This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The Opera house has a new play opening Friday. It’s not new as in a production of something you could say, “Oh, I’ve heard of that,” or, “Oh, they are doing that one.”  This play called Mno Bimaadiziwin is brand new.

It’s written by Ziigwen Mixemong of the Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island and is the first play in the county focusing on stories of local Native community members. The title translates to A Good Life and the story is about people entering a sweat lodge. From what I know about sweat lodges, the real story is about what happens in them, and to you afterward.

It’s s produced by Barrie’s Theatre By The Bay, a professional company which exists to create new work about ourselves.

The director, Herbie Barnes, was just named creative director of the Young People’s Theatre, Canada’s largest youth theatre company. As an actor he was in Dance Me Outside and other movies, plus he had appearances in many TV series, including The Rez and Murdoch Mysteries. On stage he played Bilbo Baggins in the Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s production of The Hobbit, and directed The Hobbit, and The Rememberer for the same company, Sexy Laundry and Tales Of An Urban Indian in New York and Los Angeles.

You can get tickets online and it runs to October 3.

Imagine That

It seems like time is flying. Civic Holiday, Labour Day, election – OK, that one dragged a bit – and we’re about to flip pages on the calendar, which means Thanksgiving is just ahead.

It’s seems odd to type – and that means the Images Studio Tour. This is the first major annual arts event since, well, you know. Today I noticed the first red leaf on a tree in my backyard and had a sense of dread, winter is coming. I know it’s only just turned fall, but fall is the gateway to hell in my books, except for the fact it’s hard to say any other time of year is so picturesque around here.

Art by Ralph Siferd

Sure Algonquin Park maybe has top billing, but we aren’t in Algonquin Park. Many of the galleries on the tour are in Oro-Medonte and travelling the Lines and Concessions through the rolling hills is amazing to see. If you have a camera, don’t leave it at home. You’ll never forgive yourself if you do and after visiting a gallery or two, you’ll be inspired by the scenery to try and let your trapped artist out.

There are 30 artists participating this time, which is about 10 shy of normal, so that’s good. You’d expect some are not ready to engage with the public yet. There are 20 galleries to visit and only 6 of them have more than one artist showing their work, so that’s a bit different because usually there are a few more galleries/studios which would have at least two artists displaying.

Many of the artists are people you know of and have been part of the tour before. There are only a couple names I’m not familiar with. You can download a map here.

Lance, Doing It Again

In the beginning, there was Sly and the Family Stone, there was James Brown too, but for this purpose the former is the focus.

SFS is a band most of us don’t’ think of too much, until one of their tunes reaches our ears. Stuff like Dance To The Music, Everybody Is A Star, Everyday People, Family Affair, Hot Fun in the Summertime and Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin gets people moving and grooving. There’s more tunes you know and Lance Anderson has put together another band and show like many of the others he has paying tribute to the musicians and songs which shaped much of the music we know today.

This show is called Everyday People and has a band made up of different people than he’s played with before – except for Shamakah Ali on drums and Quisha Wint, I’m sure she’ll be part of many projects Lance does because how could you not? They recorded their recording session in concert style. It’s presented under the Hugh’s Room Live banner and you can get tickets to watch it online October 9 , It will stream for 48 hours.

We’re not done with Lance. He’s doing his Oscar Peterson show at the Opera House October 17 as part of the Orillia Jazz Festival (I forgot how to type Orillia Jazz Festival and had to fix it). If you haven’t seen this show, let me tell you how much better your life will be after you see it. About that much better. Seriously, this show is fantastic. Lance plays the music as Oscar did it and tells stories about Oscar from his personal experience. It’s truly one of those things you won’t forget. Get your tickets online.

And you can tickets for Rhythm of Our World at that link too. This is another Jazz Fest program. Brassworks has had a concert every year they stickhandle to which they invite local musicians from high school music programs to participate. This time around they also have Jazzamatazz along to perform. There’s a band name I haven’t used in a while (not counting last week). Those of you of a certain age will remember Jazzamatazz, which is a vocal ensemble that originated at Park Street Collegiate.

Arts Awards

Have you taken time to nominate someone or some group for an Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Award? The Orillia and District Arts and the Orillia Museum of Art and History had one of those chocolate/peanut butter incidents a few years ago and decide to combine their respective awards and it’s time to nominate. You can find out how to nominate a person or group online.

There are 5 categories:

  • Education in Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Emerging Artist
  • Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication
  • Event in Arts, Culture and Heritage
  • Qennefer Browne Achievement Award

You can look at the last couple of weeks columns for some ideas and reminders of who you can nominate. This week I want to talk about one specific category, the Qennefer Browne Achievement award. This is for contributions beyond and can be for a lifetime of achievement.

I previously suggested Leslie Fournier would make a good nominee. She had the idea to create Streets Alive, the umbrella for each year’s sculpture events (guitars, letters, doors, Hippy Vans, etc.) and dragged it along for ten years. She’s also had her hand in a few other art projects, particularly the last few Christmas’s.

