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#CouncilSpotlight: Artists & Artisans Study Group

Jennifer Clark

The Ottawa Arts Council supports artists and arts organizations through leadership, guidance and the provision of opportunities to advance our local creative potential.

Our series #CouncilSpotlight presents stories and experiences of Arts Council members and art award recipients.

 

Outing to Applecrate Galleries in Manotick - A&A's communications coordinator Sharon Rudnitski with Dulce Tapp's mixed media painting from her Day of the Dead series.How and when did the Artists and Artisans Study Group start?

As part of the National Gallery of Canada’s study groups, the A&A Study Group  existed since early 1960 in various forms and under different names, like “Understanding the Techniques of Art” (1966).  In 1984, these study groups were renamed the “Artists and Artisans Study Group” under the umbrella of The Volunteers’ Circle of the National Gallery.  In 2016, the Group changed its affiliation to the Ottawa Arts Council because the National Gallery refocused its mandate nationally, thus excluding groups with local focus.

What was the intention or purpose of creating the group?

Although the name of the Group changed many years ago, the founding intention of the Group remains the better understanding of the techniques of art and the creative process.  Today’s Study Group program aims to help members develop a greater awareness of the work of local artists and artisans in Ottawa and surrounding areas.

Anna Frlan is a sculptor of steel, dedicated to transforming this surprisingly pliable material into meaningful statements.  The daughter of Croatian émigrés, her recent work has more recently explored the connection between industrial steel and twentieth-century weaponry. How is the group involved in the Ottawa arts community?

On a monthly basis, members  visit an artist, artisan or gallery, to meet the person  and get to know their body of work. In addition to these organized monthly visits, members visit on their own various galleries, new artists, festivals and events.  When they see work they like, they bring these names to the Study Group for consideration for a group visit during the following year. Members are either artists themselves or are avid art lovers.

What has the impact of being involved with the arts/the Ottawa arts community been?

Through our study of art in the community, members get a better understanding of Ottawa!  Artists and artisans have the ability to create a body of work that reflects their passion, their vision of community, their unique techniques and their humanity.  The diversity of art found in Ottawa is incredible. Through our visits, we can better appreciate the role of art in building Ottawa. These visits also give members the opportunity to purchase local art directly from the artist/artisan.

Professor Eric Weichel lectures us on romanticism in Canadian art: here, a work by Ken Monkman, part Cree part Irish artist.Is there a specific moment/situation for the group that is remembered fondly?

Each member would take away their own special moment.  Special moments come when we learn about creative techniques used by artists and artisans to design and execute their piece of art.  Some examples might be our visits with Eleanor Milne, one of Canada’s Dominion Sculptors, and Bernard Poulin, an internationally recognized portrait artist with work displayed in Windsor Castle. We've also visited an artist who paints evocative animal portraits on her farm where she raises yaks, a young woman who welds giant sculptures from metal, with commentary on both war and the home, and a volunteer fireman who creates realistic large-scale animal sculptures from junk yard scraps.

Do you have any advice or thoughts for people looking to engage with the arts, artists and artisans in the Ottawa community?

Local artists and artisans need to meet people who appreciate their work and their contributions to Ottawa.  As well, politicians at all levels need to understand and support the art community, in all its diversity. We are blessed in Ottawa with many galleries and art festivals with national and international reach. Ottawans who take the time to visit these venues and admire the work of our local  arts community may be inspired, when possible, to support the arts by making a monetary investment. Citizens interested in local art can follow our Facebook page, where we promote the work of artists and artisans whom we visit - https://www.facebook.com/groups/Ottawa.artscene.

From Erin Robertson's studio - fox.What is the group currently looking at or planning?

A great program has been identified for our 2018-19 season. We are scheduled to visit the new Ottawa Art Gallery; Victoria Palmer, a painist who creates woodcuts inspired by her music; Mike Sirois, an industrial designer; and Jennifer Anne Kelly, a fused glass artist, to name a few.  We look forward to these fascinating visits.

Why are you a member of the Ottawa Arts Council?

We joined the Council because we believed it was a great fit with our mission.  Both organizations focus on Ottawa’s arts community, appreciating its diversity, its creativity and its role in today’s society. We support this community by being a voice for its members, by investing into it, and by supporting new members.  The Council helps us identify artists and artisans whom we may visit within our program. Finally, the Council offers us a way to formally support art in our community through an annual donation.

 

Want to learn more about the Artists and Artisans Study Group? Find them on Facebook.

 

Image Captions:

  • A&A jan15: Outing to Applecrate Galleries in Manotick - A&A's communications coordinator Sharon Rudnitski with Dulce Tapp's mixed media painting from her Day of the Dead series.
  • DSCN9926: Anna Frlan is a sculptor of steel, dedicated to transforming this surprisingly pliable material into meaningful statements.  The daughter of Croatian émigrés, her recent work has more recently explored the connection between industrial steel and twentieth-century weaponry.
  • DSCN7861: Professor Eric Weichel lectures us on romanticism in Canadian art: here, a work by Ken Monkman, part Cree part Irish artist.
  • DSCN5480: From Erin Robertson's studio - fox.