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Current events from our area for August 2014




Limberlost studio weekend grows

Even more artists are showing their work at the Limberlost Open Studio Weekend on Aug. 16 and 17.  Two new studios join the tour this year, making a total of 25 artists and craftspeople exhibiting their work.

The Limberlost Road has been home to creative people for decades.  Amidst the area’s rugged landscape and scenic lakes, artists and craftspeople have settled and established studios for painting, sculpting, wood turning and glasswork in this quiet corner of Muskoka.  The annual Open Studio Weekend, popular with residents, cottagers and tourists alike, is a unique opportunity for the public to meet the artists, see where they work and to find inspired art and craft to take home.

Matt Coles and Neil Jefferson are new to the tour this year, and both artists have very different styles. Coles is an “en plein air” artist, meaning he paints directly on location rather than from photo reference. Born in North Bay, Coles now resides in Huntsville, painting the Canadian landscape with a signature style; contrastive colours with sharp, sometimes wild outlines, which expose the underlying board or canvas.

 Neil Jefferson is originally from New Zealand and now lives on Pells Lake.  Visitors on the tour are sure to be impressed with Jefferson’s creative vision, expressed primarily in acrylic abstract paintings.  His work is fresh and bold, sometimes venturing into the realm of sculptural wall art.

They join existing members: egg tempera landscape painter Catherine O’Mara, Jeff Miller’s expressive landscapes in oil and acrylic, Mark Kulas with stylized animal paintings in a unique blending of Polish decorative art with Woodland art, Susan Higgins who makes distinctive kiln-fired art glass panels, plates and bowls, woodturner Brian Markham who makes bowls and platters from local and exotic wood burls, Jerry Friedman who crafts sculpture from driftwood, and bronze sculptor Brenda Wainman Goulet, creator of the iconic Tom Thomson sculpture in downtown Huntsville.

“Most of us don’t actually demonstrate our art/craft during the tour,” explains artist Susan Higgins. “It’s too noisy, messy, dangerous, etc.” She adds the primary attraction for most visitors on a studio tour is meeting the artists and talking to them about their work.

“They see our space, our environment, our equipment, get a taste of our lifestyle, feel a connection with us as ‘makers.

Instead, the artists share their experience and often illustrate how things are made.  Higgins has work in various stages of completion for example.  “Of particular interest is often the accidents that I display - things that went wrong in the kiln!” she says. “Actually working requires focus and then nobody can talk to you.

Limberlost Road is about 10 minutes east of Huntsville along Highway 60.  From there, signs guide visitors to the studios. Information cards can be found at www.artistofthelimberlost.ca. There is no charge to attend the event.

The artists meet a few hundred people each day. “It’s an adventurous day for them, exploring the backwoods, enjoying the vistas  and appreciating creative people and the things they make,” she says. “People often share insights and observations about my work that never occurred to me.  It’s a happy, but exhausting time for the artists, who often spend a lot of time working in solitude. And it gets the studio cleaned up at least once a year!”

Jump for Ooch

Water-ski jumpers will be garnering some oohs and ahhs as they raise money for Camp Oochigeas.

The ninth annual fundraiser for Camp Ooch takes place on Saturday, Aug. 9 at Clevelands House:

The KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, in conjunction with Summer Water Sports (SWS), presents the annual Jump for Ooch fundraiser. 

SWS is preparing a new and even more exciting show for this year.  Imagine a four-tier pyramid, bare footing, wake boarding, slalom skiing and swivel board all behind one boat! It’s quite a spectacle to see!

Always trying to break their personal best, SWS will also try to outdo their 10-man barefoot skiing record and perform even more difficult stunts on the flyboard.  This will surely delight the crowd and wow even the hardest family member to please. 

The complimentary family barbecue takes place at 4 p.m on the beach and the ski show will begin to 5 p.m. And though the event and barbecue are free, those in attendance should not come with empty pockets. There will be draws held and a silent auction with some terrific items to bid on including golf and a weekend stay at Clevelands House. The event will take place, rain or shine.

KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation’s goal is to send 100 children to Camp Oochigeas this summer. “Each year, the amount raised has increased. This is our ninth year and we are proud to have raised $450,000,” says Steven Wise, chairman of the foundation. 

Jump for Ooch change donation boxes will be available at some stores in the Port Carling area. Larger donations can be made directly on the KRG web site, kids.krg.com. or www.jumpforooch.ca

The tremendous outpouring of community support makes this event grow bigger and better every year.

HFA offers even more in August

This August, Huntsville Festival of the Arts brings traditional weekend and Thursday evening concerts in the theatre, featuring Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, Michael Kaeshammer, the Japanese drum troupe Nagata Shachu, Justin Rutledge, Johannes Linstead, Lighthouse, Brett Kissel and Alyssa Reid.

