It is with great sadness that we recognize the recent passing of Beryl Dawson. In addition to being a multi-talented artist herself, Beryl owned and operated Wellington Artists’ Gallery and Art Centre with passion and dedication. There, she fueled and inspired local artists while making their work available to the wider community.
Beryl was a latecomer to art, discovering a hidden talent through art lessons, which then burgeoned into a dream to open her own art gallery after she retired.
Former Executive Director of Guelph Arts Council, Sally Wismer, communicated regularly with Beryl Dawson at the time she was setting up the Wellington Artists Gallery in 2008. “I can certainly attest to her determination and her commitment to providing exhibition space and other opportunities for local artists. She put her heart and soul into this successful gallery venture,” Sally shared.
Uta Strelive, a longtime member of Wellington Artists Gallery (WAG), met Beryl through a call for submissions for the new gallery. Of Beryl, Uta says, “She was a person I can only describe as the most energetic, fair, and kind, but very strong at the same time. She was an incredible leader to us and what she did for all the members – it was mind boggling how hard she worked and what she did behind the scenes. We miss her so much and we realize now how much work there was we didn’t even know about.”
WAG was impressively active, with a different themed exhibition every month. The lower floor of gallery is dedicated to the monthly shows, featuring a range of talent, from individual artists and groups to homeschooled kids in the neighborhood who had no other venue to show their work
Beryl promoted and encouraged artists whenever she could, even when they were just starting out and maybe didn’t have a lot of faith in themselves as artists just yet. According to Uta, this had a profound influence on those involved, “and people got better and wanted to work harder.”
Beryl passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 9, after a short battle with cancer. She asked that the gallery be kept open and running and the gallery members have come together to keep the dream alive. John McGill was kind enough to respond to our inquiries about the future of the gallery, saying, “We are in the process of re-organizing the Wellington Artists’ Gallery and trying to fill the huge void left by Beryl. It will be a challenging year ahead, but we are working hard to ensure that the gallery continues on the way Beryl wanted it to. We have a great group of members who are determined to see this happen.”
The gallery’s 2014 season is drawing to a close, but we hope you will continue to support the continuing efforts of Wellington Artists’ Gallery, and the legacy of this amazing woman.