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Buckhorn Fine Art Festival

Traveling to Buckhorn and visiting the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival is always a great experience! Even though we have visited it many times, the experience never becomes “old”. It’s amazing how many long time friends and acquaintances we see there each year! For me, it’s always the joy to see what’s new, both in the art of our friends and acquaintances and the new artists that are being featured. If you have never been to the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival, I would suggest you are missing a really great event! Buckhorn is easy to get to and is only a few hours drive from Toronto.

2012 Buckhorn Fine Art Festival

Jon Law

by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Jon Law

For Art Lovers...

I have been to the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival once before, but only to perform so I didn’t get a chance to look around. After getting that chance this year, I certainly wish I had. With over forty exhibits and live music, the B.F.A.F. is definitely a must for lovers of the arts.

35th Anniversary Gala

The Buckhorn Fine Art Festival Gala Preview Night was a great chance to explore the festival without such a large crowd. Each artist was asked to submit a piece for a the 35th Anniversary Exhibit along one end of the Community Centre, however this exhibit was rather dark, had minimal signage, and could easily be missed if you were keeping your attention on the artists’ booths. There was art for just about any budget, from free samples right up to a $35,000 soapstone carving. The live music at the Gala, a Spanish group, was fun and at just the right volume so you could hear it but still be able to hear yourself think and speak at a comfortable volume. The entrance gate on Gala night seemed a bit disorganized. If you had your tickets you went one direction, but those who wanted to purchase or pick up reserved tickets had to go the other direction and then back in the other to pick up the free tote bag and program. The organizers put together a scavenger hunt; get your card signed by thirty-five of the artists and receive a free print of the art from the front of the program. This was a good way to encourage people to visit the entire festival, but the artists, especially on the Gala night, were often busy talking with patrons and other artists and I’m sure most people wouldn’t interrupt the conversations just for a print. The Gala night also featured a wine tasting featuring wine from Colio Estate Wines in Essex, and Casa-Dea Estate Winery in Prince Edward County. I don’t drink wine but those who did seemed to enjoy the nine wines offered. All in all, the 35th Buckhorn Fine Art Festival was a great show with only a few very minor hiccups.

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2007 Buckhorn Fine Art Festival

Back To The Beginning…

Over 20 years ago Judi and I were introduced to the "Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival". We were living in the Toronto area at the time and a friend, who lived and worked in Peterborough, suggested we visit them and visit the festival with them. We accepted and that was the real start of our love for festivals. We had a great time on that first visit, so much so that we have only missed visiting the festival two times in 23 years. That first visit was the start of collecting fine art and becoming friends with many artists. Attending the Buckhorn Festival has become a yearly ritual for many people. Although the festival has changed over the years, the quality and integrity of the art has not. The Buckhorn Fine Art Festival (new name) is located in the heart of the Kawarthas, near the tiny village of Buckhorn. You know you’ve entered the village when you pass the “Buck” statue that was presented to the village by the festival committee so many years ago. Each year the festival is “kicked off” with a Grand Opening on Friday night. This year Buckhorn celebrated their 30th anniversary and in a fitting tribute they honoured the man who started it all, Edwin Matthews. Unfortunately Judi and I could not be there, but we met Ed the next day. Seeing Ed brought back many fond memories of visiting his beautiful creation, “Gallery-on-the-Lake”. It is still operating (with different owner) and is as beautiful as ever. I’ll take more about this gallery a little later in this article. Driving to the festival was like putting on an old comfortable pair of shoes. It was like driving back in time. We passed our old home located on Upper Chemong Lake (AKA Mud Lake) and then drove into Buckhorn, where we had passed through Lock 31 so many times. Shortly after we had left Buckhorn, we reached our final destination, the festival off-site parking lot. The shuttle bus was there waiting to take visitor to the festival grounds…

