By John Swartz
Well, the long range weather forecast I made comment about last week didn’t exactly hold up as predicted, but I feel confident I could run out to Casino Rama right now and plunk all my money and yours on it’s going to be a Starry Night Saturday evening. We’ll be rich, I tell ya.
For the first time since 2019 Orillia’s Starry Night is back. There are 15 venues participating and several of those will have the work of several artists on display.
Ian Chaplin will be on Peter Street playing music. The Phoenix Jazz Quartet (Rusty Strathdee, Randy Hoover, Ian Thurston and Bruce Rumble) will be playing in the courtyard between OMAH and Tiffin’s Creative Centre.
Tiffin’s has some art, C. A. Henry’s stuff, you don’t get to see often. They’ll also have art by Dave Beckett, J.D. Laverty, Michael Scott and Linda Plourde and Marlene Bulas.
The Shadowbox has about a dozen artists represented, as does Hibernation Art, and Three Crows Speak Studio and Peter Street Fine Arts. I bumped into Will McGarvey last week and he told me he’s been working on a bunch of new paintings (and hopes he’ll have them done by Saturday night), so make sure to go upstairs above Shadwobox.
Charles Pachter and Keith Lem are opening up their studio gallery
on Western Avenue for the evening (which starts at 7 p.m. by the way) and both
of them have several new pieces to see.
OMAH always has lots of art, they’ve got four galleries. Don Stuart, the artist behind the second floor exhibit of jewllery inspired by Canadian women will be on hand.
One of the pieces you will get to see at Starry Night – again, is Jimi McKee and Wayne Hill’s story pole which used to stand in the foyer at the Opera House. Jimi will be there too.
Long story short, last summer someone complained about the images of the story pole, without foundation. This was ahead of a Native conference happening at the Opera House in September. The city moved too quickly in order to not offend that misguided person and ended up by way of action casting doubt on Jimi’s reputation and the structural integrity of the story pole.
“The reason they took it out is they said it’s not stable. We all know that’s BS,” said Jimi.
Jimi repaired the cracks, which are natural occurrences with story poles (and in this case not a structural problem) the afternoon it was carted away from the Opera House. That’s how insignificant and easy to repair they were.
One of the complaint issues was the figure of a clown. The pole tells a story of Orillia from Chief Yellowhead through to today, culminating at the top with the image of a clown. The clown represented what happens at the Opera House.
“The upside down clown is being removed,” Jimi said from his new to him kitchen. He recently sold his Orchard Point home and now lives in the north end of Orillia.
Has been removed is more like it. In its place will be a carving his totem and story pole making partner, Wayne Hill, made of Gordon Lightfoot.
The idea of what to do to replace the clown came to Jimi last May. Jimi took a photo of a paddle he painted years ago to Gordon Lightfoot’s visitation at St. Paul’s Centre. He was able to give a photo of the paddle to Kim Lightfoot. Jimi made the paddle on a rush basis for John Brunton of Insight Productions to give to Gordon Lightfoot as an award.
“If you spin it over, I put on another piece, a painting of Gord going up to the stars,” Jimi said. Jimi had the idea Kim might not know of the paddle’s existence since Gord has so many awards.
“It’s hanging on my living room wall. I didn’t know anything about it,” Jimi said Kim told him. She was happy to know the story of the paddle.
Wayne Hill did the initial carving and Jimi did some additional carving and painted the segment representing Gord which will replace the clown.
There is one more issue to be resolved. The original pole was capped with an angel, a Native girl holding the planet in her outstretched arms.
“The angel can go back on top of Gord Lightfoot and I think it should. It’s exactly what Natives want right now. They want to have some appreciation for what’s going on in the world and that they are important.”
The clown and the original angel have been removed from the pole and Jimi remounted them as one piece.
“I’ve got people clamoring (for it), it might go somewhere else.”
“If you want to leave it with Gord Lightfoot, everything on the pole will relate to the town of Orillia; the angel doesn’t relate to the town. It relates to Natives.
At Starry Night you can see on the street in front of OMAH. Jimi is inviting all of council to go to Starry Night and see it. He’d like the pole to go back to the Opera house where it was designed to be.
“You’ve got to make a decision on this. If you don’t want it, that’s fine. Not fine, but I can’t keep moving this around.”
Jimi has inclusion body myositis, his muscles are disintegrating and he’s at the point using his hands is becoming more difficult. He also had cancer surgery earlier this year. He is holding out hope his art made of appreciation for the history of Orillia will be restored to its home.
“If I die tomorrow, I’d like it to go back to the Opera House. That’s why we carved it.”
This annual extravaganza of institutions opening their doors for behind the scenes peeks is this weekend. It’s usually in September. OMAH is a participating venue and they have a new exhibit in the jail. See Donald, Rudy and, wait… different exhibit. Oh well, so much for that excitement. The exhibit includes a display of artefacts loaned and donated by former members of the Orillia Police Service and their families. You can tour the building on the hour, and the jail exhibit on the half hour between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The only other Doors Open venue near town is the at the Robert Bowles Nature Centre, 1296 Concession Road 10 in Ramara. You can pop out there between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Arts Orillia is changing over their programming season and it starts with a fundraiser at Creative Nomad Studios September 21. They have Bonnie Black and Laura Kelly performing. You can get tickets online.
They are also the organizers of the Orillia Jazz Festival. They have three concerts at the Opera House. The Friday night festival gig is with Holly Cole. Lance Anderson has the Saturday night gig with the World Jazz Asylum. It’s also a CD release event and the band includes John Johnson, Quammie Williams, William Sperendei and Simon Wallis – along with dancers from Toronto Metropolitan University’s dance department. the Sunday afternoon concert is with Brassworks. You can get tickets online.
