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Wall of Art Gets Sweet!

by Katie Wilde


Need a little (Sweet!)ness in your life? The 5th quarterly installment of Wall of Art showcases some of the amazing talent of Guelph Arts Council members.

Wall of Art is a new exhibition program, developed in 2014 as a partnership between Guelph Arts Council, Guelph Civic Museum, and the City of Guelph’s cultural department in order to provide a regular (quarterly) opportunity to showcase some of the amazing talent represented in Guelph Arts Council's wide membership. Artists apply with an image and information about their work, are selected by a jury, and are paid a small artist fee to exhibit the selected work at a public museum (Guelph Civic Museum).

For the upcoming exhibition, we invited artists to explore all things Sweet! From confectionary to colloquialism, we'll look at the tender, the sugary, and the radically awesome. We are excited to introduce you to the artists and offer a sneak preview of the show.


This funky retro collage "Pop Culture" is by Desiree O, and will be the first piece she shows Guelph. Desiree O is a truly multidisciplinary artist, who works as a writer, musician, visual artist and actor. founder as well as writer/editor and community manager of Canada Arts Connect.


“Can You Tell this Story?” is a mixed media acrylic painting by Frances Hahn. Frances is a partner at Necessary Arts Company, an open studio for creatives in downtown Guelph, and is a sophisticated and subtle painter. She also does amazing work as a designer and textile artist.




“Tangled and Sweet” is a photograph by fibre-artist/photographer Heather Nagel. Her ‘ongoing adventure’ involves taking inspiration from nature and connecting to her subject through photography and artwork made from natural fibres -- often using her photography as a source.



What could be sweeter than the bond between brothers? “Brothers” and “Ice Cream” are two stunning works by Aberfoyle portrait artist Cindy Dochstader.  Cindy’s keen portraits convey the powerful bonds and poignant moments found in family life.


Digital images of Margot Jenner’s paper doll portraits don't quite do them justice. These unique pieces are drawn by hand on bristol paper, and coloured with copic markers. The dolls themselves are cutouts, placed on a separately drawn background. “Agatha at Work” is a portrait of Agatha from the Wes Anderson film “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, who makes sweets for a shop called Mendl's.


“Sweet Talking” is yet another beautifully composed image from photographer, songwriter, and self-described “grandfogger” Randy Sutherland. You can see more of his work on his blog, where he posts new and striking photographs almost daily.


This awesome image has an unusual twist. “Artichoke” is not simply a gorgeous photograph, but is printed on latex fabric stretched over a wood frame. Artist Katie Hebert is taking her ongoing series “The Beauty of Nourishment” to a new level with her experimentation with how the photographs are printed. We are very excited to see the result of the new latex fabric method of presentation.


We are very proud to present the work of our talented members at the fifth quarterly Wall of Art: “Sweet!”. The exhibition opens January 12, and will run until April 5. Reception to be held the evening of March's Fourth Friday, the 27th. Admission will be free that night (5:00 - 9:00 p.m.), and the artists (who are lovely, friendly people) will be present. Please come and enjoy refreshments, see the art, and meet the artists! If you can't make the reception, don't worry - the exhibition can be viewed during regular museum hours January 12 through April 5.

Why Become a Member?

by Katie Wilde

You may or may not know that we are a member-based organization. It is our members who make us who we are. If you a believer in, or even curious about the power of the arts, one way you can connect to the arts in your community is by becoming a member. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the membership coordination and the support that I offer members. I'm always pleased to answer a few questions about what it means to be a member of Guelph Arts Council. Here is what I've learned from our members and community members along the way.

(Short on time and want to skip to a section? Click on one:)

Who are our members?

What's in it for me?

What do I have to do?

What can I do?


Who are our members?

Our members are not just artists and those that are aren't just your quintessential painter-type either. They're authors, crafters, potters, builders, glassworkers, filmmakers, singers, musicians, storytellers, puppeteers, photographers, textile and fibre artists, actors, performers, printmakers, poets, art educators, curators, appraisers, and creative people of all kinds! They also are groups, charities, and businesses made up of passionate individuals who work to deliver the arts to our community in various ways.

Don't worry, we also have many fabulous painters too!


While painting en plein air is a wonderful art form, for the health of your artist body, we can't recommend the ergonomics of this sitting position. 

Our members are long time theatre-goers, followers of local art news, and attendees of exhibitions, events, and sales. They are also people who believe that the arts community is at the heart of who we are and what defines our city. In addition, our members are great people who support the arts council and our efforts simply through their annual membership to our organization.


What's in it for me?

Stay informed on local opportunities - posted online and in the office. You can also call, visit or email if you're looking for something specific. We'll direct you to the right opportunity whenever we can.

Promotional avenues - The sleek profiles in our member directory show a snapshot of your artistic efforts and can either direct people to your website or offer an interim online presence. Post your events on the calendar any time, and in our e-news once a month. Boost the visibility of your event on our calendar and advertise yourself in the sidebar with our new affordable artist advertising program (to be launched in 2015). Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and send us a message asking us to follow you. Tag us in your art posts and we will share them. People from the community regularly call us looking for artists and groups. Make sure we know about you and what you do so we can recommend you to them!

