Robust Arts Community
With the Orillia Museum of Art and History as its cornerstone on Peter Street, Orillia’s vibrant Arts District boasts about a dozen galleries and studios of talented artists who showcase their pieces in a variety of mediums.
“Orillia has an incredible talent base,” says stone carver and painter, Marg Gurr, president of the Orillia & District Arts Counsel. “We also have a number of galleries that are around the city that don’t happen to be on Peter Street, but are within walking distance.”
A favourite annual event that attracts thousands of visitors, the Starry Night Studio & Gallery Tour, is held every August and is a must for those who want to experience the area’s rich arts community. The evening fuses exceptional art with refreshments and music beneath the stars as art enthusiasts stroll between galleries and chat with the artists. “It’s an absolute delight of an evening, it really is,” says Gurr. “It’s almost magical. There’s something about it that’s indescribable.”
Streets Alive, a distinctive living arts project, is another art event that adorns Orillia’s downtown core with unique sculptures between May and October. The project recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and for each year, a different theme has beautified the downtown.
While Orillia’s Art District is a mecca for artistic endeavours, many artists create their pieces in their home studios, which is why local studio tours are extremely popular.
The Chippewas of Rama First Nation is known for its exceptional artists, especially the Shilling family. Travis and Bewabon Shilling, sons of the renowned Aboriginal artist Arthur Shilling, are extraordinary talents, showcasing their work in galleries throughout Canada (including Orillia) and internationally.
The annual Images Studio Tour, held every Thanksgiving weekend for 35 years, is an opportunity for art lovers to visit 24 studios and talk to over 30 artists while enjoying the fall leaves throughout Ontario’s Lake Country. Thousands of people make this four-day, self-guided tour an annual Thanksgiving tradition where they find exceptional art in a variety of mediums. Visit https://www.images-studio-tour.com/ to learn about the artists and download the map.
To kick off each summer season, the self-guided Coldwater Area Studio Tour features approximately 20 studios and 30 artists near the end of June. Unique and innovative artwork throughout the Coldwater area, right to the shores of Georgian Bay, are highlighted on this annual tour.
“Studio tours are very personal events,” says Murray Van Halem, a painter and artist on both tours. “People love to see where artists create and talk to the artists.”
Visit www.coldwaterstudiotour.com for more information.