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County artists join peers across the nation to help fire victims at Slave Lake

Cate Gongos, Art with a Heart organizers, received more than 15 paintings from Prince Edward County artists, thanks to her friend Kathy Felkar.

Prince Edward County artists are reaching out to help victims of fire to receive works of art in their newly built homes.
Original pieces of art have been provided by artists across the country to be donated to residents of Slave Lake, Alberta whose homes were destroyed by wild fire a year ago.
When Kathy Felkar’s friend Cate Gongos came to visit her in the County last week for a visit, Felkar presented her with more than 15 paintings donated by local artists wanting to help.

Gongo, with Nicola Ramsey, are the creators of the Art with a Heart project in Alberta and word has spread across the country. They have collected about 165 donations to date and are hoping for at least another 150. Charitable donation receipets are available. Transportation of works is being assisted by the Red Cross.

The project partners didn’t lose their homes to last year’s fire, but Gongo had lost her home to the day the year before.

“I was able to save some of my art but I know what it’s like to rebuild from scratch,” said Gongos. “People can go buy art, but it’s not the same as something that was a gift. Many people’s art was a gift from someone.”

Felkar and Gongos met about 40 years ago at McMaster University. They’ve stayed in touch but haven’t seen each other for many years.

“I saw on her Facebook that she was looking for artwork for the new houses with her project and I got in touch with Rosemary Kent who I go birding with (at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory),” said Felkar. “Rosemary is the sister of Judy Kent, who is with the local arts council. I didn’t hear anything from Rosemary, then she calls to say there’s a pile of donations to pick up and there may be more coming. It’s so wonderful of these artists to make these donations.”

Donations from local artists Judy Kent, Gwen Reilly, Kenneth Flitton, Claudia Jean McCabe and Judy Plomer will join the collection in Alberta. All the art is being shown at the visitor information centre, the college library, the town hall and other public buildings turned into make-shift galleries.

“These are gifts of art,” says Gongos. “There are over 300 registered to receive one of these gifts. The residents can check the galleries and list their top three choices. If more than one person chooses the same piece, we will decide with a draw.”

The collection includes paintings, metal work, bark carvings, masks, ceramics, First Nations art and photography.

“These donations from Prince Edward County artists are wonderful,” Gongos said. “They will be most appreciated in their new homes. On the back of each gift we will include the artist’s name and a bio if possible.

“It’s a fresh start for people in this town with all the new buildings going up and all the new homes. It’s a fresh start.”

Filed Under: Arts & CultureLocal News

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