This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

This one is all about Roots North Music Festival. But first, some expansion of what I said in the last column. It’s not a correction because I wasn’t wrong, even if it may look like I was.

In my last column I mentioned a call for submissions for an art exhibit at the Orillia Recreation Centre. The words accompanying the announcement are:

“Calling all Indigenous artists! The City of Orillia is looking for Indigenous artists to submit artwork for consideration for an upcoming Indigenous art exhibit at the Orillia Recreation Centre.”

I made comment about the announcement in light of the fiasco that happened in 2022 with a public art project which had all of the $276,000 available going to out of county artists (one Orillia-born artist was substituted late in the game when a particular piece fell through). You can see what I said here, and that has links to the pieces I wrote in 2022.

In short, the City defended itself saying they couldn’t have exclusionary criteria. There is no mention of money with the call in question, but the restriction of who can apply was what I was zeroing in on.

The very next afternoon I got email from the City announcing a call for submissions for art for the Stack Gallery (next to the check in counter at the rec center) called Inclusion. This one is restricted to artists in the Orillia area and is to represent art about being included regardless of what ‘outside’ group we’re talking about.

I thought, ‘wait a minute,’ wasn’t the one I wrote about for the Stack Gallery? So I looked at the City’s website and saw the menu item about the first call was changed from the exhibit title, Roots and Resilience: Expressions of Identity and Culture, to Orillia Recreation Centre Display Case Exhibition. Also new is reference the art is intended for one of the display cases, it also now includes a photo of the case, plus a few more points about the exhibit.

It still states it’s for Indigenous artists. I found it odd that in one case the City made the case they can’t restrict who can submit work for consideration – when there is money involved, but can if they choose to for other calls. I’m just trying to find a little consistency here.

I think the City’s purchasing policy is out to lunch when it comes to artistic ventures (this includes all arts). These aren’t paper clips with multiple suppliers of the same thing and OMAH’s Art in Public Places Committee is only playing by the City’s rules. If you read the previous columns on this subject I proposed changes which to my knowledge have yet to be made.

If, in light of recent calls for submissions, the policy has changed, a) I would have expected some kind of announcement and discussion at council, and b) this is good for the next time a chunk of money is on the line.

Applications are online and must be submitted by the end of the business day April 19. The Stack Gallery call has a May 10 deadline and online application is here.

This is not the first time things have changed after I commented about something. I guess I’ll have to start taking screen shots.

Music Now, And Tomorrow, And…

This weekend and two weekends from now are for concerts, lots of concerts. Top that off with the abundance of humour generated out of New York City, it’s good times.

So, the first May weekend there are concerts by Lighthouse, Marc Jordan and Amy Sky, the Cellar Singers doing HMS Pinafore, Classic Lightfoot Live, the Orillia Silver Band and The Orillia Concert Association’s next of their series with Ensemble Vivant. I guess we could through in a few of the ensembles from Orillia Secondary School  playing over dinner at Boston Pizza May 6. More on that later.

This weekend it’s all about the Roots North Music Festival. It’s already started, and continues Friday at noon with an open mic at Apple Annie’s. Steve Porter will be at Alleycats Music at 3 p.m., Sydney Riley will at Quayle’s at 5 p.m. and the Mitch Buebe Band will be at the Sunken Ship

At 6 p.m. focus shifts to St. Paul’s Centre where the main stage show with Hamilton’s The Red Hill Valleys and our own Bleeker will play at 7. For several years the music festival has include an arts market in the basement which starts at 6 p.m. (Saturday too).

When that gig is done the Ronnie Douglas Band will already be in motion at Couchiching Craft Brewery (8:30 p.m. start) and Kevin Foster will be at Kensington’s at 10. p.m.

Saturday is also Record Store Day in Canada and Alleycats Music will have a bunch of things going on all morning. The morning crew playing around town includes Bryan Sutton (Farmers’ Market), Luke’s Piano Keys (Apple Annie’s), Sully Burrows (Mark IV Brothers),, Jack and Dean (Apple Annie’s), and the surprise gig on Mississaga Street at 11:30 a.m. (somewhere near Peter Street). That’s just the morning activities.

The afternoon has Samantha Windover (Quayle’s), Sully Burrows (Hibernation Arts), Sean Patrick leading a jam at the Hog “n “Penny, Sam Johnston (Blossom Plants and Goods) Rebeka (Quayle’s) , and Jeff Booth and the Joy Collective (Sunken Ship) playing before the art market starts at St. Paul’s. The Orillia Youth Centre also has an open mic happening at 6 p.m.

The main stage show features, in order, Spencer Burton, Julian Taylor and Begonia. Sam Johnston will have her band along at Brewery Bay at 8 p.m. Cam Galloway is at Couchiching Craft Brewing at 8:30 p.m., Fiddling Jay Edmunds is at Picnic at 9 p.m. and Michael Constantini is at Kensington’s at 10.p.m.

Sunday The Wanted play brunch at the Common Stove. Alex Rabbitson (Alleycats), Genevieve Cry (Quayles) and Richard Benson (Picnic) all have afternoon gigs. And then the 10th version of the festival will be over.

There is no admission charge at the venues, but you’ll need a ticket for the main stage shows.

Sad News

Dave Beckett at the 2018 OMAH spring fundraising gala; he created a painting from scratch during the course of the evening

As this thing was being finalized word was received Dave Beckett has died. This is truly a loss to the arts community. Dave was one of the premier visual artists not just in Orillia, but in the country.

He work in pastels and I guarantee if you’ve seen a painting of Stephen Leacock’s boathouse, it was likely Dave’s, there are many prints of it hanging around town. Also, if you’ve ever seen a Georgian Bay landscape with a red canoe in it, it was likely Dave’s.

Dave started his corporate marketing/advertising career at the Packet and Times in 1954 and at the age of 40, left his job in Toronto with Southam Inc. in 1981 to come home to the Orillia area and take up being an artist full-time. He once told me he had to or he’d lose his mind.

Dave started painting at the age of 6, but took the job at the Packet because the school principal told him he, “Wouldn’t last in high school.”  Dave switched to pastels because he could paint in more detail than with oils and basically was self taught

Dave turned out about 20 paintings annually. He worked from his own photographs. In one case he told me he spent 7 years photographing one scene to get the image he wanted to paint.

He combined his business experience with his art to create a nice industry for himself. He soon realized most people who wanted his art couldn’t afford the price of the originals and thus became an expert at making prints and was one of the first artists to do so on the scale he did. Dave also taught his craft to others.

I spent many hours at Dave’s Marchmont home/studio, pestering him with questions about how he did his art with ‘glorified chalk,’ how he managed to paint scenes so realistically. I watched him work, and more than a few times videotaped what he was doing. I was most interested in how he painted water. To me there is no finer painter of water than Dave. And have you seen how hes does fog and mist?

Dave also participated in interviews for a 3rd documentary I was producing about Gordon Lightfoot that was underway, but ultimately never finished due to a long forgotten contract Gord had forgotten about.

There was often a drink or two involved when we met. Dave was a friend I always looked forward to seeing and I will miss him.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Dave Beckett in 2007.

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