WHITEFISH FALLS—The LaCloche Art Show has come a long way since the days when artists Peg Forbes, Ivan Wheale and Em Lloyd scrubbed clean the Willisville Schoolhouse and pronounced the first LaCloche Art Show open (with a little help from chief ribbon cutter, the late MPP John Lane).
The 83-year-old Ivan Wheale is the sole remaining founding committee member left of the original three and it was he who was honoured during the opening ceremonies of the 40th annual LaCloche Art Show held last Thursday in the Whitefish Falls fire hall.
Carmela Ciccarelli, art show coordinator, began the evening’s events, thanking the many people who help to make the event possible. She told the crowd that this 40th event boasts 323 pieces by 119 artists.
The jurors this year included the 2017 Distinguished Artist Ivan Wheale, Deanna Nebenionquit, Ann Savela, Harvey Honsberger and Sarah Burton. “Thank you for your expertise and time,” Ms. Ciccarelli said.
This year’s committee includes Jon and Kerry Butler, Trudy and Peter Bolduc, David and Sheila Cole, Mary Sue Bourget, Susan Cairns, Irene Kivikink, Nicole Medynski, Gail Meehan, Judith Mosher and Rachelle Newton.
Jon Butler took to the stage and asked the packed house, “How many of you get up at 4 am and paint, take photos or write?” A very few people showed their hands.
“Well our distinguished artist and founding member, Ivan Wheale, still does it to this day,” Mr. Butler said.
He told the story of Mr. Wheale, Peg Forbes and Em Lloyd discussing the possibility of an art show in Willisville during one of Ms. Forbes’ famed tea parties. Forty years later, the art show continues to grow each year.
“When the Queen wakes up, when the person in power in Parliament Hill gets up, or the people at Queen’s Park, they all get to see Ivan’s paintings,” Mr. Butler added. “He’s got to be doing something right. He’s been working at it for six decades and he’s almost got it,” he teased.
Mr. Wheale recalled that first show in the Willisville Schoolhouse, the scrubbing of the floors and walls, tacking nails to the walls to hang the paintings, and the 17 artists who answered the call for entries.
Algoma-Manitoulin MPP John Lane helped to cut the ribbon and an amazing 200 people showed up to mark the event, Mr. Wheale added.
“If you show good works, people will come and come they have,” he continued. “Look around—a room full of people, all artists. It’s just getting bigger, bigger and bigger. One day, perhaps, it will get so big that it will mean needing its own permanent art gallery.”
Mr. Wheale hosted an artists’ workshop that afternoon that included a slideshow of his life’s work. Following the show, he said numerous people commented, “I didn’t know you painted anything other than rocks.”
“I really like rocks, and I think I’ll still do them,” he smiled.
Before life as a full-time artist, Mr. Wheale worked in a lumber yard in Sudbury. When Vincent van Gogh’s works came to Canada for the first time, to a show in Toronto, Mr. Wheale and his late wife Jean drove south to attend a Saturday show. On Monday he quit his job—he knew his calling in life.
“My boss told me I’d never amount to anything and I said he’d eat his words—I think he did.”
This year’s awards were presented to the following artists: elementary school art, first place, Gabrielle Lacasse, Grade 8, Ecole St. Joseph, for ‘Untitled;’ second place, Sabrina Shamess, Grade 6, A.B. Ellis, ‘The Solo Start;’ honourable mentions, Lillian Claire Tilson, Grade 4, A.B. Ellis, ‘The Trail to the Kiwi’ and Kindra Finch, Grade 7, A.B. Ellis, ‘Spirit of the Earth;’ acrylic, first place, Danielle Gardner for ‘Symphonic Radiation;’ second place, Calvin Knight for ‘The Desert Inside;’ and honourable mentions, Raechel Reid for ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘Time Keeper;’ drawing, first place, Colette Theriault for ‘Curliecue;’ second place, Penny Bois for ‘Caroline;’ and honourable mention, Penny Bois for ‘Young Model;’ mixed media, first place, Lionel Venne for ‘Ancient Landscape;’ second prize, Brigitte Bere for ‘There will be another day;’ honourable mentions, Elizabeth Holmes for ‘Old Barn and Milkhouse’ and Elizabeth Peekstok for ‘Untitled Circles #1;’ oil, first place, Elizabeth Sander for ‘Rhythm of the Rocks;’ second place, Lauren Satok for ‘Downtown Espanola;’ and honourable mentions, Gail Meehan for ‘Spring Stream’ and Anka Milligan for ‘Memories of Nonna;’ pastel, first place, Beth Bouffard for ‘Home Before Dark;’ second place, Beth Bouffard for ‘Hydrangea Hues;’ honourable mentions, Christina Edwards for ‘Northern Forest’ and Colette Theriault for ‘The Eyes Have It;’ photography, first place, John Reeves for ‘South Benjamin Island;’ second place, Jon Butler for ‘Reflecting on Grace;’ and honourable mentions, Bruce Gates for ‘Killarney Lake’ and Pierre Leroux for ‘Pullin at Prov;’ sculpture, first place, Lionel Venne for ‘Balance;’ second place, Darren Mick for ‘A Shadow Falling;’ and honourable mention, Vic Laberge for ‘Scramble Puzzle Bowl;’ watercolour, first place, Cliff Jewell for ‘Rubber, Rust and Glass;’ second place, Richard Edwards for ‘Sky Reflection;’ and honourable mention, Elizabeth Peekstock for ‘Dilemma.’
The Committee’s Choice Award went to Jay Favot for ‘Apple Blossoms while the Peg Forbes Award went to Julieanne Steedman for ‘Winter Willisville Picnic.’
The Ivan Wheale Award was given to Ruth Reid for ‘Willisville Wonder’ and the Best of Show was awarded to Danielle Gardner for ‘Symphonic Radiation.’
The 40th annual LaCloche Art Show is on now through Sunday, July 9 at the Whitefish Falls Community Centre from 11 am to 5 pm.