Art and Artists…

The shuttle bus dropped us off right at the main entrance. There is a back way from the parking lot to the festival grounds, but we chose the bus. We paid our admissions (adults - $6.00 and seniors/students $5.00) and went through the gate in to the festival. From experience we turned right and headed for the Community Centre building. This is the largest of the buildings and holds the most artists. The Buckhorn Festival is all about artists and their art. It is a celebration of the talent and effort that goes into each creation. Over the next few sections I am going to introduce a few of the artists and their art. Most of the artists I have chosen to talk about are know to Judi and me. We have watched them grow and develop over the years. As artists we appreciate their talents. As friends and acquaintances we appreciate their comradeship and advice. Our first artist is Julia Conlon. We met Julia at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival (Click HERE to view article) many years ago. She was a fresh and eager artist ready to please festival visitors with her depictions of every day occurrences. Julia and her husband, Marty, traveled Buckhorn from their home and gallery which are located in Windsor, Ontario.

Next is Marilyn Mercer. For a number of years Marilyn’s Cobourg Waterfront Festival was next to Judi’s. Over the course of several days and years we had the chance to become familiar Marilyn, her art and her humour. Marilyn’s home and studio/gallery are in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. Marilyn experiments with different media and subjects, but she is best known for her floral paintings which are absolutely amazing.

More Art and Artists…

Our next stop was at Glen Loates booth. (Click HERE to read the Nomad's article about Glen's Art. Glen was this year’s feature artist. Glen is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Although he is best known as a wildlife artist, his very inquisitive mind takes him into many areas of interest, a writer, a cartoonist, a collector, a model maker and he was the first artist to descend 5,117 feet in a submersible, to study and record deep-sea life in the Atlantic Ocean. My most vivid memory of Glen was at a friend’s home in Pittsburgh. We were sitting at the kitchen table looking out the window, Glen, as usual had a pencil and paper in his hands. A male cardinal had just landed of the branch of a nearby tree and Glen started furiously to sketch the bird’s image. It took him only a few minutes to complete, but piece would have been a wonderful addition to anyone’s art collection. Glen and his wife Sally live north of Toronto.

Our forth artist is Linda Goodrow. Linda is a wildlife photographer whose African wildlife portraits are spectacular. At first Linda’s photography was a hobby, taking pictures of her children, but it grew over the years, until she realized her lifelong dream of traveling to Africa. As a result of her trip, Linda published her photographs in her book, African Dreams. Linda’s home is Burlington, Ontario Fifth on our list is Paul Murray. I first met Paul years ago at the Cobourg Waterfront Festival. I was introduced to Paul by a mutual friend. I have admired Paul’s work ever since. Paul and his with Cathy divide their time between Windsor, Ontario and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Paul’s depictions of the people of the Smokey Mountains are truly extraordinary. His paintings capture the wonderful character of the people who live there. When viewing Paul’s art you want to dig deeper to find out the true story behind each image.

Our Journey Continued…

The sixth artist to be featured is Johannus Boots. Each of John’s works tells a story both in the actual image and the hidden images scattered throughout each piece. Some are easier to see than others. The skill and thought that goes into each of his paintings is truly inspiring. The stories that he tells are of nature and the human spirit. Judi and I have admired Johannus’s work for many years and given several prints to our family. Even his website is spiritual. John currently lives in Burlington. We left the community centre and moved on to the artist huts. There are 11 huts in total and form an irregular ring around a pavilion. Entertainment is on going in the pavilion throughout the festival. Michael Dumas is the next artist to be featured. (Click HERE to read the Nomad's article about Michael) I have known Michael and admired his work for many years. Michael is an artist’s artist, his innovative techniques and attention to detail is second to none. His knowledge of his subject matter is amazing. Several years ago, when I worked for Edwin Matthews (founder of the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival) at Buckhorn Publishing, I had the opportunity to travel with Michael to Banff, Alberta. We were there for a formal presentation of Michael’s work to the Canadian Park Partnership, a group that represented all the Friends of National Parks. Due to travel pricing, our stay was going to be for a few days but our official duties were going to be only a few hours. This left us with a lot of free time. We had rented a car, so we decided to go exploring. Exploring with Michael is quite the experience! By the time we were through, I knew more about wildlife and their habits than I thought possible. It certainly gave me a new level of appreciation for Michael, his expertise and his talent. Michael and his wife Ellen live in the Buckhorn area.