I’d thought of a couple others who I think should be nominated. One is Steve Orr. You know the guy with the fancy duds at Dapper Depot. If you didn’t know, he supports a ton of stuff that goes on in Orillia’s arts community. Not in the way I do with words, well, I guess he does use words, usually on the line headed Pay to the Order Of, and then he uses numbers. He has sponsored many concerts over the years, usually several each year and now focuses on the concerts/fundraisers the Orillia Youth Centre and Roots North produces.

Speaking of the youth center, Kevin Gangloff isn’t just the guy who runs the joint, he is constantly looking for and dreaming up ideas to turn into fundraisers so the kids have supplies to learn about music, art, cooking and a bunch of other things. One of those fundraisers is this weekend’s concert at ODAS Park with Irish Mythen, Skye Wallace and Roger Harvey. That one is sold out. But in keeping with the idea Kevin doesn’t stop thinking of ways to raise cash, he figured Roger Harvey is in town (Roger is from Pennsylvania), why not have a second concert? So on Monday at Creative Nomad Studios you can see Roger Harvey, Sean Patrick and Sam Johnston play some music. This one is to raise money for Green Haven Shelter for Women and Youth. Get tickets for that here.

Culture Days

Before we get into Culture Days, ODAC had their annual general meeting Thursday. Financially they’re good. During the last year the programs they ran included Streets Alive’s Hippy Vans, the awards and Culture Days, a video tribute to Moms and an art program for women to help with mental health issues. They have a new slate of directors for the next year, which includes Christine Hager, Anna Preston, Miranda McKee, Dennis Rizzo, Diane Porteous, and Christopher and Wendy Cooper-Parkinson.

When Culture Days started the culture department over at City Hall jumped in with both feet. We were one of a handful of communities that had such an event in the Canada wide strategy to showcase local arts groups to local people. The event has grown and many more places have their Culture Days, and Orillia usually is still counted in the top ten for groups participating and people attending.

It is now a month long affair, everything is free and it starts this weekend.  It’s a good thing it changed last year because I don’t think anyone would relish a ton of events happening over a couple days in a relatively small number of venues.

Ronnie Douglas

This Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Farmers’ Market, Aliyah Beckles is leading a dance class. You can let them know you want to take part by emailing or just drop in.

You can watch a video of artwork created by young people. Every Friday for the month you can visit The Meeting Place, 28 West Street North, from noon to 4 p.m. to indulge your creative side by colouring, painting, drawing and singing.

Have you ever wanted to beat something until it gives up? I’ve been asked to put something together for Culture Days and we’re all going bucket drumming October 2 – hopefully at the Farmers’ Market. I’m thinking of teaching some willing participants how to play Johnny One Note. On October 23, the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band is having a concert at St. James’ Anglican Church at 8 p.m.

Short Takes

Aaron Sheedy and Shane Morrison Shooting A Doc

Aaron Sheedy and friends have started to work on a new documentary. His D.F.F. Productions did the Underground Orillia doc. They were at Fanboy, downtown, a couple weeks ago on day one of their shoot. The premise is similar to Kyle MacDonald’s story. He’s the guy from Montreal who traded a paperclip online and through a series of 14 moves turned it into a house. In this case, Aaron’s starting with a comic book.

OMAH has Welcome Home to Orillia., which tells the stories of 11 people who now call Orillia home, but didn’t always. Also see Will McGarvey’s exhibit, Sticks and Stones. You can also check out the opening with Will and Jill Price online.

Glen Robertson has another new tune out to listen to and watch on Youtube. It’s called Breakin’ Down and you can watch his other videos here.

Sustainable Orillia is having an art show featuring work submitted for it’s two environmentally themed contests, Renewal and Trees. It will be at Hibernation Arts September 21 to 25 and then Creative Nomad Studios September 27 to October 2. Works by Lisa Rowlandson, MJ Pollak, Marlene Bulas, Molly Farquharson, Mary Ann Tully, Douglas Porter, Gayle Schofield, MJ Pollak, Dani Magder, Brenda Smallwood and Heather Campbell are featured. Sustainable Orillia is starting the third contest ($75 prize for the winner) on the theme of Housing. Make submissions here by October 31.

Murray Van Halem, has a show at Double Door Studio in Anten Mills from October 2 to 12. Murray will be on hand October 3 from noon to 4 p.m.

Creative Nomad Studio has Mike Bailey’s Catching Light photo exhibit. It will be in the main gallery, which has been housing Cloud Gallery. Cloud isn’t going away, there’s still other works to see in other parts of the building. Mike Bailey is still selling posters of the Hippy Vans. They’re available in two sizes (24×36 – $65, or 16×24 – $55) and you can order one by emailing There will likely be some program booklets still available at Jack & Maddy A Kids Store too.

This month’s guest artist at Hibernation Arts is David Kennedy.

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.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied)

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