Getting Ready for the One of A Kind Christmas Show

Monday, September 03, 2012

Canadian Spirit Huntsville: If you have ever ___ you will find it here

Poster designed by Col Mitchell

On August 31st, I attended the opening reception of the Canadian Spirit Huntsville art exhibit showcasing the works of five visual artists plus a singer/songwriter celebrating the 100th anniversary of Canadian painter Tom Thomson's arrival to Muskoka.

Unexpectedly,  I found myself intensely affected by the indoor and outdoor installations, bronzed and found item sculptures,  poetic paintings, and sound-scape music pieces that accompanied the collective. 

It began with a long and worthwhile exploration of Beverley Hawksley's sensitive installation of a myriad of potential personal items of Thomson. A collection that managed to be both touchably present and as ethereal as dreams and memory.

Like a sonar echo my thoughts expanded to collect and relate the connections suggested by each artists' deeply perceptive contributions to Thomson's "Muskoka experience." What I uncovered instead was my own well of intimate connections to Muskoka.

My roots in Muskoka were planted in infancy by my grandfather, who was one of the first cottagers on Smoke Lake in Algonquin Park -- Cabins built by friends, family, students and his own hands, water pumped in from the lake and boiled on a wood stove before use, propane fridge, and zero electricity amounted (surprisingly) to some of the best experiences of my childhood.

I offer warm gratitude to all the artists for their work as a gift of remembrance and highly recommend all who can to make the trip to visit the Canadian Spirit Huntsville art exhibition at The Art Space for the following (in my opinion and experience) good reasons:

If you have ever spent any time in Muskoka; in that youthful exploratory stage 
Where you have done "without" 
Where you don't cook in a kitchen, you cook over a fire 
Where you may sleep outdoors
Where you might actually catch your dinner
Where you find something; a discovery!
A view, a path, a pebble that takes you for a moment
You will find that at this exhibit.

If you have ever spent time with family that has long since departed
If you have ever spent time with your grandparent using odd materials
Like cheesecloth...
A connection to your history, your past grandparent's present.
(What do you do with Cheesecloth today? You used it yesterday.)
You will find that at this exhibit.

If you have ever picked up an interesting twig
Pinecone, rock, stick that had such interesting
Shape, colour, texture
Or made you believe in something a little otherworldly
Or connected you to the environment or
If you have ever made something from these materials
Made something decorative for your cottage, home, tent
If you have ever tied a string around a rock and hung it around your neck
You will find that represented here at this exhibit.

If you have ever been included in construction
Of a dock, or canoe, or cabin
Or a fire pit
Something substantial that actually took a hammer to build
And then you painted it
You know
Those "lovely" Muskoka cottage colours
Red, yellow, blue
You will find that here at this exhibit.

If you have ever sat at night and listened
To the sounds of your surroundings
Listened to the sparking of a fire
The winds 
Or wolves
The sounds that change when you hit the floor boards of your cabin
Or the soft leafy forest floor
The sounds of the water
The absence of sounds that don't belong in your environment

You will find it all here in this exhibit.


  1. it brought tears to my eyes, thank you ox Mom ox

  2. Inspiring... I want to go!

  3. Col, this is absolutely brilliant, atribute to Canadian Spirit and the power it evokes, There had to be a see-er, a listener ,and a story-teller and you have combined all. Beautiful accompaniment, I'm sure the various artists would be deeply moved to read your prose.


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