Kitch­ener-Water­loo So­ci­ety of Artists pro­vides com­mu­nity for those who of­ten work alone

Kitch­ener-Water­loo So­ci­ety of Artists pro­vides com­mu­nity for those who of­ten work alone

Grand Magazine - - ARTS & ENTERTAINM­ENT - BY JULIE-MARIE INNES PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY AN­DREJ IVANOV

Aplace to con­nect, re­flect and share op­por­tu­ni­ties for per­sonal and pro­fes­sional growth can be an in­valu­able re­source for artists who of­ten work in iso­la­tion. “Mak­ing art can be a very in­su­lar and lonely oc­cu­pa­tion,” Kitch­ener artist Ar­lene Mc­Carthy says. “Af­ter a while you don’t in­spire your­self, and you have to see other art and talk about your art in or­der to be in­spired to cre­ate – at least I do.”

Luck­ily for Mc­Carthy and oth­ers like her, there is the Kitch­ener-Water­loo So­ci­ety of Artists, of which she is the vice-pres­i­dent. The KWSA was formed in 1931 when Ralph Con­nor, the so­ci­ety’s first pres­i­dent, placed an ad in what was then the Kitch­ener Daily Record news­pa­per, invit­ing

lo­cal artists to meet in the Oak Room at Schre­iter’s Fur­ni­ture to talk about their mu­tual in­ter­est and be­gin cri­tiquing ses­sions, sketch­ing trips and ex­hi­bi­tions at lo­cal venues. A va­ri­ety of lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the Kitch­ener Pub­lic Li­brary, Doon School of Fine Arts and even a bi­cy­cle shed next to Kitch­ener-Water­loo Col­le­giate, served as their meet­ing places.

To­day the or­ga­ni­za­tion boasts a mem­ber­ship of more than 130 artists work­ing in a va­ri­ety of mediums from wa­ter­colour and acrylics to mixed me­dia and pho­tog­ra­phy. They gather the first Tues­day even­ing of ev­ery month from Septem­ber to June at the But­ton Fac­tory Arts in Water­loo. While the ma­jor­ity of its mem­bers are 65 and older, it is ac­tively en­cour­ag­ing younger mem­bers to join and has sev­eral stu­dents on its ros­ter.

“It’s a very nur­tur­ing, open, en­cour­ag­ing group,” says artist Anne Wil­liamson, the group’s pres­i­dent. “I think there’s a wealth of ta­lent in our re­gion and, if you’re an artist, there’s no pre­req­ui­site for join­ing.”

As well as net­work­ing, monthly meet­ings in­clude a speaker’s spot­light in which ac­claimed artists share tips and sto­ries. Mem­bers’ work is show­cased at an an­nual ju­ried show, which will be held in March at Homer Wat­son House and Gallery. Other lo­cales pro­vid­ing a space to view their tal­ents in­clude The Link, Frames by Verne, Minto Arts Coun­cil, But­ton Fac­tory Arts and the Kitch­ener Pub­lic Li­brary.

“We pro­mote artists, en­cour­age them and pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to show and sell their work,” says Wil­liamson, who is al­ways look­ing for more places to ex­hibit, but also wants to en­sure artists re­ceive fair pay for their ta­lent and ef­forts.

“I’d like to see our pres­ence grow and be­come a lit­tle more prom­i­nent in K-W,” Wil­liamson says. “I think it will over time.”

TIINA PRICE

Tiina Price’s ex­u­ber­ant per­son­al­ity is in­fec­tious, and it spills over into her art­work. That en­thu­si­asm fu­els her creativ­ity and has helped her de­velop a loyal fol­low­ing, not only in her home­town of Cam­bridge, but also na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally where her wa­ter­colours have gar­nered recog­ni­tion and awards.

She cred­its her hus­band for gen­tly nudg­ing her into paint­ing when he gave her a wa­ter­colour set for Christ­mas af­ter she re­tired as an English and art teacher in 2001.

“He wanted to know my plan for my free time, so I blurted out, ‘I think I’ll wa­ter­colour paint!’ ” she re­calls.