Find artists and arts groups - Get inspired, make friends, join a group, buy art, attend!

Artist Members are eligible to apply for our members' juried exhibition, Wall of Art.

Discounts - Members are eligible to receive discounts on events like to Art on the Street, workshops, and conferences. We also offer discounted membership advertising rates on our website. Organizational Members with a membership of their own can ask for a discount code to pass on to their members, who will receive 10% off an Artist Membership.

Consultations with staff - Not sure what the next step in your artistic career should be? There are so many aspects to being an artist. From your ongoing education to pursuing grants or turning your art into a business, we can help you break down the vastness of opportunities and obstacles into manageable goals and areas of focus for what YOU want to get out of your art.

Help transitioning to an online presence - Not so comfortable with computers? Find the thought of having to make your own website a bit overwhelming? While our profile pages aren’t meant to replace a website, they can be an excellent start to having an online presence. Low maintenance, you have 24/7 access to update and change it, but will also receive personalized assistance during office hours if you have any difficulties. We also offer an initial set-up/training session for those whose comfort with technology is still in the growing stages.

Discover or rediscover your creative city - Whether you’re new to town or a born and raised Guelphite, we bet there are yet unknown artistic treasures hidden in Guelph for you. Let us help you discover them!

Vote at our Annual General Meeting - When we ask you to add your voice to ours, we mean it! We are a membership-based organization and we are proud to represent you.


What do I have to do?

Support us with a membership fee of $5 (General), $30 (Artist), or $50 (Organization), once per year. Nothing else. There are no mandatory meetings, events, or volunteer hours.


What CAN I do?

We love showing you off to others! Invest in us, so we can invest in you. Make the most of your membership by taking advantage of what's in it for you. We encourage you to attend our in-person social events, ask us how we can help you promote your artistic exploits, set aside a time to chat with us about your activities or goals, and let us direct you to some opportunities. You can even volunteer with us or donate. How involved you become is up to you.


We're proud to represent you and we can't wait to get to know you!

Become a member now by clicking here.

Exploring Guelph's Public Art

by Meaghan Griffin

On a foggy afternoon in December, I hit the streets of downtown Guelph armed with a map from Guelph Arts Council of our public art works. The reason? While most people understand that public art enlivens our urban landscape and highlights our heritage, it's not often that we take time out of our busy lives to step into the shoes of tourists and drink in the sites in such an intentional way. While there has been a lot of attention recently about our newest public art installation – four sculptures in the Civic Precinct by Ted Fullerton – I thought it might be nice to draw our attention back in time to celebrate a few more of the many works the City has to offer.

Interested in what I found? Follow along using this self-guided tour, or come up with a tour of your own by browsing the Culture Map.

John Galt Bust

Perhaps the most obvious place to start on a tour of this kind is at the doorstep of the beautifully re-designed Guelph City Hall. Toward the intersection of Carden and Wyndham Streets you’ll find the first stop on my tour – the bronze bust of Guelph’s founder, John Galt. Galt came to Canada as the superintendent of the Canada Company and felled a maple tree at the bend in the Speed River, just a stone’s throw away from this statue. If you look closely, you can see that Galt’s right hand is turned skyward, a symbol of his inspiration for the radial design of the future city, emanating from the site where that first maple came to rest.


Blacksmith Fountain

Next, I headed northeast on Macdonell to find the oldest piece of public art in Guelph. Recently restored, the Blacksmith Fountain was first erected in 1885 as a tribute to industry in Guelph. The donor was J. B. Armstrong, a businessman and manufacturer who, by the 1870s, dominated much of Guelph’s industrial and civic development. Originally situated at the heart of St. George’s square, the Blacksmith has since been relocated to a quiet but significant corner of downtown, overlooking the site where John Galt’s maple fell.


Family Fountain

Next on the tour is the Family Fountain that now anchors St. George’s Square. Though this sculpture is presently recognized as a quintessential piece of downtown Guelph, it initially caused quite a storm among several conservative religious groups who objected to the figures’ lack of clothing when it was first introduced to the public in the mid-1980s. The bronze statue depicting life-sized nudes of a nuclear family was created by unapologetic Hamilton artist William McElcheran. The funds for the piece were raised by citizens at the suggestion of the Italian-Canadian community. Moving beyond the controversy that initially shrouded this piece, it can now be appreciated as a physical representation that families are at the heart of this community. To me it is a celebration of how families have made Guelph the unique, caring and resilient community it is today.


The Glass Quilt

Through the doors and up the stairs of Old Quebec Street is where you’ll find the next piece on the tour. The Glass Quilt hangs from the ceiling above a cut-out in the upper level of the mall. The piece was made by members of the Glass Guild of Guelph to commemorate the city’s 175th anniversary, and is really a patchwork of some of our most unique attributes. Covered bridges, fields of poppies, University of Guelph’s Johnston Hall, the Church of Our Lady Immaculate (now also designated a Basilica), and even the Family Fountain are all illuminated on the quilt.



