M’CHIGEENG—The walls of Pinecone Art Gallery in M’Chigeeng are festooned with an eclectic mix of the mixed media artwork of Leonard Beam. Mr. Beam opened the gallery located at the bottom of the hill in M’Chigeeng beside the former Susan Hare law office.
“I actually started out wanting to learn how to paint furniture,” laughed Mr. Beam, who earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Vancouver’s prestigious Emily Carr University of Art + Design. “I found myself hooked soon after I started classes,” he said. “I haven’t looked back since.”
Mr. Beam spent 20 years in Vancouver before moving back home to M’Chigeeng. “It got to be so expensive out there,” he said. “It is crazy.”
While based in the west, the artist still moved around quite a lot, and said he takes much of his inspiration for his art from those travels, mostly in Canada, although he did enjoy a sojourn in Italy. “I really love the west, especially the badlands,” he said. “Italy was amazing, the sculptures, not just one by an artist, but so many.”
Mr. Beam comes from a family of artists, his brother, the late Carl Beam, was an internationally renowned artist whose works are on display in the National Gallery and his sister-in-law Ann Beam and niece Anong Beam are accomplished artists in their own right.
Mr. Beam has not strayed completely from his own roots, with some of his art emblazoned on functional pieces of furniture, while other platforms range from traditional canvas (“I stretch my own canvas”) to museum quality paper.
The price of his works range from several thousand dollars for larger format paintings to smaller works more accessible to a limited pocketbook. “I like to have something for everyone,” he said. “Not everyone has the space for larger paintings.”
To that end Mr. Beam has had some of his work reproduced in prints by OJ Graphix in Espanola. “It’s good to keep things local when you can,” he said.
One of his more popular formats are those works mounted on small square panels.
The subject matter of his works range widely, usually juxtaposing divergent images to create a message to the viewer at their intersections.
Although he has the gallery/workspace on Highway 540 at the bottom of the hill going into M’Chigeeng, Mr. Beam said that he is currently working mostly in his apartment. “It’s quiet in the winter, so I don’t bother coming into the gallery if I don’t have to,” he said. “I plan to get internet in here soon so I can set up my computer.”
Although the studio should be open by sometime in May, those wishing to drop in should set up an appointment by calling 705-348-2770 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.