34th Annual Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour
NEWS | Oct 09, 2017 | Orillia Packet and Times
For 34 years, Thanksgiving weekend has been an art lover’s paradise in and around Orillia.
The Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour showcased 30 artists throughout the city and in Severn and Oro-Medonte townships at 21 studios. It allowed visitors a chance to explore the working habitats of many of the artists, including Tony Bianco, who has been a tour staple for 25 years.
That’s the way it should be, he said.
“A lot of times … people don’t know how (art) is made; they don’t know where it’s made,” Bianco said. “(On the tour) they can actually see how it’s made, they can talk to the artist about how it gets created, and it’s much more of a hands-on experience.”
Bianco and Tom Conaty built the new working studio near Warminster in the past year. It’s not usually open to the public, but on the Images weekend, Bianco is eager to peel back the curtain and engage with new and old friends alike, in a less-sterile environment than what can often be found in a commercial gallery setting.
During the tour this year, Bianco had a work in progress on display. His goal, he said, was to get more work done during the weekend, but the steady stream of traffic curtailed that idea.
Still, a considerable amount of work had been done to what looked like another stunning landscape portrait. But just what the artwork was communicating won’t be unveiled until people get to explore the finished product.
“Any painting is basically telling a story, communicating an idea,” Bianco said. “The methods of communicating the idea, in painting, are using abstract shapes and colours. It’s an illusion; I put together abstract shapes and colours and values to trigger your mind to think of something.”
Those illusions were easy to find throughout the tour, from Moonstone to Hawkestone and Sugarbush to Orchard Point. Around the corner from Bianco in Warminster, Kathryn Kaiser was set up in Marchmont, showcasing some of her traditional works, on both canvas and greeting cards, as well as some of her newest work.
Two of Kaiser’s paintings were scenes from the early 20th century, recreated from photographs found in the family home. She went to Western Canada twice this year, following the death of her father. Her mother wanted a collection of old boxes taken away, but soon the focus was on the old family photographs in those boxes.
Kaiser’s mother started talking about perhaps getting some of the photos refurbished; Kaiser was quick to volunteer her own unique method of making sure those pictures remained treasured memories for years to come.
“I love the old stories,” Kaiser said. “To me, doing this … personalizes it for everyone, not just me. It also is going to last a lot longer than photos will. Photos always fade; you have to have them under glass. I would love to do more of these.”
Kaiser had two copies of two vintage family photographs, featuring her grandmother, on display below the canvas reinterpretations of what had been printed on the paper. The paintings may not have the fine facial details so readily available in a photograph, but they more than make up for that in the vibrancy of the colour used in Kaiser’s retelling of the moment.
Beyond her own family collection, she hopes to be able to do more of this work as commissioned pieces. These will be different from the regular, commissioned pieces she does, but she remains ready for any challenges.
“Commissions are difficult because people have an expectation of what they might look like and then I see something totally different,” Kaiser said. “Somehow, as creative people, we pick up things that people might not see.”