Her first paint­ing les­son was in 2002 at Kitch­ener’s Homer Wat­son House & Gallery, with in­struc­tor Mar­ion An­der­son. In March, Price will be back at Homer Wat­son Gallery, this time show­cas­ing her work in a room all of her own. She earned this hon­our by re­ceiv­ing the Cu­ra­tor’s Choice Award dur­ing the so­ci­ety of artists’ 2018 ju­ried show.

“Ev­ery­body has a creative side to them,” Price says. “I’m so lucky and to think I’ve ac­tu­ally been able to be­come a pain­ter, it just as­tounds me.”

A mem­ber of KWSA since 2004, Price has soaked in ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to grow and im­prove her skills, along with forg­ing friend­ships with like-minded souls.

“There’s that whole col­le­gial spirit at KWSA,” she ex­plains. “It’s got a re­ally good at­mos­phere. Ev­ery­body is sup­port­ive. If you’re a pho­tog­ra­pher, a wa­ter­colourist or paint in oils, what­ever your thing can be. We all rec­og­nize the strug­gles that other peo­ple have and the need for some val­i­da­tion. It’s good; you spur each other on.”

Price paints mainly in wa­ter­colour, with sub­ject mat­ter vary­ing from land­scapes and still lifes to por­traits and an­i­mal life. In­spi­ra­tion comes from her trav­els, her gar­dens, and even walk­ing her two dogs, Welsh springers named Dy­lan and Thomas.

“Paint­ing with wa­ter­colours al­lows the nu­ances of na­ture to un­fold. If it’s mean­ing­ful to me, some­how it trans­fers from heart to hand to pa­per,” she says.

She says she is con­stantly chal­lenged by the noted artists who ad­dress KWSA’s monthly meet­ings and dur­ing work­shops she or­ga­nizes in Cam­bridge with es­tab­lished artists such as David McEown, Ken MacFar­lane and Linda Kemp. Price is an ac­tive mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Wa­ter­colour So­ci­ety of Canada and is the group’s sec­re­tary. In Cam­bridge, she is also a mem­ber of Stu­dio 30 and part of the an­nual stu­dio tour.

“If you’re paint­ing, you’ve got this in­cred­i­ble sense of be­ing part of some­thing,” she says. “You’re so ab­sorbed and it’s gor­geous.” ABOVE: Tiina Price poses for a por­trait in the kitchen of her Cam­bridge home. Price says she likes to work in her so­lar­ium or in the kitchen, where she can paint while stand­ing at the is­land. OP­PO­SITE PAGE: Roger Young poses with one of his can­vas prints in his work­shop at his home in Cam­bridge. Young, who used to teach pho­tog­ra­phy at Con­estoga Col­lege, is also work­ing on a se­ries of prints, mak­ing al­pha­bet let­ter­ing out of his im­ages of reeds.

ROGER YOUNG

Roger Young refers to his fine-art pho­tographs as sto­ries, and he uses light to tell those sto­ries, whether it’s still-life flo­rals, land­scapes or stud­ies in com­po­si­tion. It’s some­thing he’s been per­fect­ing and ex­per­i­ment­ing with for more than 40 years, and it’s brought him not only ac­claim, but also great sat­is­fac­tion.

“A friend says I go into a Zen state when I pick up my cam­era,” Young says. “I just close the world off and then I’m open to things. I’ll be walk­ing around over by Puslinch or in Welling­ton County, and

I’ll see the darn­d­est things grow­ing in the spring. You’re look­ing down and go, ‘Wait a minute,’ and I get down on my hands and knees and take a pic­ture.”

Young has made his liv­ing do­ing pho­tog­ra­phy, start­ing as a pain­ter study­ing with John Ren­nie in Port Car­ling, then turn­ing to pho­tog­ra­phy dur­ing univer­sity days at McMaster.

Buy­ing his first 35-mil­lime­tre cam­era was piv­otal. “Pho­tog­ra­phy al­ways fas­ci­nated me. I knew where I was go­ing. I didn’t know how I was go­ing to do it, but I knew that was it.”

A night course in pho­tog­ra­phy at Sheri­dan Col­lege guided him in his early stages and then he moved on to work in med­i­cal, me­dia and free­lance pho­tog­ra­phy. Cam­bridge has served as home base for more than 30 years where he has honed his skills. He also taught pho­tog­ra­phy at Con­estoga Col­lege for 15 years.

