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Art in the County honours creative forces

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
The 26th edition of Art in the County continues its second week in the newly-renovated Mess Hall at Picton’s Armoury, dedicated to the memory of renowned artist Otto Donald Rogers, long-time friend of County artists, and of the show. Rogers died in April 2019.

A record number of entries was received this year with 120 artists submitting 217 works to three jurors, experienced art experts Fynn Leitch, curator, Art Gallery of Peterborough, Cheryl Wilson-Smith, sculptural glass artist and Rebecca Last, painter and lecturer. The trio selected 107 works by 75 Prince Edward County artists.

At the evening’s opening reception Amy Shubert, co-chair, thanked the show’s curators and hangers, the 63 volunteers who staff the show and the volunteer organizing committee of Susanne Barclay, Veronica Cluett, Iris Casey, Dale Boyd, Willa Rea, Susan Holland, Natalie Piper and Janna Smith.

From left, ‘Time Matters’ by Jennifer Topaz Bruce (Honourable Mention); ‘Wake Up’ by Dianne Kehoe (Maison Depoivre Award); ‘Slip Slidin’ Away’ by Dayna Law (Honourable Mention).

“Visual arts represent a major part of the local culture in Prince Edward County and is a big part of our economic driver,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson at the opening reception. “The many, many artists across our community are pushing the boundaries and producing provocative works using a variety of media. We might be a small community in terms of population, but we are blessed with a rich and vibrant arts scene that rivals many major centres.”

The recipient of the Annual Community Arts Builder Award, now in its second year, was Krista Dalby. Nominations are received from local residents and decided by a selection committee this year comprising Sarah Moran, Shirley Lewchuk and Laurie Gruer.

Krista Dalby (centre), recipient of the 2019 Annual Community Arts Builder Award with Laurie Gruer, award sponsor, and Sarah Moran.

Dalby, is well-known in the County as the artistic director of The Department of Illumination which puts together the Firefight Lantern Festival. This year, the group, under Dalby’s guidance, expanded to include a winter event called Ice Box.

Dalby is a visual artist, puppeteer, playwright, director, theatre producer and someone who aspires others to think outside the box. The award comes with a $250 gift.

Moran, presenting the award, said it celebrates and recognizes Dalby as someone who, through art, contributes to the community with huge impact.

Moran said the nominators described Dalby as a “creative force who creates opportunities for people to come together through arts, showing love for the PEC community by continuing to create magical experiences that are accessible to everyone.”

Dalby said community building is at the heart of what she does, and she was honoured to receive the award.

“It really does mean a lot to be acknowledged by the people that I serve, and it really helps me to carry on with the work, and that is sometimes really difficult,“ said an overwhelmed Dalby. “It’s great to be able to call on moments like this that feel really warm and beautiful when things get difficult.”

Five Jurors’ Choice Award winners and five Honourable Mentions selected by the panel of three jurors were also announced.

Mehdi Agadi receives his Jurors’ Choice Award certificate from Alex Fida, right

The Jurors’ Choice Award winners for 2019 were:
1. Mehdi Agadi, photograph giclée print ‘Quiet Warrior’;
2. Pat Busscher, water media, ‘Vista’;
3. Marion Casson, nuno felting, ‘Throw-County Sunrise’;
4. Shani Mootoo, photograph, ‘So It Is’; and
5. Claudia McCabe, acrylic, ‘Dreamt’.

The Honourable Mentions for 2019, presented by Susanne Barclay, were:
1. Graham Davies, analog photography hand-printed, ‘As Time Goes By’;
2. Jennifer Topaz Bruce, acrylic, ‘Time Matters’;
3. Dayna Law, acrylic, ‘Slip Slidin’ Away’;
4. Laura Morris, acrylic mixed media, ‘Prickly Walk’; and
5. Sam Serrano, photograph, ‘Primary’.

A first for Art in the County this year was the Maison Depoivre Award to recognize a work that demonstrates technical skill and originality and is thought-provoking.

Dianne Kehoe, recipient of the 2019 Maison Depoivre Award, with gallery owners Vincent Depoivre, left, and Christophe Doussot.

The jurors selected a winner from three finalists, as chosen by gallery owners Christophe Doussot and Vincent Depoivre. The recipient was Dianne Kehoe for ‘Wake Up!’.

She will be invited to exhibit her work at Maison Depoivre Gallery for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Doussot and Depoivre noted “The seductive boldness of this bright abstract painting is perfectly balanced and composed, yet evokes tension like a brewing storm.”

Annik Després, the recipient of the 2018 Otto Rogers Excellence Award, said a few words in recognition of Otto Rogers’ contribution to the artists of Prince Edward County, and to Art in the County.

“I reached out to a number of artists in the County who had a chance to engage with Otto,” said Després. “A very clear picture quickly emerged of a world-class master artist who was generous, encouraging, exacting and a serious teacher and mentor.”

Otto Rogers

“Prince Edward County artists have lost a generous and masterful artist, teacher and model. His passing is a great loss to us,” she said. “But as Otto told me, his teachings continue to live on in our individual and collective memories, and he has left us wanting to be the best artists and persons we can be; to make what we do count, and to celebrate.”

Art in the County runs until July 7 in The Mess Hall at The Armoury in Picton. Admission is $3, children under 12 are free of charge. The juried art exhibition is open on Canada Day, and is free of charge, with cake included.

Jurors’ Choice Award winners, Honourable Mentions, Maison Depoivre Award recipient and Community Arts Builder Award recipients pose for a photograph. They include Shani Mootoo, Dianne Kehoe, Dayna Law, Pat Busscher, Marion Casson; Graham Davies, Mehdi Agadi, Jennifer Topaz Bruce, Sam Serrano and Krista Dalby (missing from photo Claudia McCabe; absent, Laura Morris).

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