There’s a Plethora of Painters & Potters in Hastings County
Hastings County is a mecca for painters and potters, especially in the north. Why is this? And, a better question, why is this not well-known?
Henri Mattisse said, “Creativity takes courage.” If that’s the case, Hastings County is brimming with courage.
When I started researching local artists and artisans in Hastings County, I had no idea that I would discover that so many visual artists live and work here. (And the number of artisans – people who work with wood, glass, fibre, metal, and photography – is equally lengthy.) My list kept growing, as did the responses to emails. So, I decided to focus exclusively on painters and potters because art inspires us – enobles us – which we all really need right now – and because Hastings County inspires so many and so much.
Perhaps this plethora of artists has to do with landscape – wild vistas of coniferous trees, Canadian Shield rock faces, and pristine lakes appeal to the artist and outdoor enthusiast in all of us. Perhaps, it’s also because artists have discovered that here, they can work without distraction, in a place that offers wildly authentic inspiration.
How to showcase so many talented and diverse artists? Many have their own studios, and many have works on display in local galleries. But with COVID, both the annual fall Tweed & Area Studio Tour and Bancroft & Area Studio Tour were cancelled. Craft shows and workshops were cancelled. Although some of the artists I spoke with sell their work on-line, many say that COVID has had both positive and negative effects. Just not on their creativity!
In the end, I decided to let their art do the talking.
REGINA ALICE ALEXANDER
Regina Alice is not only the first alphabetically, but she’s also the youngest artist featured here. She says that “like her grandmother who still paints, she plans to paint until she drops.” She lives in Madoc and her work can be found at Quinn’s of Tweed.
This painting, titled “Almost Fall” is by Barbara Allport, who lives near Coe Hill. Allport says that she is “drawn to the shrinking wetlands of the area.” Her work is also featured at the galleries in Bancroft.
Ken Balmer is Chair of A Place for the Arts in Bancroft and his work can be found in other local galleries, as well. He’s been painting for 45 years; his work is “inspired by his search for and appreciation of spirituality in all its forms.”
Barbara Bering hails from Tweed and enjoys ‘exploring new ideas on canvas and is inspired by the beauty around her while tending her garden. Bering’s work was part of the cancelled Tweed & Area Studio Tour, which was cancelled last year.
Donna Bonnin says that she “likes when the end result looks like it could be real.” Her gallery, called Back-in-Time, is located at Oak Lake, near Stirling, and she was recently featured in Marquis’ Who’s Who.
Nancy Brookes showcases her work at her gallery/antiques store in Maynooth called the Old Peterson Road Gallery. She primarily paints local history – old buildings and street scenes. Brookes says that it’s the “area that draws people in.”
John Christie lives on Paudash Lake and works “exclusively from life.” His work can also be found at the Bancroft APFTA gallery.
Allan Dring calls his Facebook page “Adventures on Canvas” and says that he has been “painting for years and years and years.” Dring says that his father and aunt painted and that it “runs in the family.”
PAM BAILEY BROWN
Pam Bailey Brown’s pottery is a “celebration of colour – like a Monet painting.” She and her husband developed their look in the
Marc Gagnon has been painting for more than 30 years and exhibits in many galleries throughout Ontario. This piece is one of his personal favourites because “it just worked perfectly.” Gagnon says that, “Painting is a process of searching . . . and the vernacular architecture in the area is a source of inspiration.”
Carol Giles writes that COVID has “made me more of a recluse and allowed a lot of painting to be done.”
HENRY MELISSA GORDON
Henry Melissa Gordon has work in several galleries in the north. She says that “there’s a whole new audience that’s interested in landscapes and abstracts, things that would sell well in the city” since COVID happened. Gordon focuses on what she calls “lineage honouring” – working with images of people who have passed away.
Linda Lang is an “internationally acclaimed expedition and climate change artist” who lives in Maynooth. “Her paintings are based on the knowledge she gained from her Inuit friends, scientists and over a dozen expedition to the Polar Regions. “
Lisa Mace lives near Coe Hill and has been painting professionally since 2002, when she sold her welder to buy paint. Mace said the Apsley Fall Studio Tour was “amazing the year because it was something for people to do that felt normal.”
Sadie MacDonald – Saidie’s Pottery – has been a potter since 1973. She says she “works in cycles” and that COVID has given her “more time to be a lot more connected with what I’m doing – more in tune. The clay tells me what to do.”
Nancy MacKinnon’s work “is inspired by the Group of Seven and living in north Hastings.” She lives on Baptiste Lake and has lots of pieces for sale at Rockwood Studio.
