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By Constance Scrafield
Most artists like to spread the wings of their work to towns and regions outside their home base.
Three artists from Dufferin County and Alton, Encaustic artist Karen Brown, Kayla Jackson, an artist who loves to paint en plein air and Connie Munson, artist and photographer; she enjoys creating art and collaborating with like-minded souls to stage events that support artists in an assortment of venues.
All three of these ladies are or have been members of Headwaters Arts and other arts groups; they have shown their work at the Alton Mill Arts Centre and been recognized for their art by numerous organizations.
For February, an exhibit of their visions of small towns and rural vistas, titled "Over Hill and Dale," is on display at Heather's Bakery Cafe (103 Main Street South, Georgetown). This sole-owner bakery possesses a very amendable atmosphere by offering its walls as a true gallery for artists to display their work.
In conversation with the Citizen, Ms. Munson remarked, "There is a vibrant arts scene in Georgetown, with the Credit Valley Artisans and the Georgetown old church, which is now a cultural centre, the Helson Gallery.
"We participated in the Square Foot Show at Heather's Bakery Cafe last year," said Ms. Munson, adding, "Heather Brownridge has been very supportive of the arts, with a proper gallery in her cafe for six years."
The press release for this month-long event comments on each of the artists, saying of Karen Brown, "[Her] encaustic mixed media works hang in several private collections and at her studio, the Hive Encaustic Studio in the Alton Mill Arts Centre. She incorporates her photography of rural scenes, in particular the barns that are disappearing across Ontario."
Connie Munson and Karen Brown both grew up on farms, giving them each a special love for such a life. Ms. Brown has raised chickens. She uses her own beeswax for her encaustic paintings. For her, there is such nostalgia and a sense of loss at one old barn crumbling.
Kayla Jackson's love for the spirit of small-town living is alive in her acrylic and oil paintings.
According to the press release, her "first solo show was 'a love letter' to her hometown, Alton, a showcase celebrating the heritage of this village with over 60 pieces hung in the Falls Gallery at the Alton Mill Arts Centre."
As for Ms. Munson, in addition to her passion for photography, she has recently discovered a love for chalk or soft pastel painting. Besotted with barns, as she says, she "feels most at home in the rolling hills of Halton and Caledon with their lush farmlands." Her paintings and photographs are "showing across southern Ontario.
Most notably, her work has hung in the Ontario Legislature's In-Camera Dining Room and at the McMichael Gallery." Currently, Ms. Munson resides in Brampton. During our conversation, she mentioned, "When Kayla Jackson, Karen Brown and I are doing Over Hill and Dale, it's a celebration of small-town and country life."
Heather's Bakery and Cafe is a gathering place where people meet and the conversation flows. A mother brings her child and admires the pictures. At another table, three men are discussing menus and a couple is enjoying their coffee amid the ambience.
People enjoyed talking to the artists at the Meet' n' Greet opening on Wednesday this week and hope to meet them as well, by chance, at the cafe during the month.
The three of them share a passion for the countryside, its wealth of hues and textures, nature and heritage buildings – especially the old barns.
Connie Munson loves old barns, loves the colours. She describes Karen Brown's paintings as "other worldly." She does buildings, landscapes and barns. They're dynamic as well," declared Ms. Munson. "Her use of colour is bold. It is evident from her paintings that Karen Brown loves trees, the pattering of leaves and clouds, how they hold one's interest."
All of it together in the cafe, the pleasure of it, a little bit of a step back in time, the feeling of warmth. How lovely to have a cafe where a person could read and watch the people in and out, as we do in Orangeville.
When people heard that Heather, after 21 years of very early mornings and a great deal of work to produce all that they sell on the premises, is going to be selling the cafe, they worried about missing her excellent ginger cookies and all the rest of her menu.
It could be a great opportunity for the right person or partners. As a person with lots of ideas and a desire to be part of a number of art groups, to promote her own art, but, just as importantly, to collaborate and organize interesting events in various venues.
She told us she likes to get people talking and enthusiastic about the next project.
"Themes hold different art together," she theorized. "There is always potential and I like to see potential happen."
She has come from a background as a teacher, social worker and in sales and she has always been on the side of the positive.
When they looked over the collection of Over the Hill and Dale, once it was curated and hung, they had an eclectic mix of encaustic, oil, and photography. She said, "Kayla and I are really happy with the show."
To view E. Connie Munson's work, visit studiobydesign.ca, view
Kayla Jackson's art at kayjaxcreativeco.com, and find Karen Brown's wonderful encaustics at karenbrownencaustics.com.
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