 20% off fuel with a coupon you get at one of the other galleries. You can do the tour in either direction.

Marci Csumrik’s Orillia Youth Centre  dental care fundraiser is still on. 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 is still closed, 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.

Some Rama musicians made a video called Rama Players Presents: Acoustic Music of the 70’s. The players are James Simcoe, Leanne McRae-Douglas, Ronnie Douglas, Rick Benson and Scotty Snache and it was recorded for First Nation’s Day. They play songs by CSN&Y, Gregg Allman, The Eagles, Peter Frampton, Supertramp, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young and the Beatles which were favourites in the Rama community back in the day. You can play it from the website, or download it in HD or SD here.

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 .

Make art for 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.

Visit Creative Nomad Studios Facebook page to watch 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.

Nate Robertson has some new music to listen to. A drummer, he also can play other instruments and his latest work is more of an exploration of sound. You can listen to the music from his Synchronized Stratification EP (and buy it) on his Bandcamp page. You’ll also find his previous recordings there too.

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) Main: Paul Baxter and his ‘working copy‘ of his Hippy Van.

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism