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Art in the County’s 25th season opens with art, artists and awards

Milé Murtanovski Jurors’ Choice Award winner for his painting “Pearls of Wisdom”

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
A special edition of the 25th annual Art in the County show and sale (AITC) unfolded in a new location – a renovated portion of The Armoury in Picton – and welcomed an opening night filled with art, artists and awards.

On the first day of summer, an invitation-only opening night celebrated AITC’s silver anniversary milestone in style and showed off its brand new home. Artwork in a wide range of media included sculpture, ceramics, wood, photography, fibre, glass and more, as well as oil, acrylic, watercolour and encaustic paintings.

“Each year, Art in the County showcases the highest quality work by County artists and artisans. All the art on display has been carefully chosen by three distinguished and experienced art experts who are professional qualified jurors,” said emcee Vanessa Pandos. “This year’s show features 120 works of art by 86 County artists.”

Brief introductions and thanks were made by Susanne Barclay, AITC committee chair, and Sue Holland, AITC committee member. Also thanked were the organizing committee of Dale Boyd, Veronica Cluett, Susan Low, Willa Rea, Annik Després and Claudia Jean McCabe. The hanging team – Caroline Shuttle, Claudia Jean McCabe, Angela Strachan, Jack Cluett and Laurie Gruer – was also acknowledged.

“This is the 25th anniversary of the little show that could,” said Barclay. “It would not be what it is today if it were not for many, many people and those people need to receive our thanks. Art in the County was founded in 1993 by four individuals who had the simple idea of promoting County artists.”

Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff also said a few words congratulating Art in the County on its 25 years and its contributions to the County.

This year’s exhibition jurors were three renowned Canadian art professionals – Wendy Cain, printmaker and papermaker, Daniel Hughes, portrait artist and Olexander Wlasenko, artist and curator.

Peter and Alice Mennacher, recipients of the inaugural Community Arts Builder Award

An initiative to mark the show’s 25th anniversary was the launch of the ‘Community Arts Builder Award’, chosen by County residents, to recognize people who have enriched community life through the arts. It includes a $250 cash component.

“This is a new award and it is to recognize individuals who played a central role helping build this amazing arts community that we have in the County that wouldn’t exist without the people who support it,” said Sarah Moran, AITC executive board member.

As directors and curators of one of the first galleries in the County, Peter and Alice Mennacher have brought together artists of various disciplines, but have also demonstrated a commitment to the visual arts, to County artists themselves, and to the community at large.

“They have not only supported local artists from many, many different diverse media, but they have really inspired artists to collaborate together and to do new things, that they perhaps otherwise might not have done. So, for their vision and their generosity and their hard work, we are presenting this award to Peter and Alice Mennacher,” said Moran.

In addition to their activities through Blizzmax Gallery, the Mennachers have been volunteers on various community boards, bringing their artistic vision to initiatives at The Regent Theatre and the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival.

Art in the County opening reception in its new location at the Picton Armoury

Prince Edward County’s juried premier art exhibition and sale has hosted more than 50,000 visitors since its inception in 1993 and has showcased more than 2,000 juried works of art by Prince Edward County artists, with total art sales in excess of $280,000.

Five Jurors’ Choice Awards and five Honorable Mention Awards were presented at the opening reception Thursday.

Pat Borecky with “Roots” (top) which received a Jurors’ Choice Honorable Mention Award.

The five Honorable Awards went to:
Pat Borecky for “Roots” a fabric collage;
Graham Davies for his analog black and white montage “1941- Ghost of the Blitz”;
Pauline Dinham’s Hanging Garden, acrylic on plexiglass;
Dianne Kehoe “Revelling in Energy – II” acrylic ; and
Rick Matthews “Green Wave” photography.

Jurors’ Choice Award winner Andrew Innes for “Dahlias at Dawn” presented by Paulette Greer of SideStreet Gallery

The five Jurors’ Choice Awards, with jurors’ notes, were given to:

Celestial, sculpture by Tom Ashbourne.
“The artist has revealed the pattern inherent in the stone, a good integration of translucence and opacity in the selection of materials that the sculpture created in cloud alabaster.