After taking a close look at some of Guelph’s most renowned public heritage and art pieces, I meandered down to the River Run Centre, where the giant copper wall by Guelph sculptor Peter Johnston is housed. This was the first time I had ever really stopped to examine this piece for any length of time, and I don’t think I can stress enough that it does not do this complex work justice to shuffle past during the intermission of a performance. This work deserves a spotlight of its own. In fact, after examining the piece for about 10 minutes, a kind staff member of the River Run Centre switched on the red spotlight specifically for that purpose. While there is much to say about this piece, perhaps the best part of it is the sense of discovery that comes with recognizing all the pieces of Guelph, present and past that become connected through this work.


Time Line/Water Line

When I could finally pull myself away from Passages, I headed along the trail of John Galt Park along the riverside to the last stop on my tour. Time Line/Water Line was a work of the millennium, created to capture the stories, images and keepsakes from Guelph’s more recent history. If Passages was a thread weaving all these pieces of history together, Time Line/Water Line is the needle searching for what’s next. The canoe, a vessel that has been synonymous with the identity of the peoples of this land since before Canada was founded, is the vessel that will carry these relics into the future. It boldly asks what the future will hold for this city, how our stories will shape it, and directs our attention back to our life source: the bend in the Speed River from which this city was created.


With ideas of future Guelph afloat in my imagination, I called up Sally Wismer, Chair of the Public Art Committee that spearheaded the Ted Fullerton commission earlier this year. When asked what’s in store for the future of public art in Guelph, she replied, “Public art enhances and animates our cityscape, and my hope is that we’ll see more works added to the public art inventory. Certainly the City’s new Public Art Advisory Committee will be working towards this end in the days and years ahead.”

A hopeful future indeed for Guelph’s public art collection.

Want to learn more about public art in Guelph?

It’s worth mentioning that there is also more public art around the city that I haven’t detailed here - both within and outside of the downtown core. You might want to check out the great Donald Forster Sculpture Park at Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, or the monuments at the Woodlawn Cemetery and Riverside Park, as well as some hidden treasures such as alleyway murals and privately owned sculptures on the lawns of artists and art lovers.

In the warmer months, the Guelph Arts Council also offers Historical Walking Tours of Guelph, and these often include some of Guelph's public art treasures. Stay tuned for more details on these in spring 2015.

Three Recipients Named for the 2014 Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Award

By: Sally Wismer

Guelph Arts Council is pleased to announce that the 2014 Youth Opportunities Award will be shared among three of this year’s applicants who will offer three quite diverse opportunities for children and youth in Guelph and Wellington County to become in engaged in the arts. The recipients are 21-year-old aspiring artist Nathan Gatten in partnership with established portrait painter Meredith Blackmore, both Fergus residents; the Children’s Art Factory led by Guelph installation artist Melissa Mazar; and Guelph Film Festival.

Nathan and Meredith have requested support for a series of free "Try-It" workshops targeted to youth aged 14 to 24 years. These workshops will offer introductory sessions in different media, followed by two sessions with a teacher/mentor. Nathan, whose formal learning has been limited by autism and mitochondrial disease, wants to offer others of his age group the opportunity to experience free arts-based learning and the chance to work with a mentor. Having himself discovered and become engaged in art through the mentorship provided by Meredith, he will now be working with her in the planning and preparation of the workshops as well as assisting with the delivery as he is able. He will introduce sessions and talk about his experience with mentorship. The workshops will take place at Meredith's recently-established STUDIOHERE in Fergus.

The Children's Art Factory has requested support for a collaborative between Melissa Mazar and Guelph youth that will see children engaged in the creation of a piece of "meaningful public art" to be permanently displayed on the side of the building where the Children's Art Factory is located. The art piece will be a moving sculpture of wooden gears and cogs that can be controlled by handles strategically placed close to the ground. The cogs and gears will be available to be painted during the Children's Art Festival at Art on the Street in July 2015. In keeping with Melissa's artistic practice at the Children's Art Factory, there will be no instruction at this event, allowing children to be partners in the art process, to express their own voices, and to "discover the magic and fun of painting."

Guelph Film Festival has requested support for "iCan Make Films," a workshop for teens aged 14 to 18, with a focus on using accessible smart phone and tablet technology to "create innovative, 'guerilla-style' documentary films." The intent is to engage youth to use everyday technology (that they already carry in their pockets) and encourage them to tell stories from their own unique perspective. In the process, the hope is that youth will "find themselves empowered and working without limitation." The workshop will be offered as part of the 2015 Guelph Film Festival and will build on a very successful youth workshop offered during the 2013 festival.

Both Guelph Arts Council and the 2014 jury panel were extremely pleased with the innovative ideas from and the diversity represented by all of this year's applicants for the 2014 Youth Opportunities Award. Included were both young artists and local arts organizations across a wide spectrum of different disciplines, with offerings for several different youth age groups.

Established in 2009 to take the place of a previous youth awards program dating back to 1982, the Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Award is intended to encourage programs that will initiate, enhance or expand opportunities for children and youth in Guelph and Wellington County to experience or become in engaged in the arts. Funds for the award come from the Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Fund managed by the Guelph Community Foundation.

For more information about the award program, contact Guelph Arts Council at (519) 836-3280 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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