- The Opera House has Norm Foster’s Half Way There running to Sept 1. The review is in. It’s a good little play, a slice of life and it’s tribulations story you can get a chuckle from. You can get tickets online. Duck Soup Productions has Matilda running every Tuesday. It’s for kids and you can get tickets here.
- Labour Day Weekend has the Pirate Party happening at the Port of Orillia. The quickly becoming popular event of the weekend is the Walk the Plank, which happens Saturday Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. The Rotary Club is organizing it as a fundraiser for the next round of upgrades at the Aqua Theatre. Right now they need people to walk the walk, or swim the swim, depending on your point of view. Details how to register and get donations to your cause are online. Last year $15,000 was raised for Aqua Theatre renos.
- The job posting to become the next Mariposa Folk Festival artistic director is out. Deadline to apply is Sept. 11. See the details online.
- The Orillia and District Arts Council and the City of Orillia have been presenting events in neighbourhood parks this summer. The last one has Jakob Pearce playing music while the kids make art at Lankinwood Park Aug. 30. It’s free.
- The annual Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour is happening sooner than you think. Can you believe it? It’s the 40th annual tour. You can find a map and artist details online.
- This summer’s Coulson Concerts series held in the old Coulson Church continue with a couple new dates added. Aug. 27 is when Allison Lupton along with fiddle masters Shane Cook and Kyle Waymouth will perform. Sept. 24 Paul Mills and Anne Walker (whose family owns the church) will play. You can get tickets online.
- The deadline for this year’s Orillia Regional Arts and Heritage Awards nominations is October 20 and you can find the form online. The awards night is November 22, at Creative Nomad Studios starting at 6 p.m.
- The Orillia Museum of Art and History has a walking tour Wednesdays at 7 p.m. called Gangs, Guns and Grog (more next week) and it ends at Couchiching Craft Brewing for a beer, register online; Ted Fullerton’s exhibit The Serpent’s Egg is up until Oct. 7; three other exhibits are up until September – Steeped In History has artifacts for OMAH’s collection which relate to tea and teatime, Homage is jewellery made by Donald Stuart and an exhibit of Elizabeth Wynn Wood’s drawings, sketches and sculptures is in the Carmichael gallery; the monthly History Speaker’s series starts Sept. 20 with Chris Newton talking about 50 years of Mariposa Art Theatre. It’s on Zoom and you can sign up online… Hibernation Arts has guest artist Nicole Rulff’s work on display for the month of August… St. Paul’s Centre’s Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery can be seen on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon.
- Glen Robertson has a few new tunes to check out on his Youtube page. He’s one of those musicians doing great things I was referring to above.
- Aaron Mangoff is out in Vancouver and he’s got some new tunes to listen to. They’ll be part of an album with his new band, Stale. Listen to and/or buy them online
- Mariposa’s third outdoor autumn concert features Aysanabee, Aleksi Campagne, Angelique and My Son The Hurricane. It’s October 14 at ODAS Park and you can get tickets online.
- Lance Anderson is recreating the 60 in 60 concert he did at last year’s Mariposa Folk Festival on November 18 at the Opera House. It’s been expanded to a 90 minute show and Matt Weidinger, Quisha Wint, Selena Evangeline Mike Daley (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Wayne Deadder (guitar and vocals) Russ Boswell (bass) Bucky Berger (drums) will be performing with Lance. You can get those tickets online.
- The Orillia Youth Centre has a few fundraising concerts happening. The Sadies, the Ronnie Douglas Blues Band and Jerry Leger will be doing the Roots North annual fall concert Sept. 23. Roger Harvey -with Tim Kehoe playing pedal steel – (and Terry Savage and the Big Bad Jug Band have just been added to the lineup) is returning to Orillia for a gig at St. Paul’s Centre September 29 and in Collingwood Sept. 30. Get those tickets here.
- St. Paul’s Centre has a slate of concerts happening. Reay is opening for The Lowest of the Low Sept. 21; Tommy Youngsteen will be back in town, this time to do Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album on October 13; Matthew Good is in October 19 and Sloan’s Chris Murphy is in Nov. 16. You can find tickets for all those online (Youngsteen tickets here) Tickets for The Orillia Big Band at St. Paul’s September 30 will go on sale soon.
- There is an opportunity for people to join the Jorgen Ballet Company for a Nov. 25 performance at the Opera House. It’s for people ages 8 to 17 and you can find all the audition details online. The Opera House has several tribute acts in after the summer theater season is over – and Dwayne Gretzky. They also have the Comic Strippers and Second City doing shows in October. You can get tickets for any of that online.
- Quayle’s Brewery has My Missing Piece playing Aug. 26 and Genevieve Cyr Aug. 27; Alex Barber is in Sept.1; Rebekkah Hawker is in the afternoon Sept. 2 and Sam Johnston in the evening; Chris Staig plays Sept. 3 … Couchiching Craft Brewing has Will Davis and Chris Robinson playing Jazz in the afternoon Aug. 27; Play Pirate Bingo Aug. 30; the Griddle Pickers have a birthday bash for Sean Patrick Sept. 1 with guest Terry Savage (tickets); Jakob Pearce is in Sept. 2… Jakob is also playing at Kensingtons Auf. 26 and at Picnic Aug. 27… The Old Dance Hall Players imrov comedy is doing Angry Yoga at Cards and Coasters Sept. 18; get tickets online.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied)
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