This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

I’ve been known to say go big or go home when it comes to paintings and Cloud Gallery certainly has a lot of big paintings hanging around. Saturday they will open a show called My Happy Place.

Cloud Gallery has almost exclusively landscapes to show and most artists paint a variety of scenes. But if you look at the body of work of most of them there tends to be one place each paints over and over again.

27 of the gallery’s artists created 100 new pieces for this show. Many of the artists will be in attendance. The show is from 2 to 5 p.m. at Cloud, which is located in Creative Nomad Studios.

Cloud’s Meet The Artist series of artists in residence shows continue in June with Jennifer Woodburn June 1, Kerry Walford June 8, Maria Iva June 15 and Miriam Slan June 22.

Dance, Dance, Dance

May 25 the Back to the 90s Video Dance Party happens at 8 p.m. at ODAS Park. This is the third time Derick Lehmann has put this event on.

This first two times attendance was way beyond what he expected based on advance ticket sales. Both times a couple hundred showed up at the door. It looks like ticket sales are ahead of previous events, so showing up at the door might not be a good option over getting a ticket now.

Each of those times he raised more money then he hoped (these events are fundraisers). The first one raised $11,000 for the Sharing Place. The last one was intended to create a fund to buy toys for Christmas gifts for kids. He had more than 700 on hand and raised $14,000 for the shopping spree.

I have spoken to Derick and he’s really surprised at how well this event has turned out. Derick also does the annual Ugly Sweater Bowling Party fundraiser for the food bank, which in its 9-year run has raised $28,000. In March Derick was named the 2023 Citizen of the Year. He joined the organizing committee for Canada Day this year and already I can tell by the amount of publicity notices he puts out he’s having an effect. Committee members have also said he’s been like a breath of fresh air.

All this is to say, he puts in the effort to make sure people who go to his fundraisers have a great time and come back for more. So, you should go online and get tickets for tonight’s dance party.

Leacock Medal

The Leacock Associates announced the short list for the 2024 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour earlier this week. The three finalist authors are:

Ali Bryan is shortlisted for her 5th book, Coq. It is a follow up to her prior award winning novel, Roost. Roost, won the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and was the official selection of One Book Nova Scotia. Her second novel, The Figgs, was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in 2019. Ali lives in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies on Treaty 7 territory, and balances her writing with a career as a fitness instructor. 

Patrick deWitt is nominated for The Librarianist and is the author of the novels French Exit (an international bestseller and a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), The Sisters Brothers (winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in 2012,  the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize), and the critically acclaimed Undermajordomo Minor and Ablutions. Born in British Columbia, he grew up in Southern California and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

Deborah Willis’s first novel, Girlfriend on Mars, is her rookie effort to the shortlist for the medal. It is also longlisted for the Giller Prize and the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. Her second short story collection, The Dark and Other Love Stories, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her first short story collection, Vanishing and Other Stories, was named one of The Globe and Mail’s Best Books of 2009, and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for fiction. She has worked as a bookseller at Munro’s Books in Victoria, BC, as a technical writer, and as a writer-in-residence at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, MacEwan University, and the University of Calgary. Deborah currently works as an editor at Freehand Books and lives in Calgary with her partner and daughter.

The award weekend starts June 21 with the Meet the Authors night, to be held this year at Hawk Ridge Golf Club. Two-time Leacock Medal winner (and shortlister three additional times) Terry Fallis is the emcee for the evening. The winner of the Student Writing Competition, Sylvie Potje of University of Waterloo, and runners-up Iris Matthews of Bear Creek Secondary School, Barrie and Marcus DiCerbo of Carleton University, Ottawa will also be on hand to read their stories.

On June 22 the medal dinner will also be at Hawk Ridge, with the host of the CBC’s The Debaters, Steve Patterson, emceeing. Following the mostly overlooked election last year, former Leacock Medal winner Trevor Cole emerged victorious from a field of one and will therefore deliver the annual address as the Mayor of Mariposa.

You can get tickets for either event online.

Gather ‘Round, I Have A Story To Tell

Arts Orillia has announced the line up for the annual Gathering: Festival of First Nations Stories happening May 31 and June 1 at the Rama Community Hall.

The list of authors includes, Alicia Elliott, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Brandon Reid, Chief Lady Bird, Christa Big Canoe, Drew Hayden Taylor, Julie Williams, Keesic Douglas, and Sherry Lawson. All are award winning authors and artists, or served as community leaders. They will all be speaking and reading from their books on June 1.

Music producer Les Boulanger, who also goes by DJ Boogey the Beat, has contributed to many recordings and in live performance creates music rather than just spin CDs. He is featured at the event opening May 31 at 7 p.m.

It’s free to attend either day, but you should RSVP you are planning to attend.

