This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

The annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition opened last week at the Orillia Museum of Art and History. The theme this year is Tradition Transformed and some of the artists really paid attention.

Several pieces examined the urban landscape at moments of peace – when humans were not present. This is something quite a few people have noticed and commented to me about how different things seemed during lockdowns when they were out and about getting fresh air.

There are prizes, which this year I’m not left wondering what the judges were thinking. That said the piece that I thought was the most original idea is just below. It’s called Blood Relatives, by Bettina Matzkuhn. Those are four mountain scenes with melting glaciers.

Blood Relatives, by Bettina Matzkuhn

The main Juror’s Prize of $1,500 was awarded to Erin Fyfe Donnelly for Act Naturally. It comes in two parts, the painting and a tiny section of a branch which is painted orange – the same orange used to mark trees selected to be chopped down. I found it interesting the image of the forest in the painting was done entirely in shades of Orange. To me it seemed the artist was making a statement, and I certainly would have asked her about it, had I remembered to go to the public opening last Saturday. It’s a good thing I got to the previous evening’s little advance look.

Act Naturally, by Erin Fyfe Donnelly

The $250 Paul Quarrington award went to Ava Roth for an interesting mixed media photo printed on aluminum called Encaustic Sewing, Silver Leaf . The $1,000 Kevin Batchellor prize for emerging artists was awarded to Tiffany Blaze for New Horizon, a really nice storm at sea scene.

OMAH also has another exhibit which opened Saturday. When you are at OMAH you really need to go upstairs to see D. Ahsén:nase Douglas’s We Are Still Here. This is one of the most fantastic exhibits of portraiture I’ve seen.

Seasonal Stuff

Yeah, I know, the season isn’t for another month, but there are things happening soon and very soon you should know about – especially if you want to get tickets for anything below.

The annual Santa Claus Parade always happens on the weekend after next, well except for last year, and in the as we know it form this year.

I had a chat with Doug Bunker, the Orillia District Chamber of Commerce’s point person for their events. A month ago he was still trying to sort out if there was going to be a parade, or whether to focus on next year.

Last year the chamber pivoted and went heavy into lights. Bunker, with some help, put up lights at St. James’ Anglican Church, Green Haven Women’s Shelter, the library/Opera House courtyard, some nursing and retirement homes and the bandstand and pavilion in Couchiching Beach Park (I know Paul Baxter and Allan Lafontaine helped with those).

“The bandstand had hundreds of photos with people taking selfies with that as the backdrop. I understand, when I asked my friends they said, ‘Yeah, we’re using it for our Christmas cards,”” Bunker said.

They are doing the same this year – with more light. Back to lights in a sec.

The parade is happening, but don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

“We’re doing a parade that’s one float long,” said Bunker. “The only part of the parade is Santa on his float. We’re driving around town on the 20th/21st of November.”

“It will come up from its resting place at Orillia Power Generation and we’ll probably do the downtown first. From there we have Rama and West Ridge.”

That prompted an image in my mind, which Bunker must have somehow seen.

‘We’ll of course take Santa off the float when we are doing any highway movement.”

It sounds like it will be a whirlwind tour. Bunker said they’ll loop around City Hall and go down Mississaga Street to the waterfront and then head off to Rama. He’s still working on logistics, but believes they’ll start around 10:30/11 a.m. and be back in the West Ridge mid-afternoon. Whether they travel through the streets on the west side he doesn’t know yet, but he does have some stops worked out.

“We’re going to be stopping at chamber members who sign up as sponsors of the parade,” Bunker said. The parade will happen both days.

“We always pick two days and we’ll do it the two days if it’s nice. If we have weather problems it might be just one day.”

The chamber has another event planned. They call it Light Up Orillia, and this is the second year they are doing it. The idea was obviously a response to the stay at home orders of last year.

“We’re really trying to push the 20th and 21st as the kick-off weekend for that. People (can) go to to register if they are going to decorate, and they can go there if they want to see where the decorations are taking place and I’ll be constantly updating with a map so you can drive out to these things,” Bunker said. “We’re trying to get more of the commercial guys to do it.”

He said it proved to be very successful in ways they didn’t intend.

“The biggest thing that came back was, “I got to meet my neighbours; we’re all out decorating, we’re all talking; all the people driving by were happy and nice; my street was busy every night.” It became a real socially nice thing.”

There are prizes, gift cards. Bunker mentioned some area businesses gave the chamber a lot of gift cards to offer as prizes.

“The gift cards are only good at local businesses, a shop local thing. The big winner (last year) had a $1,000 gift card and that was for Home Depot in Orillia,” he said.

Before we move on to other things, there’s one more tidbit about the chamber’s light stringing escapades. Bunker got a hold of some lights which projected changing images and put them inside the greenhouse at Couchiching Beach Park because the roof is transparent. You may have noticed them last year.

“I got more (lights) this year and I’m going to put them in the green house.  One guy drove by after I told him to take a look (last year) and he said, “It looks like the elves are having a disco in there,””


Of course concerts are part of the season and both the Orillia Silver Band and the Orillia Concert Band are planning theirs.

Orillia Concert Band

The OCB is first up with the return of the Christmas Prelude. This one has been around since well before I started scribbling about arts. A couple years ago the OCB decided they’d change the name of the concert, but have decided to go back to what we’ve always called it. And it makes sense. It was the first of the season, though in the last few years a few others have jumped the line.

Also in recent years, the OCB has split the show, having an afternoon concert of shorter duration for kids, and one in the evening with the serious music on the dance card. So get your tickets online for the 3:30 or 7:30 p.m. December 4 concerts at St. Paul’s Centre.

