Visual Arts aplenty in this end of the Annapolis Valley!

Uncommon Common Art is back for season #11

The eastern Annapolis Valley is suddenly ripe with artistic effort – everything from new murals going up on barns to new galleries.
That barn is at Longspell Farm in Kingport and it’s getting a unique coat of paint this week.
Nova Scotia College of Art & Design prof Ericka Walker is hard at work painting her second mural for Uncommon Common Art. In 1806, the Kings County Agricultural Society changed its motto to ‘Be Industrious That You May Live’ and Walker has seized on that phrase for her inspiration.
“This will be the biggest build the UCA has ever done,” says artistic director Terry Drahos, “and hopefully a landmark for years to come.”
An internationally known printmaker as well, Walker has an ongoing project to create a series of murals in rural settings across North America. Kings County will now be home to two of these outstanding works of art, says Drahos.

Walker’s first colourful mural from 2016 adorns the side of a Taproot Farm building in Canard. It highlights the sounds from pre-mechanized agriculture.

Last year Walker was out west adding a new mural to the back wall of the Abbotsford, B.C. Legion.
The regional outdoor art exhibit highlights two of Kings County’s greatest assets, says Drahos, the natural beauty of the Minas Basin's Annapolis Valley and the abundance of creative people who live in the area.
The UCA series features 17 artists this year. Many of them are familiar names like Kevin West at the Charles Macdonald Concrete House, Miyoshi Kondo, whose work was vandalized in Wolfville last year will be in Harbourville, Twila Robar-DeCoste in Aylesford and on the hill in North Grand Pre work created by Nicole Evans and Patrick Farrell.
Among the stops I’m keen to scout out is a three-piece work in three locations by Kim Morgan and Bruce Anderson. It will offer a counter-point to a trio of monuments. Dyan Hatanaka is going to set out bird-shaped piñatas in the Kentville Gorge, while Brian Riley and Andrew Bilz plan a unique ‘I Spy’ near the Gaspereau River. Luckily we’ll have till October to view all 17 installations.
Elsewhere in the arts
- Lynda MacDonald at Harvest Gallery in Wolfville is representing artist Joyce Martin, who had a career of 30 years creating intaglio prints, watercolours, and later oil paintings.
After surviving a brain aneurysm in 2006, the former Hall’s Harbour resident dropped out of the local art scene. Now her daughter, Trisha, is using social media to bring her mother’s prints back to a local audience.
Martin graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1973 and studied in Switzerland at the Centre de Gravure Contemporaine. Most of her prints have a story connected to them and that’s why people love them. Martin was able to capture the coastal boating way of life along the Bay of Fundy - one that is ever adapting and evolving and in some cases disappearing all together.
- This summer courses are scheduled at a second new visual arts venue in Kentville. The River St. Workshop for Art & Lifestyle will offer sessions in everything from painting to temporary tattoos.
- The Acadia University Art Gallery is seeking to borrow Maud Lewis paintings this August and September for what promises to be a colourful exhibit. Curator Laurie Dalton has had this show in mind since completing her Master's thesis on 'The Maud Lewis Gallery and the Folking Over of Nova Scotia'. Imminent Maud expert Alan Deacon and biographer Lance Woolaver will assist Dalton.

