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Prince Edward County Studio & Gallery Tour

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Our Tour Started…

It was a sunny warm Friday morning and we were off to the Prince Edward County Studio and Gallery Tour. Our friends Mia and Robert Lane, at the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival, had suggested we take in the tour and gave us a Tour Guide to help us find our way. Mia is an internationally collected artist specializing in portraits of man’s best friend. The Studio Tour is spread across Prince Edward County. There are 39 locations to visit featuring about 60 artists. When we started out it was intension to try and visit all locations. As it turned out that would have been a Herculean task. There just too many interesting artists to talk to and artwork to admire. For us, the Tour started in Carrying Place. Our first stop was at the home gallery of Marion Casson. Marion is both a fibre artist and painter. He work is scattered about her home. Outside in the yard Ali Ross and Glenn Gangier had set up a display of their colourful pottery. We talked some time to Ali about her work and about other tours and shows she was involved in. Our second stop was at the home studio of Florence Chik-Lau. Florence is a Ceramic Animal Sculptor creating whimsical that bring beauty, warmth and humour to the viewer. From Florence’s we headed back to Carrying Place and turned left onto the Loyalist Parkway. Our next destination, Wellington…

The Loyalist Parkway…

Wellington is a beautiful little community located on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario. It has an active retirement and quaint downtown. Our first stop was Wellington Pottery. Three artisans were featured here, potters Maggie Murdoch and David Drown and Guest Artist, jewellery designer Elaine Wigle-Kratz. The pottery shop is located in a separate building behind the main house. Entering the building was like entering another world. The pottery on display was magnificent. The colours and design of the pottery was both unique and intricate. Just down the road was artist Margaret McFetridge. We knew we had arrived at her home gallery because there was a huge floral painting set up on her front lawn. We walked down the side of her home to her studio that was set up at the back of her property. Margaret was busy talking with a customer when we arrive, so we looked around on our own. The large floral painting blended in perfectly with the country setting. When Margaret was finished with her customer we complimented her on her work and took a photograph of her in front of her studio. The final artist visited in Wellington was glassblower Mark Armstrong of Armstrong Glassworks. Unfortunately Mark was in the process of renovating his studio, so was unable to demonstrate the glassblowing process. We toured his showroom admiring the colour and design of his creations. Mark is an award winning artisan who we hope to revisit when he is fully operational. Back on the Parkway, we drove toward Bloomfield…

Bloomfield and On…

Bloomfield is another beautiful Loyalist Parkway village. It has a picturesque downtown with charming shops. Our first stop was on the main street at Elements Glass studio. Just outside the shop guest artist, Bruce Milan has set up his handmade ironwork. Bruce’s imaginative ironwork lined the sidewalk leading to the glass studio. Inside the studio stained glass art fill the walls and tables. Upstairs there is more on the same, wonderful stained glass pieces with vibrant colours and unique designs. The store is called Elements Glass Studio and Gallery and the owner of the gallery/studio is Caroline Shuttle. Our next stop was just a little off the main street. It was the aboutface Gallery and Studio owned by Cynthia McMillan. Walking into the store is an experience in itself. The walls are covered with whimsical one of a kind fairies, elves, angels and Santas. Cynthia’s techniques are simple, but very creative. We left Bloomfield headed out into the country. We traveled the back roads of Prince Edward County and finally located the Mad Dog Gallery. This is a scenic out-of-the-way gallery with several artists’ work hanging on their walls, Each day the Studio Tour starts at 10:00 AM and ends at 5:00 PM. It was mid-afternoon when we left the Mad Dog Gallery and we wanted to see as much of the Prince Edward County Studio Tour as possible. With this in mind, we set out for Picton…

The Final Four

When we reached Picton there wasn’t much time left for the tour. Our first stop took us to a building just off the main street. This were photographer Peggy deWitt has her Gallery, Paper Images. Throughout the Gallery the walls are lined with creative images produced by Peggy. We talked with Peggy for some time about her photography and about a program she started a while ago. It’s called “Tampered With”. Even though her work is copyrighted, for the last few years Peggy has invited artists to interrupt her photographs in their own way. Once all the art is accumulated, a “Tampered With Show” featuring all the art interpretations is held. According to Peggy’s website, 27 artists participated last year. Our next artist was Aidan Haley. As we drove up to Aidan’s home, he was on the front grass painting. He invited us to take a look inside his home/studio. We were greeted by his wife at the front door. She introduced herself and told us Aidan’s gallery was upstairs. We followed the art to the second floor and were again greeted, this time by Aidan’s son. It wasn’t hard to see the warmth in both Aidan’s paintings and his family. You could see the son’s pride as he spoke about his father and his work. As we left Aidan was laying on the ground fast asleep with his arm around the family dog. Studio Tours are long and can be very draining! Just down the street was woodcarver, sculptor Ron Parlane. The door to his home was open so we walked in. From the back Ron’s wife came to greet us. She told us Ron was in his workshop and that we could go and see him once we were through looking at his work in the house. Ron’s carvings featured a variety of shore birds. When we were through inside, we walked to the back studio and looked inside. Ron was sitting in his rocking chair, fast asleep. We back out of the room very quietly and left him in peace. I guess, he too, had had a long tiring day.

It was almost 5:00 PM, but we decided to take a chance and visit one more studio. Riccaro Jewellery is located at the east end of downtown Picton. The studio/gallery is owned and operated by Carol Burrill and her husband Rick. Their shop is filled with Carol’s designs and creations, each more tempting them the other. Judi had a field day exploring all the jewellery! We were the last visitors, so we had the opportunity to stop and talk with this interesting couple. Rick told us he was just the “Go For” and that Carol had all the genius. I believed him! They invited us to see their production studio and showed us the design and manufacturing process. I asked Carol how she and Rick became jewellers. She told that for years she and Rick had run a variety store and ice cream parlour out of the same building we were now standing in and that creating and designing jewellery had been just a hobby. Now, with the building converted, the jewellery business was thriving. After all, life is just one big Hobby! Who knows, maybe some day Judi will be wearing one of Carol’s designs. I must say we had a great day exploring the Prince Edward County Studio and Gallery Tour. There were a lot we missed, but there is always next year. 

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