Perivale Gallery bustles during 36th season opening

Ivan Wheale and Perivale Gallery curator Shannon McMullan surrounded by Mr. Wheale’s latest works.

SPRING BAY—Walking into the Perivale Gallery for the 1 pm opening of the popular Island source of fine art on Sunday visitors had to squeeze by patrons bustling out the door with their wrapped purchases clasped close. Meanwhile, gallery curator and owner Shannon McMullan was kept busy recording sales and writing out receipts, her fingers a practical blur.

The crowd of patrons attending the opening began streaming in before 12 o’clock, eager to see this year’s collection of work. It was a good thing they had arrived early, as several works had already sprouted red dots (indicating sold) and were being replaced on the walls by other of the signature works of premier artist Ivan Wheale.

“They tell me they sold six paintings already,” said a beaming Mr. Wheale, who was kept busy throughout the afternoon meeting and greeting old friends and patrons, many of whom own several of his popular works.

Mr. Wheale pronounced himself personally very pleased with the 26 works he had brought to the opening. “I truly think this is some of the best work I have ever done,” he said. No small feat, since Mr. Wheale’s work has become synonymous with both rugged and pastoral visions of Canada.

Perivale Gallery was packed for opening day.
photos by Michael Erskine

Perhaps best known in recent years for his stunning portrayals of the Georgian Bay shorelines, focussed in great detail and rendered in oil on canvas, Mr. Wheale’s talent knows no barriers and his smaller works explored a wide range of media.

“Ivan Wheale has been with Perivale since its beginning in 1981 and his work now is exclusive to the gallery, both in house and on the gallery’s website,” said Ms. McMullan. If you couldn’t make it out to the opening to meet Mr. Wheale and see his work first hand, the curator noted that Ivan Wheale’s available vintage works can also be seen on the gallery website at “We will have images of Ivan’s newest works loaded on the website in the morning on the day of the opening. We have already been contacted by overseas and distant fans eagerly awaiting a glimpse of Ivan’s newest works.”

Ms. McMullan said that she was confident the phone would start ringing at 1 pm on the day of the opening, but in truth it sounded off much earlier. One eager buyer from Ireland couldn’t bear to chance waiting until the official opening to secure their choice.

“As well as home to the works of Ivan Wheale, Perivale is privileged to represent over 50 outstanding Ontario artists such as Hadyn Butler, Jay Favot, C.A. Henry, Lisa Free, Cathy Boyd, Claudia Jean McCabe, Laurie Near, Tyler Fauvelle, Frank Danielson, and Jennifer Lawton, to name a few,” supplied Ms. McMullan. “Manitoulin Island artists, such as Judy Martin, Carly Gordon, Barry Bowerman, Kerry Butler and Christie Pearson Anderson also have distinct presence.”

The Perivale Gallery may be a tremendous source of fine art, both local and from beyond Manitoulin’s shores, but it is also a hotbed of artistic activity in its own right. “Perivale has a busy 36th season planned,” noted Ms. McMullan. “Ten three-day weekend art workshops are offered this summer for every level and interest.”

Outstanding instructors such as Ivan Wheale, Ruth Reid, Linda Finn, Cathy Boyd, Jennifer Lawton, Andre Hamilton and Peter Baumgarten will help participants explore new techniques and guide creativity to new heights. “It’s a perfect time to plan an inspiring getaway to beautiful Manitoulin Island,” suggested Ms. McMullan. “Bring a friend or the family, there are lots of nearby accommodation and activities for everyone and their entourage.”

Among the planned activities taking place at the gallery this summer will be a show by talented Sudbury artist Jay Favot. “He will wow with his show ‘New Horizons,” said Ms. McMullan. “The show will be opening with a reception at Perivale on July 15 at 1 pm. This exhibition of Jay’s newest works will continue until July 21. Jay will also be featured as an Artist to Collect in the spring edition of Arabella Magazine, Canada’s foremost art publication.”

“Artist Cathy Boyd will be featured in the summer edition and copies of Arabella will be available at the gallery,” said Ms. McMullan.

The annual ‘In the Spirit of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven’ show at Perivale will open on July 22 and continue through to August 6. “This exhibition by Perivale’s artists and artisans, as well as a number of guest artists, features works inspired by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. Charles Pachter, one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists, is among those participating. This show brings many visitors to Manitoulin for the first time,” noted Ms. McMullan.

If you didn’t make it out for the opening, there is plenty of time to drop in and visit Perivale Gallery before it closes for the season on September 17. Canada’s 150th anniversary is a great excuse, as if anyone needed one, to purchase a piece of fine art by a Canadian artist. As you stop in to celebrate this fine display of Canadian talent, be sure to look around the grounds and gardens, for Perivale Gallery is truly nestled in a magical setting.