In a rare opportunity to rub shoulders, community leaders came together with arts patrons and art students and took time to recognize how far they’ve come.
What a difference a few short years can make.
A new public art gallery, a wealth of local musicians and bands, a new film festival, and the First Friday cultural walkabouts coupled with the restored Imperial Theatre and renewal of the Lawrence House are all creating a vibrant arts community in Sarnia, said Mayor Mike Bradley.
“The cluster is building and building,” he said during a jam-packed opening gala for the third annual Lambton College Arts Collective held last week at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.
It was a lively celebration catered by students of the college’s culinary management program decked out in black and white. The walls of the stately mansion were covered with the artwork of college students, with more taking part in the annual exhibition than ever before.
The arts community is contributing significantly to the city’s ambience and its economy, Bradley said, as he announced the winner of the Mayor’s Award. Brandi McFadden took home the prize for her acrylic painting.
Art engages people and can inspire social action, said Lambton College President Judy Morris.
The health of a community can be measured in part by its “creative heart,” she said, thanking the artists. “You have inspired us and that’s what life is all about.”
Andrea Ochoa-Pineda, a second year digital photography student, won the President’s Award and was presented with a bouquet and $200 cheque.
Leonard Segall, chairman of the Lawrence House board of directors, said celebrating the arts at a gala event attended by more than 100 guests is a signal culture is alive and well in Sarnia.
He recognized city council for coming through with the finances to repair the slate roof on the Lawrence House this fall.
The college collective is growing every year, said co-ordinator Lois Nantais, and is only one way to inspire others in the community to get involved in the arts scene.
“We sold a number of pieces last year during the exhibition but, as much as it is about selling art, it’s also about inspiration,” she said.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: The third annual Lambton College Arts Collective exhibition
WHERE: Lawrence House Centre for the Arts on Christina at Wellington streets.
WHEN: Until Nov. 27. Wednesday to Friday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.