Saturday, October 9th 2010 marks the opening of “Legacy” at the Auburn Gallery of Fine Art in Gravenhurst. It is an exhibition of portraits, paintings and photographs depicting the people and places of 19th and 20th century south Muskoka and some of their stories. The artists participating are Helene Adamson, the late Henry Fry, and myself. Everyone is welcome to drop by and see us from 1-3pm on Saturday, October 9th. The exhibition runs until October 22nd.
Helene Adamson took on the challenge of painting famous industrialists from Gravenhurst’s past often working from very small and often grainy black and white pictures. Some of the oil portraits are of A.P.Coburn, founder of Muskoka Navigation Company; Tom Greavette; Dugald Brown, hotelier and owner of Brown’s Beverages; Dr. W.B. Kendall, physician-in-chief of the Muskoka Cottage Sanatorium and Muskoka Free Hospital; Mary McBride, one of the town’s earliest school teachers; and others, seven in total.
Finding photos of my subjects wasn’t easy. Cyril and Marion Fry at the town archives were wonderfully helpful. […] It was sometimes a guessing game when it came to eye or hair colour, but happily folks were pleased to share what they knew about their ancestors.
The late Henry Fry was the town’s first real documentary photographer with many of his photos stored in the Gravenhurst archives. The current location of the Auburn Gallery was Henry’s home and darkroom where many of the images on display were first developed. A relative of Henry’s, Nancy Lynch, is doing a special project in fabric using Henry’s images. This project is a must see!
My paintings and photographs are from my explorations of Uffington, Cooper’s Falls, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and other south Muskoka and north Simcoe locations over the last two years. I shot hundreds of photographs in search of the right places, the right light for the series in which the current paintings are a part. Each location inspired me in some way and that inspiration led to research that was like a treasure hunt into the past both beyond and informing the work.
When I paint a chair by an old window, I wonder who may have sat there and what their lives were like… When I first entered the Livingstone/Stephens house, there was a feeling, as if the walls whispered to me. Something about that house drove me to discover its history, a process that took months following one clue after another until a chance conversation led me to the daughter of Richard and Belle Stephens, now 90. She shared stories of life on the farm and the tragic tale of Neil Livingstone, the house’s builder. The place touched me, and now I feel a part of its history too. I invite the viewer to step into that world.
The histories of the people and the properties in this exhibition have been researched and documented. Michelle searched land registry records, interviewed family members and combed libraries. Included will be the full story of the Livingstone/Stephens house and it’s legacy of gold in Bracebridge; the award winning “Everything But the Bathroom Sink” from the Heal house in Gravenhurst, currently under renovation; the story of the Fleger/Veitch-Marchildon House, also being restored; and the fate of the St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Uffington. Many of these stories will be the foundation of my 2011 book.