But summer’s second full month will also take the Festival outside the usual box.

Traditionally a July festival, the Huntsville Festival of the Arts expanded to all year when the Algonquin Theatre opened, giving them the opportunity to put on shows in all seasons.

On Aug. 3, there will be an outdoor music day at River Mill Park, celebrating jazz and contemporary music. “It’s an impromptu event,” says Festival general manager Rob Saunders, who has lined up Doug Banwell and the Muskoka Jazz Guys. Other acts are still being finalized.

“We’re featuring local musicians doing half-hour to 45-minute sets,” says  Saunders, who will MC the event. “It’s sponsored by TD Canada Trust as part of their overall jazz sponsorship.” Admission is free so all you have to bring is a lawn chair. It’ll run from noon to 4 p.m., rain or shine.

HFA is also teaming up with local cineaste organizers Reel Alternatives for a double-bill Monday at the Movies presentation in the theatre on Aug. 11. These are two films you’re probably not going to see in commercial theatres, and both focus on people with secret obsessions related to matters photographic.

Finding Vivian Maier is a documentary about a secretive woman known only as a nanny during her lifetime – but after death and the discovery of her stored cache of 100,000 photographs in 2007, became recognized as one of the 20th century’s greatest street photographers, featured in exhibitions worldwide.

Tim’s Vermeer is about American inventor and digital video pioneer Tim Jenison’s ongoing fascination with the method of Dutch Renaissance master Johannes Vermeer. Convinced that the painter must have used optical equipment to create his photo-realistic works, and knowing this theory would be controversial, Jenison set off on a five-year quest to prove it by redesigning the equipment and replicating one of his most famous paintings.

Screenings commence at 7 p.m.



Two antique boat shows in August

Those who missed the Gravenhurst show have two more opportunities to see some antique and classic boats this summer.

The Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) boat show, which runs every two years,  returns on Aug. 9 in Port Carling. A unique collection of boats, some of which are seldom seen, at shows are invited to this event. 

The Lake of Bays Antique and Classic Boat and Car Show is back in beautiful downtown Baysville on Aug. 17.

The MLA event transforms both sides of the locks in Port Carling with the finest sampling of boats to represent the show theme of the Era of Elegance.  There will be a fine selection of Disappearing Propeller Boats and the Dispro Owners Association will be on hand. They are warming up for the 100th anniversary of the Dippy next year.

The Muskoka Heritage awards are also presented in the afternoon in the VIP tent set up on the island for exhibitors.

The MLA show is completely free to spectators and exhibitors.

In addition to wooden boats, a rare collection of vintage Buick automobiles will line up along Lock Street for the Saturday event.

For the Lake of Bays show, the SS Bigwin will be in attendance. One can step on board and admire 100 years of history. 

The boat show will feature some of Lake of Bays most beautiful antique and classic boats.

Enjoy the harmonizing sounds of the Northern Lights Steel Orchestra Band. Take a walk along the main drag and see some of Ontario’s finest antique and classic cars. 

At 4 p.m., the procession of boats will leave to the sound of the bagpipes played by piper Sharon Mace. All this takes place on Sunday, Aug. 17 from noon to 4 p.m.  Admission is by donation and all the proceeds go the Baysville Food Bank.

New York organist has Muskoka roots

The August Organ noon-hour recital series returns to Trinity United Church in Gravenhurst on Thursdays this month with an expanded lineup featuring Bracebridge native Ryan Jackson, organist and director of music at New York City’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

The series wraps up its sophomore year with a Friday evening extravaganza on July 29 of ragtime music and silent film, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin films with Jack Hutton and some talented local young musicians.

Organizer and Trinity United music director Dan McCoy built on last year’s success to attract players like Jackson and Hutton. The August Organ was first conceived following the extensive refurbishment of the church’s renowned Casavant organ five years ago to showcase its incredible voice.

“I chose the infinity symbol for the concerts because people get a glimpse into the higher realm through music,” McCoy says.

With praise for the inaugural season’s top-notch players last year, McCoy promises “everything is going to be even bigger and better this year.” One returning player, Alison Clark – organist at Trinity United in Kitchener – will be joined by her husband Ian this year. Ian was the organist for the Toronto Maple Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens through much of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The couple kicks off the 2014 August Organ on Thursday, Aug. 7 at 12:15 pm. Blair Bailey, organist from St. Paul’s United in Orillia, plays Aug. 21, accompanied by William Wei on piano; and Francine Nguyen-Savaria from St. Thomas Anglican in Belleville plays Aug. 28.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful that Dan has started an organ recital series in Muskoka,” says Ryan Jackson. “It’s such a pleasure for me always to come home and play for people.” Jackson, who earned his master’s at Yale and doctorate from Juilliard after graduating from the University of Toronto previously has returned to Muskoka to play the digital organ at Bracebridge’s Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre.