The eight artist is Brent Townsend. Brent is a wonderful wildlife artist known for his expansive canvases whose scenes depict the “intimate connection the animals have with their habitat”. Although Brent has been appreciated worldwide by art collectors, he is likely best known in Canada for his Polar Bear design that can be seen on the back of Canada’s two dollar coin. His hometown of Campbellford has erected a monument to his accomplishment. Brent’s work along with other amazing artists can be seen at his Gallery, Townsend’s, which is now located in Warkworth, Ontario. Brent and his wife Kelly and their children still live in beautiful Campbellford.

Our Final Three Art and Artists…

Eddie LePage (Click HERE to read the Nomad's article about Eddie) and I have been friends and business associates for a long time. Our friendship has transcended time and change. Eddie is recognized throughout North America for his inspirational paintings of First Nations people, animals and their relationship with one another. A number of years ago Bradford Exchange used an Eddie LePage image called “Retreat” on one of their collector plates. The plate quickly sold out (very rare!) and a whole Eddie LePage “Wolf” series was born. From that humble beginning Eddie’s wolf images have been used by Bradford on many different collectible items. So much so that Eddie is one of Bradford’s most collected artists. Eddie’s originals and prints can be seen at his son and daughter-in-law’s gallery, Native Focus, in Port Perry, Ontario. Eddie and his wife Kim live in Peterborough, Ontario.

Many years ago Judi and I purchased a small Paul Brunelle limited edition sculpture. It was of four chickadees. It was one of our first art purchases. We loved it when we first purchased it and it remains one of our favourite pieces. Over the years, we have attended many Buckhorn and other art shows and have seen Paul’s work many times. I have always marvelled at Paul’s talent and the precision of his work. Our final featured Buckhorn artist is Mia Lane. Mia is best known for her wonderful paintings of “man’s best friend”, our beloved dogs! Over the years Mia has likely painted or thought about painting every breed. Mia does not just paint dogs, but raises them and has many of her own. Every time I visit Mia and her family, I know I will have a friendly, if not noisy , welcome from her furry friends. What I admire most about Mia is that she is always trying to improve on what and how she paints. She is a student of fine art. Whether it’s taking classes to improve her skills or experimenting on some new techniques, she is always committed to craft. Mia and her husband Robert live south of Belleville, Ontario. This is the end of talking about some of Buckhorn’s great artists, but not the end of visit to the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival and some of the areas best art galleries…

The Rest of the Show…

We left the artists huts and headed for the food tent Buckhorn always provides excellent food for its attendees. After we finished our lunch, we moved to the amateur art tent. As we entered a volunteer handed us a Fine Art Competition ballot for the People’s Choice Award. There were several classes to chose from, Hobby Artist Class- Acrylic, Oil, Pastel, Watercolour, Teenage, Novice and Open. All of the art on display was excellent and choosing one over another was difficult. Also displayed in the tent was the wood carving show and competition. The carvings were absolutely amazing; to be able to take a block of wood and turn it into something so special is beyond my comprehension. There was even a carvers store in the tent were carvers and would-be carvers could purchase supplies. Just outside the tent’s exit was a chainsaw carving demonstration, by artist Doug Brooks. Watching a chainsaw carver is always great fun if not a little noisy. The speed with which most chainsaw carvers work is surprising and a bit scary. It makes me think of “Freddy Krueger” (Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street). Time was moving on and we wanted to visit some local art galleries. A good friend of ours was exhibiting at one of them. The shuttle bus took us back to our car and then we were off to our next stop…

On To the Galleries…

After leaving the festival parking lot we headed west to a local Gallery. Our artist friend Mary Kendrick was exhibiting there and we wanted to visit with her and see her new paintings. (Click HERE to read the Nomad's article about Mary) The gallery invites Mary and James Lumbers annually to exhibit during the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival.