Work­ing with film in those early days and de­vel­op­ing his black-and-white work in the dark room was chal­leng­ing and lim­it­ing. Now dig­i­tal has opened a world of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“For colour, dig­i­tal is spec­tac­u­lar,” he raves. “The range is just in­cred­i­ble.”

Shar­ing and con­nect­ing on the in­tri­ca­cies and in­no­va­tions in his craft is just one of the ben­e­fits he has en­joyed dur­ing his eight-year mem­ber­ship in the Kitch­en­erWater­loo So­ci­ety of Artists.

“We talk com­po­si­tion and colour; it’s just a lan­guage we all use,” he ex­plains. KWSA has re­vived his in­ter­est in his art and given it a broader au­di­ence dur­ing its many shows. His work is also dis­played at The Peo­ple’s Gallery in Water­loo and Frames by Verne in Kitch­ener.

“I get ideas at KWSA,” he says. “Some­one gave a talk there on the use of pas­tels and now I’m try­ing to com­bine my pho­tog­ra­phy with pas­tels. The biggest prob­lem is try­ing to find the right pa­per that can han­dle both. I’m push­ing and push­ing and hope to get up enough nerve to ex­hibit in that for­mat in the fu­ture.”

JOSEPHINE CZECH

With three boys un­der the age of seven, Josephine Czech says be­ing a mem­ber of the so­ci­ety of artists “is like be­ing on a mini-va­ca­tion.”

Czech takes full ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend KWSA’s monthly meet­ings and mix with fel­low artists who of­fer not only fel­low­ship, but also ad­vice for her bur­geon­ing art ca­reer.

“It’s iso­lat­ing to be a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “KWSA is time for me. I needed to talk to peo­ple who do art. It’s just great. Every­one is so friendly, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion keeps you posted on where you can do shows and how to ap­ply.”

Czech paints in oils and is cap­ti­vated by her sur­round­ings, es­pe­cially near her home in ru­ral New Ham­burg. Cap­tur­ing the essence of the rolling pas­tures and land­scapes, she un­earths the beauty of sim­ple scenery with a keen eye for colour and tex­ture.

She comes from a fam­ily of artists that in­cludes pot­ters and sculp­tors. Her fa­ther’s crafts­man­ship build­ing wooden boats also plays a role in her sub­ject mat­ter. Scenes from Nipiss­ing and Ge­or­gian Bay’s shore­lines, where he keeps his boats, fea­ture promi­nently in her work.

Armed with a bach­e­lor of fine art from the Univer­sity of Water­loo, she says her re­al­is­tic paint­ing has been pri­mar­ily self-taught and is fu­elled by books, YouTube videos and other artists dur­ing in­struc­tional time at KWSA meet­ings.

Oil is her pre­ferred medium and she likens it to “colour­ful but­ter that’s fun to work with.”

A cam­era is al­ways with her and so are her in­spi­ra­tions, which are of­ten found dur­ing walks or drives on the coun­try roads. “My kids at this point know mom is go­ing to pull over all the time to take pic­tures. I have to. The land­scapes around here – I just have to do some­thing with them.” Her boys, Sully, Frankie and Leo, have also re­cently been fea­tured in her work and may form the ba­sis for an up­com­ing se­ries.

While al­ways look­ing for places to show and sell her work, in­clud­ing at the New Ham­burg Stu­dio Tour, she reg­u­larly en­ters ju­ried shows like Paint On­tario in Grand Bend and at KWSA’s ju­ried show where she’s pre­vi­ously been awarded the Cu­ra­tor’s Choice Award and a Ju­ror’s Choice Award.

As one of the younger mem­bers in the KWSA group, learn­ing from the long­time pro­fes­sion­als and hob­by­ists helps her. The shar­ing goes both ways. “They have great ad­vice. I also help many of them with In­sta­gram, telling them ‘You’ve got to hash­tag!’ ”

Anne Wil­liamson, left, pres­i­dent of the Kitch­ener-Water­loo So­ci­ety of Artists, and Ar­lene Mc­Carthy, vice-pres­i­dent, pose in front of var­i­ous art­works by so­ci­ety mem­bers at Frames by Verne in Kitch­ener.

Josephine Czech poses for a por­trait with one of her paint­ings in her home stu­dio in New Ham­burg.

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