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Gallery exhibition helps put trained artists in the classroom

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Cathy Dobson

When Gallery in the Grove put a call out for a juried exhibition this year, no fewer than 80 works were submitted for consideration.

Fifty were chosen as part of FLORA now on display at the public art gallery until June 23.

The opportunity to be part of a juried show attracted many established artists from Sarnia-Lambton and farther afield, said Kirsty Kilner Holmes, exhibition planner and volunteer chairperson.

An acrylic painting called “For the Love of Gardens” by celebrated Sarnia artist Jane Hunter took first prize, with a hand-hooked runner by Cydna Kay winning second.

Third prize went to Susan Garrington for “Ontario Spring” while John Holt won the Juror’s Choice Award for his metal work, “Love is a Tumbleweed of Emotions.”

“It truly is a lovely exhibition,” said Kilner Holmes.

Notably, FLORA will generate $600 for the gallery’s education programs, which have fostered a love of art in thousands of elementary school students.

Since 1990, gallery volunteers have hired art teachers who instruct in Grade 6 classrooms throughout Sarnia-Lambton.

“Arts education is so limited in Ontario and so underfunded,” Kilner Holmes explained. “There are no trained art teachers anymore in elementary schools.”

So for nearly 30 years, the gallery has provided six hours of classroom art instruction free-of-charge. The program, known as VALS (Visiting Artists in Lambton Schools), is so popular there’s a waiting list of teachers who request it.

Money raised by the gallery also helps pay for five $1,000 scholarships awarded annually to local students pursuing post-secondary arts programs. Since 1982, the scholarship has handed out an impressive $117,000.

“We are a small gallery but we are mighty,” said Kilner Holmes.  “We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Many of the students lucky enough to have a visiting artist in Grade 6 have gone on to receive the post-secondary scholarships, she noted.

This year alone, more than 800 students benefited from VALS.

Anyone who goes to the FLORA show can vote for his or her favourite piece of art. The People’s Choice Award will be announced at the close of the exhibition.

Gallery in the Grove is at 2618 Hamilton Rd. Call 519-869-4643 or visit www.galleryinthegrove.com.



Sarnia’s Natali Bravo will host her first photography exhibition on Saturday, June 23 and has chosen a theme that’s both brave and thoughtful.

Photographer Natali Bravo, seen here taking a selfie, is holding a one-night show June 23 called ‘Into The Depth’ at The Story on Christina Street.
Submitted Photo

The seven very large prints on display will be black and white nude portraits that reflect Bravo’s struggle with depression. Some prints are as large as four-feet by three-feet.

“I’m baring myself, so it didn’t make sense for the subjects in my photos to wear clothing,” she explained.  “The show is a metaphor for the vulnerability we expose in exploring our mental health.”

Bravo, who graduated from Lambton College’s digital photography program in 2015, is building a reputation locally for her mostly black and white photography.

She frequently takes photos at community events and has been the Artwalk photographer the past three years.

Her one-night show called “Into The Depth” begins at 8:30 p.m. at The Story on Christina Street. Musicians featured include Isabelle Robinson, Jake Giresi, Tony Dowswell and Hank Ryder.  This is a licenced event with free admission.

For more on Natali Bravo’s work, see her bravofoto Facebook page.

The Arts Journal reflects Sarnia’s thriving cultural scene.  Send your ideas to [email protected].


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