“There’s nothing like playing on a real acoustic pipe organ though, and the restoration work that Dean Perry did at Trinity has resulted in one of the finest instruments north of Toronto. I’m really excited to explore all its colours again,” Jackson says. “It’s always nice to come home to see family and friends. Muskoka is never far from my heart, and living in Manhattan I always say I can never wait to get home.” Jackson plays Aug. 14 from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Showcasing Muskoka’s Musical memories

Explore Muskoka’s musical past at Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre in Gravenhurst.

Musical Memories of Muskoka is an exhibit which features the history of bands and musicians who have performed in Muskoka from as far back as the 1920s.

A frequent venue was Dunn’s Pavilion, which opened in 1942 in Bala and is known today as The Kee to Bala. Dunn’s Pavilion, soda bar and gas bar are recreated at the exhibition, which is titled Musical Memories Of Muskoka and can be seen at the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre in Gravenhurst until the end of October. 

“We are bringing the era of big bands to life,” says Sarah Small of the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre. “We have a variety of items here including memorabilia of musician Guy Lombardo, which were given to us on loan for this exhibition from the museum in London (Ontario).”

Louis Armstrong, The Dorsey Brothers and Duke Ellington have all showcased their talent on Muskoka’s stages. Another impressive aspect of the exhibit is an interactive table where the visitor can read articles, see photos and listen to music by touching the screen – just like on an oversized tablet computer. 

Todays’ acts at The Kee to Bala, including Blue Rodeo, Chubby Checker, The Tragically Hip, Kim Mitchell and Tom Cochrane are also featured in a display. 

Musical Memories of Muskoka – Where All Of Muskoka Dances will be featured at Muskoka Boat and Heritage Centre daily from June 20 until Oct. 30.

Wakestock returns

The Wakestock World Series, a wakeboarding event with competitors from all over the world, returns to its roots.  The popular sports and music festival is in Bala from Aug. 8 to 10. 

“We are extremely happy to have Wakestock back where it started,” says Ryan Bush, owner of Bush’s Sports Centre in Bala. 

Bush will host the wakeboarding events at the new What Wake Park at his Sports Centre. “We want to take advantage of the opportunity to host such an event. This will be good for the whole region, it’s a good thing for everyone around here.

Wakestock attracts many of the best professional wakeboarders from around the world, as well as the top amateur wakeboarders. Bush expects about 300 wakeboarders to take part in this competition. Related music events will take place at The Kee to Bala.

ChautauquaFest   is 10-days of fun

 An eclectic itinerary of 20 events is being unveiled for ChautauquaFest, a new 10-day celebration of arts and culture taking place in Muskoka between Aug.14 to 23. 

Among the festival’s many attractions are an appearance by Emmy Award-winning journalist Rolland G. Smith, a global, peace-themed origami project, a performance by the acclaimed Toronto All Star Big Band, a waterfront concert, and painting workshops with accredited artists.

While Muskoka already plays host to a variety of artistic shows and events, Muskoka Chautauqua Festival development director Gayle Dempsey says, “ChautauquaFest’s distinguishing feature is its interdisciplinary focus. ChautauquaFest is not just a single art show, concert or play. It is a week-long festival that brings all these events and more together, exposing visitors to experiences that encompass the visual, dramatic, literary and musical arts. Participating visitors can customize their experiences by choosing individual events, or they may simply let the flow of creativity take them to a variety of artistic and cultural mediums they haven’t tried or experienced before.

Spearheaded by Muskoka Chautauqua, the festival includes a number of participating organizations, including Music on the Barge, the international Peace Crane Project, Be My Guest, Brandy Creek Music and Publications and the Actors’ Colony Theatre.

ChautauquaFest’s full programming schedule is now available in a media information package, which can be downloaded by visiting www.muskokachautauqua.ca. 

 “Some of the events have a history in Muskoka and a loyal following, but others are brand new additions to Muskoka,” said Dempsey. “Some are meant to attract an audience, while others encourage participants to roll up their sleeves and try something new. In all cases, this is a chance for artists and non-artists alike to meld, mingle and learn new things from one another.” 

Furnish the cottage

Pine furniture, pressed glass and estate jewelry are just a few of the popular items at the Bracebridge Antique Sale.

The show, on Aug. 22, 23 and 24, has been running in the community for 31 years and this year returns to the Bracebridge Fairgrounds on Fraserburg Road.

“This is the 12th year I’ve been involved,” says Bill Gerbrandt, show organizer. “Customers come back each year because they know they can buy the best stuff here.

Most vendors return each year too. “They see the same customers coming back,” he says. Each year there are about six new vendors but most are veterans.

Gerbrandt promises the show will have something to interest just about everyone.

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