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Artists in the family inspire each other

By David Mackay
Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity proved that the universe is a strange and mysterious place. He developed his theory through an analysis of bending light in space. A brilliant new exhibition at the John Parrott Art Gallery in Belleville would
certainly catch the great scientist’s attention. It is called Relativity and while it shares wonderful works that feature the use of light and space, it also plays on the fact that the artists are related.
Victoria Wonnacott, of Montreal, has returned to the city of her birth to share an exhibition with her uncle Gerry Putman, of Picton. The show runs until July 14.
Early indications are the exhibition may be one of the highlights of the year as the Parrott Gallery celebrates its fifth anniversary.
Wonnacott left Belleville to attend the University of Waterloo in a fine arts program and gradually migrated east to Montreal where she and her husband now operate the 4010 studio.
“ It’s great to come home,” she said. “I remember fondly the shows at the library when I was a child.”
She also pays tribute to her uncle for being her inspiration to pursue a career in the arts. Working in thematic units, Wonnacott explores a variety of deeply personal issues under the titles of Memory and the Raft series based on her childhood memories of her family’s vacation property in the Quebec Townships. Her latest series, called Coming To The Surface, features canvases that shimmer through rain shower
imagery. Her work is bold and strong demonstrating an artist who is continually evolving in her interpretation of her world.
Her partner in this project is her uncle Gerry Putman, a legendary artist from Prince Edward County. They began planning this exhibition 14 months ago at one of the
yearly family reunions called “Dozen Cousins”.
For Putman, this is also a home coming.
“I grew up on Herchimer avenue and my music teacher and neighbour was Beatrice Parrott, the wife of John Parrott after whom the gallery is named,” he says.
For those familiar with Putman’s history, there will be surprises. In the past he has built his reputation on representational landscapes and seascapes that highlight his keen eye for light and shadows in the natural world. For this show, his art is more personal and much different than previous work.
“I was really inspired by some of the images sent back by the Hubble Telescope, said Putman.
His inspiration can been seen in the layering of textures and the overlay of tiny transparent brush strokes that in the best tradition of Einstein seem to bend light.
At the opening of the show this past weekend his many friends and patrons were awestruck at his courage to strike out in this new direction, noting his transformation as an artist at this stage of his career is nothing short of outstanding.
While Wonnacott gives her uncle credit for inspiring her to pursue a career in art, Putman has been inspired by his niece to reach for the stars.
Relativity, at the Parrott Gallery, Belleville Public Library, stands as example of two artists sharing a common background and inspiring each other to new standards of excellence.
Gallery hours:
Monday – Closed
Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday – 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday – 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday – 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The County's Carl and Betsy Kidd performed at the grand opening.

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