We have known Mary Kendrick for many years and have admired her work since the beginning of our friendship. Many of her beautiful original floral and landscape oil paintings grace our walls. When we were organizing the first Cobourg Waterfront Festival, one of our tasks was to convince artists that it would be a great festival to participate in. I knew if I could talk Mary into coming, other artists would follow. A friend and I traveled to Windsor’s Art In The Park to see Mary and other artist. We approached Mary first and gave her our sales pitch. She immediately said yes! Judi and I told her she had to stay with us during the Festival. She happily (?) accepted. For over 15 years her visits to our home each year were anticipated with great excitement. She became and is part of our family.

The other artist featured is internationally collected James Lumbers. James is best known for his “Moments In Time” series. His paintings tell stories of past and present. He accomplishes this by painting ghost like images of the past within a modern setting. It is amazing to see how people react when they look at one of Jim’s paintings. I have seen happiness, sadness and self reflection, but most of all I have seen people remembering their past.

Our Second Gallery Stop…

We bid our goodbyes to Mary Kendrick and headed back east through Buckhorn to Gallery-on-the-Lake. This is the gallery that Barb and Edwin Matthews built and it is one of the most beautiful galleries in Canada. From the parking lot we walked up the gravel driveway to the gallery. The gallery is situated on a rocky ridge overlooking lower Buckhorn Lake. To get into the gallery you have to walk up several step (they do have a wheelchair ramp) and the go through large double doors into the main reception area. The central octagon shaped room, when Judi and I visited, was featuring the art of James Keirstead. Off the centre room are a number of large side display rooms. Each room features different artists. The rooms are spacious enough to be able to hang large works of art without them looking out of place. The number of artists represented is impressive. Towards the lakeside portion of the gallery is a larger rectangular room that led's to a Tea Shop. The shops windows overlook scenic Buckhorn Lake. Underneath this area is the gallery’s art school. The guest art instructors are the who’s who of Ontario art. Over top the main octagon room is another similar shaped large room. Above that is the outlook room. Up there you get a great view of all the surrounding terrain. The view of the lake is spectacular! The best time of year to be in this room, however, is fall. The colours and view are breathtaking! Judi and I have great memories of Gallery-on-the-Lake, as customers and later as sales representatives of Buckhorn Publishing. Imagine our surprise and happiness to see former gallery and Buckhorn Publishing owner Edwin Matthews. Just seeing and talking with him brought us a great deal pleasure and a little sadness. As we toured the gallery we were reminded how much the gallery has meant to us over the years. The new owners have certainly maintained the integrity of Barb and Ed’s original concept.

Our Third and Final Gallery Visit…

We were now on our way to the Whetung Ojibwa Crafts and Art Gallery. The gallery is located south of Buckhorn on the Curve Lake Indian Reserve. The reserve is nestled between Chemong Lake to the east and Pigeon Lake to the west. The gallery is a beautiful large log building and houses a treasure trove of native arts and crafts. Whetung’s features some of the best North American native artists. These artists include Rick Beaver, David Johnson, Nori Peters, Benjamin Chee Chee and Norval Morrisseau. This weekend they were holding their annual Summer Art Show. Many of the gallery's feature artists were on site. Owner Michael Whetung and his family have operated Whetung’s for many years. I can remember our first visit some 20 years ago. Just walking through the front doors was an awe inspiring experience. Everywhere you look there are new discoveries, masks, clothing, sculptures, leather work, jewelry, books and, of course, fine art. Even though the business has existed for a long time, they seem to always be re-evaluating what they do and making what they do better. It is never easy is to make a “quick” trip to Whetung’s, there is just too much to see. Visiting the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival and then the three wonderful art gallery made for a very long and busy day. It was worth it, though, because we were able to visit with old friends, see some great art and travel through the spectacular Kawartha Lakes region!

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