The Orillia Silver Band is holding their concert in the Opera House. It’s December 12 and as soon as I get a hold of the program I’ll be able to tell you what they are playing.

Also at the Opera House; Ballet Jurgen returns with their Nutcracker production November 27; a review called the Music Of Broadway is in November 21; The Barra MacNeils annual Christmas tour stops in Orillia December 3; Barrie’s Theatre By The Bay is bringing a production called Revival to the Opera House December 18; Not really a Christmas thing, the Music of the Night is – oh do I have to spell it out – happens December 11.

Also not a Christmas show, but if you forgot how to laugh you’ll definitely want to see this show. The Old Dance Hall Players are doing A Shot in the Arm November 19. The night of improv is a gamble because the players work with the ideas the audience throws out, so if you go, don’t shout out something lame. If even they don’t hit on every scene, they do on many. You can get tickets for this and all the other shows mentioned above at the link for the Orillia Concert Band gig.

MAT’s Play

The Mariposa Arts Theatre company has Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore on until Sunday at the Opera House. The script is based on a book of the same name by Ilene Beckerman. It’s all about what the characters wore at key moments of their lives – their first dress, the prom dress, first date, weddings, etc. It’s humourous in the sense you aren’t going to hear anything new or inventive, but the delivery makes the difference and you will laugh out loud a few times.

It’s kind of like a less controversial Vagina Monologues. This is going to be a great date night out. Once again, for some people, It’s going to be a great date night out.

Visit the Orillia Opera House online box office for tickets.

Regional Arts and Heritage Awards

The 2021 Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards are November 24 at St. Paul’s Centre – it’s going live and it’s going to be live streamed too. The doors open at 6 and the awards start at 7 p.m. It’s not formal, but dress up.

The nominee’s are:

Education in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award  – Alex Andrews, Heartworks Children’s Studio, the Orillia Music Centre, and Ron and Ann Harrison. 

Emerging Artist Award – Brazzledazzle, Norman Catchpole, and Sam Johnston (SAMMY).

Heritage: Restoration, Renovation and Publication AwardFred Blair and Michael Hill.

Event in the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award – Mariposa Arts Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night; OMAH History Committee’s History Speakers Series; and Streets Alive Productions’ Hippie Van Sculptures.

Qennefer Browne Achievement Award – Lance Anderson, Blair Bailey, Dick Johnston, and Ron Schell.

Short Takes

Congratulations to Lance Anderson. He’s been nominated for Piano/Keyboard Player of the Year for the 2021 Maple Blues Awards. This is the – oh, I forget how many times, maybe ten, Lance has been nominated. I do know one thing, the award he has needs company on the mantel. Good Luck. You can vote for some of the categories (but not the player awards). In addition our friend Roly Platt is nominated for harp player, and Shakura S’Aida is nominated for a lifetime achievement award; if she wins by 100 votes and they all came from Orillia, that would be something.

November 20 Mariposa-in-Concert returns with Betty and the Bobs. No Betty, no Bobs, just Wendell Ferguson, Rich Greenspoon, David Matheson, Soozi Schlanger, Suzie Vinnick, Katherine Wheatley and David Woodhead. They played a Mariposa off-season concert just a few years ago and it was the best night. The show is at St. Paul’s Centre and you can get tickets online.

The Orillia Scottish Festival has a fundraising dinner happening November 30 at Creative Nomad Studios. It’s a three course meal catered by Krew Catering Company. The best part, aside from the dinner, which looks good on paper by the way, is Terry Fallis will be on hand to read from his new book, Operation Angus (which I might point out has not yet won a Leacock Medal) You can get tickets online.

Creative Nomad Studios is having a Holiday Market November 27 and 28. Now is the time to apply to be a vendor. There are other Christmas events lined up.  The 10th annual ODAS Park Orillia Holiday Craft Show is November 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit their website for vendor info. The Westmount United Church is doing their Christmas sale online from November 12 to November 15. You can check out some of the items for sale now, but you have to wait until the 12th to buy. Quayle’s Brewery (12th Line of Oro-Medonte just off Mt. St. Louis Road) is having a Christmas Market November 27 and 28, and December 4 and 5; now is the time for vendors to apply.

The Orillia Concert Association has a 2021/22 season. The next concert is with Peter Stoll and Adam Zukiewicz on November 28. They go live February 20 with violinist Maria Millar and Shawn Wyckoff on flute performing as Sonic Escape; followed by the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry band March 27 and the Toronto All-Star Big Band May 1. You can get the very reasonably priced season tickets ($70) at the Opera House box office.

The 7th annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party happens at Orillia Bowl December 17. The beneficiary this year is the Sharing Place Food Bank. Register here.

Zach Lucky is doing two shows January 14 and 15 at Picnic Snackbar Get tickets here.

Check out the Somniatis Wearable Art Show video and then head over to their fundraising page. The Somniatis folks want to keep the momentum going on the fundraising side of the event. Last time around when it was live they raised over $12,000 and they hope the community will try to at least match that amount this year to support Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital’s mental health programs.

At the galleries… Gordon Harrison has a solo show at Cloud Gallery  (with the opening reception Nov. 12, tickets) until November 21; Cloud also has solos shows and receptions booked for Julia Veenstra and Kyle Sorenson following Gordon’s… Norman Robert Catchpole’s art is at Peter Street Fine Arts for the month; the gallery is also having their 6×6 show again and artists can join the fun, details… Hibernation Arts has their Carmichael Too exhibit… OMAH’s annual Carmichael Lecture is online this year and it’s with Anna Hudson of York University on November 17 and the topic is The Legacy of the Group of Seven and you can register here.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: D. Ahsén:nase Douglas’s We Are Still Here at OMAH.

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