Drahos exhibit opens at new Kentville art gallery

Campbell, left, & Nelson
The Hardware Gallery on Cornwallis Street in Kentville has its second exhibit up now. Entitled ‘My North American Home’, it features the work of well-known Wolfville artist and arts educator, Terry Drahos.
Gallery director Sasha Nelson says the aim of the gallery is to expose Kentville and the Valley “to more art and its obviously hugely needed.”
Operated by the Kentville Art Gallery Society (KAGS), Nelson says, the non-profit society was established last year with the mission to offer cultural experiences in downtown Kentville and provide exposure to contemporary and historical aesthetic practices.
Kentville used to boast a stable of professional artists, such as Marjorie Boyd and Mona Balcom, but KAGS board member Scott Campbell sees a new wave of talent emerging.
The 75-year-old former T.P. Calkin hardware store is also likely to become a cultural and small business hub for the region. The estate of the late Kentville businessman Doug Macdonald donated the building to the town late in 2016. Nelson said it took about a year to renovate the gallery and adjacent space for multiple uses.
Over that time the gallery society was formed as a volunteer group, which Campbell chairs. Other members include J.D. McCullough, Scott and Genevieve Hearn, Hilary Drummond, Franny Rutchinski, Laura MacDonald and Nelson’s wife, Beth Ross. Contractor Eric Deal was also a crucial contributor.
Kentville provided the gallery space for the first year of operation and a donation to cover the costs of renovating the space came from the Kentville Community Fund. The original hardwood floors have been exposed, and the space now has excellent gallery-grade track lighting.
A portion of the first floor of the building is used seasonally by the Kentville Farmers’ Market, but can be utilized for workshops, says Nelson, and there’s an ample kitchen.
Campbell looks around at the inaugural exhibit of works by Shasta Grant of the Kentville area and Simone Labuschagne of Wolfville and sees a first rate gallery.
Grant, left, Nelson & Labuschagne
“This is a community effort for the community,” notes Nelson, “it’s been an amazing experience and I think the hardest part is over.”
Holding a Masters degree in Fine Arts, a degree in painting, and qualified as a Red Seal carpenter, he saw the town’s need for a creative space.
“Kentville is very business oriented,” he adds. “I think culture creates a sense of place. Everybody is welcome.”
Campbell says that feeling of belonging could use some polish in Kentville. There are those who express fear about walking downtown after dark. Hardware Gallery, he says, aims to be the antithesis of that sentiment.
“That’s important. We’re inclusive and that the gallery is a drawing card,” Campbell believes.
In addition to monthly rotating exhibits, the gallery will host workshops and talks, as well as offer an art rental program.
“We're hoping that we can create a space and a general atmosphere that will inspire people to engage more in the arts. The gallery is open to all media, traditional or otherwise. There will always be a space for what comes out as people become more engaged.”
This week Hardware Gallery starts its first workshop, YogaArt, for middle school girls to experience both yoga and drawing.
This after school workshop, in partnership with the town, begins May 10. It will be taught by Nelson and his wife.

The Drahos exhibit, which was inspired by architecture, will run till May 30. She uses bold colors and shapes reminiscent of both rural and urban constructions rendered into abstraction.
Drahos is passionately engaged with the practice of painting, says Nelson. This show chronicles each house she has lived in from birth to the present day
“Her use of colour is sophisticated - rich darks and somber, murky hues act as foils to bold primaries and other luminous colours.”
He comments her work in art education and introducing art to young people is completely consistent with and supportive of Hardware Gallery’s objectives.”
A grand opening will take place in June, featuring the work of artist Meaghan Bray and photographer Justine MacDonald. A community show in July will showcase both established and emerging artists, and will be centered around the theme of Red.
Hardware Gallery is on Facebook For more information about YodaArt go to: 
Watch out for the Plein Air Artists of the Annapolis Valley
Watkins, left, & Wedler
There were about 10 painters ‘speed dating with light’ when the Plein Air Artists of the Annapolis Valley converged recently.
Easels were set up on both sides of the Cornwallis River for the second outing of the season, which took place by the Gladys Porter bridge at Port Williams. Organizer Edward Wedler has a total of 26 painting locations already planned out this year. They range from Bear River to Windsor and he’s included eight new stops for the season.
“This is our third year,” says Wedler, who used to own the bookstore in Greenwood. Looking at the tide, he added, “I love this end of the Valley.”
Typically those participating actively paint for two and a half hours, then gather for a friendly critique of each other’s work, said Arlington painter Bill Watkins.
Now living in Bedford, Wedler noted, they’ve been joined by vacationers from as far away as New York and Scotland, who heard about the plein air group via social media. He posts the locations and dates well ahead of time.  
En plein air is French for outdoors, so artists seek out landscapes to paint in. The method contrasts with studio-based painting.


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