By MAGGIE M, Wedgee-in-Chief, Editor, theWedge.LIVE 🍎 TO SHARE click on icons at story’s end. TO SUBSCRIBE go to top-right column. TO COMMENT click text upper-right of story.
Pierre Giroux grabbed me by my eyes and pulled me into his rooms. There were no beds, no televisions, no appliances–just the odd ornate empty chair, sometimes two, bare tables and a scattering of decay strewn on the floor. Streams of light poke through open windows and doors into his dim rooms–always.
Giroux’s rooms gripped me and did not let go.
When I met this artist and locked onto his big soft eyes, I just wanted to hold him and say, “You can step out into the light.” I am a cathartic observer.
To some extent we project ourselves into other people’s creations. We are drawn to the canvasses that elicit our deepest yearnings to cover our walls.
“It is as though you are imprisoned in these rooms and the light is calling you to venture out,” I mused with Giroux.
Some artists allow you to project, relishing our observations. He listened, observing the observer.
Other artists will tell you their intentions in every brush stroke.
Ostensibly, art on display engages both, the creator and observer–a duet that creates unique meaning of its own accord.
Giroux showed me his painful period. There was no ethereal source of light–just empty chairs. And that repeated cameo appearance of bits of decay.
I met his mother during our interview. She had popped-in to view her son’s exhibit at The Stomping Grounds in the Cotton Mill District.
“He always has a lemon peel on the ground too,” she whispered to me, wide-eyed and laser-focused on mine. It is a piece of a puzzle which she seemed to hold close. She left me to solve this mystery appearing trivial on the surface.
Nothing is meaningless in Giroux’s works.
A little decay is noticeable in all his canvasses–a lemon peel throws a fascinating wrench in the narrative, another layer to his meaning. There are no human or animal forms. His characters are furnishings–ornate and French or Italian country inspired–in social spaces, vestibules and drawing rooms.
There is a depth in these canvasses that have my grey matter whirling with delight still, as I write.
Giroux bought a home in Cornwall and maintains his atelier in-town. His works are seen across the nation though. They were the highlight of my exploration at Cornwall’s, Apples and Art 27th Annual Studio Tour. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Giroux groupie.
Yet, my art discovery was far from over.
I traveled to the Cline House Gallery, a pristine venue for top-rated artists opened since May 2018. The artists studio (at the rear of the gallery) has been functioning for seven years offering classes and space. Artists Emily Fourney MacLeod and Tracy Lynn Chisholm own the gallery and too, exhibit their own works.
The work hanging on the gallery’s walls during this special event were distinct from one wall to the next. Eight artists were featured including three here, Shari Bell Smelko, Anne Wylemans, Hye Kyun Yu, Heather J. Smith and Margot Boucher.
The place was packed with visitors evidently euphoric with all the works shown.
Among those artists featured, Korea-born and Cornwall area resident, Mi Sun Kim-Hunter, was intriguing.
Mi Sun captures dreams with her palette. Layers of texture and orbs represent lifelong dreams while its lone dreamer paddles on a water-craft above them. Her former foray in graphic arts informs her style.
“What is above the dreamer?,” I asked about the murky texture above the dream layers in her “Buried in Time” canvas. “It’s the future [dreams not yet formed].”
I believe her history also informs her dreams when she says, “I’ve done it all.” It is a truism our cumulative experiences–reality and dreams–can direct our future. Can we differentiate between them?
I shift my gaze to the peonies which caught my eye upon entering. MacLeod magnifies this floral favorite on large canvases. Her realist technique is impressive at this scale.
“I like to paint white, because it’s not white,” MacLeod qualifies. Indeed. White always reflects its surrounding colors and light sources. A texture-rich peony delivers MacLeod’s exploration of white triumphantly.
Tracy Lynn Chisholm’s canvases were all but one sold-out when I sat down to chat. I watched guests choose their favorites, excitedly debating their choices over an hour.
Chisholm’s domain is Canadian vistas. Her skies, trees, lands and waters are reminiscent of the Group of Seven, less Thomson, more Lismer; yet, her palette is a smidge more abstract in form and colour. The net effect is beautiful and within reach to its buyers.
Twenty-one venues and galleries participated in this year’s Apples and Art Annual Studio Tour, from Morrisburg to Lancaster. 2019 is a year to watch.
ALERT: The Cornwall Art Walk happens tomorrow, October 25th. You can experience these soulful artists again.