Lori Meeboer’s grandmother and father were oil painters, so she can’t actually remember when she first picked up a brush. She sees a “renewed interest in the arts this year” and believes this is due to people being home and spending less on other things. Meeboer lives near Corbyville.
Martin Mobbs lives near Madoc and paints rocks, landscapes, and equine images. His work can be found at Quinn’s of Tweed. Mobbs says that “painting is my focus, but I paint when I want to paint. I don’t paint to make money, but it’s nice when people appreciate my work.”
Molly Moldovan says that “some artists are blessed to be motivated during times of uncertainty, but I’m not one of them.” She gets her inspiration from where she lives – “from nature, light, the change of seasons.”
Ketha Newman has been painting for more than 20 years and she says that she’s “interested in pattern and also in local themes.” She’s currently getting ready for a solo show in July at the AGB – the theme of which is ‘painting during a pandemic’.
John Parson is the artist-in-residence at Grail Springs Retreat and Wellness Centre, near Bancroft. Parson says that he’s “concerned with the spirit, rather than the surface.” Although he primarily paints portraits, he’s started doing paintings on birch bark, which he says have become quite popular.
Pattison’s work can be found at The Old Hastings Mercantile in Ormsby. She has been painting “her whole life but has little time to paint these days given COVID protocols at the store.” She plans to go back to it, post pandemic.
Ron Plaizier says, “I’ve been fascinated with birds since I was a kid.” COVID has meant “less traffic in the studio, but from a creative point of view, there’s been more time to spend in the studio.” Plaizier’s work can be found at Quinn’s of Tweed and the Algonquin Arts Centre.
Bob Pennycook is a prolific painter who lives near Tweed. He says that he’s “been more creative during COVID” and that he’s found a “great passion for experimenting with new techniques.” His work can also be found at Quinn’s of Tweed and Studio 87 in Perth.
Jenny Pries , who lives in Roslin, recently won the Quinte Arts Council Award which recognizes emerging artists in the community, which she describes as an “honour”. This is a collage of her work.
Arne Rooseman is a prolific painter, illustrator, and mural artist whose career spans several decades. His work can be found at The Muse in Bancroft and elsewhere.
Mark Robinson farms near Eldorado and turned his interest in photography to painting in 2013. He says that his work “sells as fast as I can paint them.” Robinson has paintings at Quinn’s of Tweed and MacKenzie Mills Emporium in Madoc.
Nora & Jeff Stevens have been full-time potters in Madoc for the past six years. Stevens Pottery sells their “really useful pottery made by ageing hippies” exclusively on-line.
Susan Vanderway’s work can be found at Quinn’s of Tweed. Vanderway lives in Tweed and is “at home in the countryside, enjoying life in tandem with the weather, plants, animals, seasons and how they all connect and influence each other.”
Carol Westcott writes that she focuses on “the natural environment we often take for granted and on ‘urban-scapes’. . . It could be the familiar or something that I have just seen for the first time that inspires a painting – an impression of the setting.”
Clasina Weese describes her painting career as a series of breaks. She began painting in 2000 and says that “breaks, sometimes imposed, are part of being an artist.” Although her work is abstract, line and colour “pull her in”. Her work is featured in the Bancroft galleries.
Diane Woodward thinks of herself as a painter – as well she should – given her prolific 45- year career. However, since March she’s been making masks. In fact, she has made more than 2500 masks – all of which she has given away – and they are works of art inspired by her love of vibrant colour and design. Proof that art inspires art.
And then, there are the galleries: What’s amazing about the art galleries in Bancroft is that both the Art Gallery of Bancroft and A Place for the Arts operate exclusively through the efforts of local volunteers. This is an inspiring feat and it’s been on-going for decades. The Art Gallery of Bancroft hosts ten exhibitions each year and offers an Annual Juried Invitations Exhibition which encourages local talent. A Place for the Arts showcases artists who are beginning “their exploration of the fine arts or are long time professionals.”
Located beside APFTA in Bancroft is The Muse Gallery & Cafe which also exhibits the work of local artists and artisans.
And a visit to Tweed should always include a visit to Quinn’s of Tweed Fine Art Gallery. Owned and operated by Paul Kite and Paula Fitzpatrick, the gallery contains the works of dozens of local and not-so local artists and artisans.
When in Maynooth, be sure to check out Wildewood Gallery.
Please note: This list of artists and galleries in Hastings County is not a complete one.
But it’s proof that Hastings County is “brimming with courage” that’s wildly authentic.