Dahlias at Dawn, watercolour on paper, by Andrew Innes.
“Great piece, excellent presentation, beautiful harmonies and colour shifts, masterful control of the medium”.

The Maker’s Hand sponsored the third and fourth winners of the Jurors’ Choice Award with the winner, “High Tea”, oil on board, by Mia Lane.

“Pearls of Wisdom” oil on wood panel by Milé Murtanovski.
“A strong figurative piece which shows a good understanding of anatomy and planar shifts. The harmony between cool and warm tones subdued colour palette and scale all work for the piece.”

Wendy Vervoort, 2Dblur
“Beautifully displayed, imaginative use of organic materials, its material that lends itself to soft visual presentation using a material that is prickly and inhospitable. The possibilities are exciting and endless for an artwork created of plant material.

Murtanovski, on receiving his Jurors’ Choice Award for “Pearls of Wisdom” said “The painting was something I was going to do anyway. I like to celebrate moments in my life. I started painting in 1988, so this is my 30th anniversary of that, so I decided to do a pearl anniversary celebration and painting. The only indication of that is the triple X tattooed on her arm which is the Roman numeral for 30, technically. And since 30 is the pearl anniversary, I decided to, instead of drowning her in pearls, which was my first inclination, and not overly clever maybe, I decided to do a metaphorical pearl thing having the books there as pearls of wisdom. Hopefully, I’ve learned something in the 30 years, so it’s meant to be reflective as well.”

Milé Murtanovski’s “Armistice Day Anniversary Cake”

Murtanovski also had a second piece in the show; a mixed composition entitled “Armistice Day Anniversary Cake”.

“It was another thing I was going to do this year anyway because of the Art in the County deadline,” he said. “I wanted people to see them because this is my personal celebration of my 30th anniversary. The cake is my final act of closure for my war project I did four years ago commemorating the beginning of World War One when I did a hundred paintings.”

Annik Després was this year’s recipient of the Otto Rogers Award for Excellence for her piece entitled “Before Winter”

The recipient of the 2018 Otto Rogers Award for Excellence, presented by renowned Canadian painter and sculptor Otto Rogers, was Annik Després for “Before Winter” oil on canvas.

“When Otto created this award in 2015, he determined ‘that the work chosen demonstrates an understanding of pictorial composition and as innovative in the configuration of concrete form and spatial effect. This achievement will depend on the artist’s knowledge, appreciation and application of principles found in advance art of any culture of any historical period’.”

“Congratulations to all the artists who were chosen by our jurors this year,” said Holland. “The three of them had all this task to do from all of the pieces that came in. In less than day, they chose the show and I think they did a fabulous job.”

The People’s Choice Award, determined by visitor ballots, will be presented at the close of the exhibition on Sunday, July 8 at 2pm.

“We are just thrilled, the turnout tonight is extraordinary, and what a party; it’s just grand” said Barclay. “I think everyone has been very positive about this new venue, so that’s very exciting. We’ve had the most artists offering work than we’ve ever had; more accepted than we’ve ever had and it just speaks volumes to the talent in this community and the arts in Prince Edward County.”

The 25th Annual Art in the County Juried Exhibition and Sale  continues daily through Sunday July 8, 2018 at The Armoury, 206 Main Street in Picton (enter through Studio Ex door off of Mary Street). Opening hours are from 10 AM to 6 PM daily (until 5 PM on Sundays, 3 PM on July 8). Admission is $3 for adults. Free for children under 12 years. Please use municipal parking lot on Mary Street, corner Elizabeth Street.

In celebration of Canada Day, admission to Art in the County is FREE to everyone on July 1st, thanks to the generous support of the Elizabeth Crombie Real Estate Team, Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty Brokerage. Everyone is invited to come and see the show, and share in some birthday cake!

For further details on 25th annual Art in the County, visit

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  1. You can read explanations of my two works (with progressive pictures and descriptions) on my blog (links below).

    Pearls of Wisdom:

    Armistice Day Anniversary Cake:

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