The Mutchmor Galleries to open June 3 in Providence Bay

The south side of the old Providence Bay Home Hardware building, which is soon to open as the new Mutchmor Galleries, was transformed thanks to this mural by Toronto artists Shalak Attack, Flya Bruxa and Bruno Smoky. photo by Michael Erskine

Owner commissions Manitoulin themed mural from world famous artists

PROVIDENCE BAY—The transformation of the old Providence Bay Home Hardware (McDermid’s Home Hardware) into The Mutchmor Galleries is still in the works, but this past week it took a leap forward with the completion of a large-scale mural on the south side of the building.

Providence Bay’s Lake Huron Fish and Chips Co. owner Matthew Garniss purchased the 10,000 sq foot historical building last year and began renovations, turning the building into The Mutchmor Galleries, a café, health food store, art galleries, antique store and yoga studio.

The name of the new space, The Mutchmor Galleries, comes from the name of the street on which is stands, with ‘Mutchmor’ being the original name of Hwy 551 and one of the original family names in the village.

Mr. Garniss has been hard at work getting the building ready on the inside for its first season, with the goal of opening on Friday, June 3, but wanted to do something extra special for the outside.

“My overall idea was to do something to draw attention to Providence Bay,” Mr. Garniss told The Expositor. “At the fish and chips store I get a lot of people asking for recommendations on what to do during their time on Manitoulin and I suggest things like Bridal Veil Falls and the Cup and Saucer. I hope that other people on the Island will recommend coming to Providence Bay to see the mural and all the other wonderful things we have to offer.”

Mr. Garniss, who spends his winter in Toronto, said he and his girlfriend Bridgette Sarpong (who is opening the Peace Café in The Mutchmor Galleries) were exploring the city this past winter, commenting on their love of street art when they discovered the work of Essencia.

“They were working on the largest mural in Canada on Lawrence Avenue West and we drove by one of their last days and stopped to hang out and chat,” said Mr. Garniss, who said that he was so taken by their work he asked them to come to Manitoulin to do a mural on the gallery.

“The artists, Shalak Attack, Flya Bruxa and Bruno Smoky, came last week and stayed in my family home, working on the mural all week,” explained Mr. Garniss.

As for the subject matter of the mural, Mr. Garniss said that he sent the artists a list of words to describe Manitoulin ahead of time and told them a few stories about the Island.

“They are internationally famous artists, so I didn’t want to give them too much direction,” he said, noting that he wanted to give them creative space. “They were really great at adding elements in as they spoke with people who stopped by to see their progress. My carpenter showed them a hawberry branch and explained the significance of the tree to them and they added a hawberry branch in the owl’s talons. Someone else was telling them about morels so they hid a few in the mural.”

Essencia finished the mural on Monday, which includes images of an owl, bear, fish, the beach and waterfalls.

“It has been getting a great response,” said Mr. Garniss. “It has been overwhelming. People have been coming all week to see it and the progress and there have been a lot of photos posted of it on social media.”

“We have fallen in love with Manitoulin and the people,” commented Essencia of their time of the Island. “We hope to come back to do more art and perhaps to even live here.”

The inside of the building is also coming along also, with carpenters even working on the holiday Monday.

“We are able to start varnishing the floor and we have completed the dry walling,” Mr. Garniss shared. “With all the work, we wanted to ensure the historical charm of the building.”

When the gallery opens next month, Ms. Sarpong will be serving up espresso, lattes, drip coffee and teas, in addition to baked goods, chocolate and daily healthy food options in the Peace Café. It will feature a gallery component with work from Island artists Ann Beam, Anong Beam, Linda Williamson, as well as photography, pottery and jewellery.

The café will also host a health food store carrying a variety of items and some bulk options, juices and eco-friendly household products.

The other space at the front of the building will be occupied by the Oriole Arts Studio and Gallery.

Diane Cruttenden, weaver and fiber artist (of the former Sheepish Grin), will be opening a studio/shop in the building and will also be using the space for workshops.

On the second floor of the building there will be a marketplace with customized booths for vendors.

The vendors include clothing companies, stationery, pottery, home decor and antiques. As well, Mr. Garniss will be opening a new and used vinyl record shop. There will also be a yoga studio available for teachers to rent for classes, or for any type of dance class.

Follow @themutchmor on Instagram and this newspaper for photos and information about the gallery’s season opening.