Sing, Sing, Sing

The Orillia Vocal Ensemble concert mid-week at St. Paul’s Centre was pretty good. The choir seemed to have more members than last time I saw them, filling three banks of stage risers.

They also had some help from Carol Hardy on flute, Alex Andrews on violin and viola and Marta Solek on cello, in addition to the OVE’s accompanist Katie Pergau. They also had Rhonda Lauer step out from the choir to play the bodhran in the first half enduing tune, Mairi’s Wedding, which is an old Scottish folk song.

The show opened with an Ojibway tune, Ambe, and then the choir went through an uninterrupted quartet of songs which included Stan Rogers’s Make and Break Harbour and Bruce Cockburns’s All The Diamonds.

The second set included a trio of songs arranged by Mark Sirett and two of Gord’s songs, Rainy Day People and The Canadian Railroad Trilogy. Those two were also accompanied by Shawn Clarke on guitar. Shawn was the guest performer and sang a couple tunes in the first half, titles of which were not listed in the program.

The concert, as always with the OVE, was a fundraiser. This time it was for the Quota Club of Barrie/Orillia and $4,528 was raised. The club’s major projects are related to supporting services to the deaf community.

The Shorts

  • The Old Dance Hall Players have an improv comedy show happening at Couchiching Craft Brewing May 25 at 8 p.m. If you haven’t seen them yet, why? As is the case with these kinds of things, the show title (Holy Duck) usually has nothing to do with the content since they make it up as they go along.  Get tickets online.
  • The Orillia Community Children’s Choir has a concert May 25 at 2 p.m. at St. Paul’s Centre. Joining them are some members of the Orillia Vocal Ensemble. Tickets are $10 at the door.
  • Anne Walker has Jowi Taylor with Six String Nation (featuring the guitar made from parts donated by famous Canadians) in for the next of the summer concerts at the Coulson Church on May 26. Joining him are John Prince, Patty McLaughlin and Anne Walker. The rest of the schedule is: June 23 Tannis Slimmon and Lewis Melville; July 28 Wendell Ferguson; Aug. 25 Anne Walker; and Sept. 29 Blair Packham. You can get tickets online.

  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is celebrating their 173rd anniversary May 31 and June 1 with a number of events including and art exhibit of works by John R. Newton.
  • Mariposa Arts Theater has their 2nd annual Queer Cabaret happening June 21 and 22 at their rehearsal hall on Brammer Drive. Tickets are not available yet, but will be online here.
  • The Opera House has the Laugh For Lake Simcoe fundraiser with Ron Josol, Fiona O’Brien, and Jeff McEnery June 22. Get tickets  online.

  • Canada Day is returning to Couchiching Beach Park and the organizing committee has some room on it, and they are looking for sponsors and people to volunteer the day of. You can find out more online.

OMAH’s International Women’s Day Art Show
  • The Orillia Museum of Art and History has the 27th annual International Women’s Day Art Show in the main gallery; you can also see an exhibit of work from an art program for kids called Regent Park Public School Grade 6/7 Garden Design Program; OMAH also hs Backra Bluid an exhibit of works by photographer Stacey Tyrell. OMAH is looking for a couple board members. You can apply online if you are 18-years-old, live in Simcoe County, have references and are a member of OMAH, but not an employee or related to one. May 10 they have a Mother’s Day Wine and Paint night lead by Peter Fyfe; the June  19 History Speaker’s Night is with Anna Marino of the Leacock Museum speaking about A Leacock Love Story; it’s online and you can register here… St. Paul’s Centre has the Call to Action 83 Art Project in the Ogimaa Miskwaaki Gallery. Peter Street Fine Arts has a collection of work by Gina McHugh featured in May. ODAC artists have a new show up in the Green Room at the Opera House called Spring Awakening.
  • Couchiching Craft Brewing has the Half-O-Ween Drag Show May 31; June 1 Dav Dickenson is in and they have a beer garden during the day… Quayle’s Brewery has Stephan Bernard playing May 25; Fraser Wayne May 26; Dave Beal May 30; Kat Chabot May 31; Bella Francis June 1 and Patrick Hunter June 2… The Hog ‘N Penny has a drop in Open Mic Sunday afternoons with Sean Patrick, Michael Martyn John MacDonald, Jessica Martin and whoever else shows up; the Kempencelts are in May 25…  Lake Country Grill has Jaclyn Kenyon playing May 29… Picnic has Meredith Warboys in May 26… Ronnie Douglas is at Alleycats Music May 26 at 1 p.m. … Fionn MacCool’s has an open Mic hosted by Jamie Drake Wednesday evenings; Jakob Pearce plays May 25…

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Images Supplied) Main: Some of the artists in Cloud Gallery’s My Happy Place show.

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