by Patti Broughton and Erica Gatten

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that one of the award recipients was Ed Video. This should have been Guelph Film Festival and has been updated.

Nathan Gatten wants youth to discover the value of arts mentorship within our community. To that end he applied for the Guelph Arts Council Youth Opportunities Award, which he was honoured to receive, along with Guelph Film Festival and The Children’s Art Factory, in December 2014.

The award made possible an enriching new series of free “Try-It” arts workshops for Guelph-Wellington youth with mentoring by Frances Hahn and Taylar Dobbie at STUDIOHERE in Fergus.

Each aspiring artist (aged 15 to 23) approached the mentorship with very specific, personal goals. Mentors Frances Hahn and Taylar Dobbie listened carefully, honouring these goals and presenting new opportunities. They expanded on skills in teaching sessions, then supplied each with one-to-one mentoring, arts materials for their individual projects as well as resources for related upcoming events to support and inspire each artist in continuing on their paths. Nathan spoke of his personal experiences with mentorship to the group and how it helped him grow as an artist and become a part of the arts community.

Based in Fergus, Nathan is an artist with strong roots in the Guelph-Wellington arts community. When a rare metabolic condition and autism spectrum limited his access to formal education, he discovered he was surrounded by a community rich with artistic mentorship opportunities. Artist friend and mentor Meredith Blackmore introduced Nathan to oil paint in 2010 and he found an open and evolving freedom in colour. His oil paintings encompass a wide range of subjects including beloved pets and Canadian wildlife, pop cultural icons, current events, and some near and distant landscapes. Nathan is excited to explore the merging of art and science in his new celestial series based on Hubble photographs.

Through his work with community mentors, Nathan has been able to connect with others by sharing his art in local cafés, businesses, public spaces and homes across Canada and the U.S. He encourages those feeling limited and isolated to continue to find ways to reach out with hope and creativity.

In order to thank those involved in the GAC Youth Opportunities Award project, Nathan was inspired to inquire about taking out an ad in the Wellington Advertiser. Rather than take his money, the paper recognized Nathan’s success as a great story, and featured a story and article in the paper:

Nathan extends special thanks to the Guelph Arts Council and project partner and friend Meredith Blackmore and STUDIOHERE in Fergus, for their generous support and dedicated efforts. Meredith’s mentorship set him on his path and inspired his vision for this project.

He also gratefully acknowledges Judith Rosenberg for her ongoing faith and confidence as well as his family, 10 Carden and all who create possibilities for a more diverse, vibrant and resilient arts community. He hopes to support more unique opportunities for arts mentorship and shared experiences within his community in 2015.

Nathan Gatten’s art may be seen at the Eden Mills Arts Festival May 23 & 24 (11am – 5pm) along with a showcase of many other visual artists, and dance and musical performances. Free admission.

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