A conversation with Heather Dubreuil… stitching art together with needle and thread

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Heather Dubreuil’s solo show, ‘Cityscapes: Collages in Cloth & Stitch’, opened at the Arbor Gallery on Sunday, and she was kind enough to sit down for an interview.

Heather, who has been living and working in Hudson, Quebec, for almost three decades, works primarily with textiles. She takes her own photos of cityscapes and landscapes, and recreates the scenes in quilt form by cutting and dying fabric in her home studio, which is then stitched back together into a multi-layered, textured linear art.

Heather learned how to knit and crochet when she was very young, and spent most of her childhood making her own clothes. Now she uses the skylines of Montreal and New York City as her primary sources of inspiration.

According to Shanna Steals, who is curating Heather’s show, “we are invited to view what would appear as modern perspectives of repetitive architecture but through the lens of a long tradition of women’s work, stitching. With each line that is sewn and each square of fabric that is collaged together, Heather uses the technique of quilting to piece together parts of our mechanical landscape as well as our heritage.”

Heather and I also discussed the role of social media in getting her work to an audience, her love of Montreal, Quebec art politics, her mentors, and the process she went through to get her first shows.

…just a quick note: any audio problems are my fault — I mumble. I’d like to personally thank Heather for taking part in our continuing series of artist interviews.

Heather’s solo show at the Arbor Gallery continues until August 17.


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The ‘Vankleek Hill May Show’ is dead, long live the ‘VKH Victoria Day Weekend Arts Festival’… or something TBD later.

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We’re doing just fine, thanks.

…there’s a rumour going around that Vankleek Hill’s ‘May Show’ has been cancelled this year. But it really hasn’t.

Vankleek Hill’s ‘May Show Arts Festival’ started in the early 1980’s — this would have been its thirty-second year. It was a weekend arts exhibition featuring the work of thirteen local artists, including Elizabeth Skelly, Susan Jephcott, John Ikeda, ian hepburn, Michelle Landriault, and Jean Clermont.

The Arts Festival brought in thousands of visitors from all over Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, from Ottawa to Montreal and Cornwall, and it gradually grew into a street festival.

Eventually the May Show spun off into several other events, including craft shows and food festivals, that each contribute to Vankleek Hill’s identity as a ‘Festival Village’, by bringing in thousands more tourists.

While it is true that Phil Arbor — who has worked incredibly hard over the years to keep the show going — has had to cancel the Street Festival parts of the weekend over sponsorship issues, there are still many events happening in Vankleek Hill that weekend.

It’s not a tragedy, but it is an ending… of sorts. Even though no one actually owns the name, we will probably not use the ‘May Show’ brand this year, but Vankleek Hill’s ‘Arts and History Festival’ will continue on Victoria Day Weekend.

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A 17-Minute conversation with Williamstown artist, Erica Taylor… because 20 would be too much awesome for your brain.

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This blog is meant to be a learning tool… both for us and others. A few weeks ago, Erica Taylor — the Williamstown-based painter / graphic designer / illustrator / wood worker / carver, agreed to sit down for an interview, as part of our ‘Get To Know Local Artists’ series…

Erica is currently exhibiting in a solo show at the Arbor Gallery, called Plants & Animals’ — and it has been a great success, and gave us a great excuse to talk to her, but we would have eventually anyway…

…just a quick note: any audio problems are my fault — I mumble. And I’d like to personally thank Erica for taking part in this experiment. Hopefully we can do this again.

Erica’s solo show continues at the Arbor Gallery until May 1.


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The Internet is hard and makes your brain hurt… but there are easy ways to build your own online arts community

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One of the easiest lies artists believe is “you need to use the Internet to sell yourself”… that, somehow, ‘the Internet’ will drag you up and out of obscurity, and bring you to a huge audience who will buy all of your work for top dollar and praise your brilliance in long articles in Rolling Stone magazine.

And it is, for the most part, a lie. Artists do survive just fine without having a web presence.

But there is some truth in there, and it mostly depends on what definition of ‘Internet’ you use. If you’re willing to learn how to use it, chances are the ‘Internet’ could (or should) be a really easy way to reach a larger audience for your work.

Most of us who have turned to the ‘Internet’ to market and sell our work have simply started ‘static web sites’ — places to store our archives. An address to put on business cards.

The problem with a static web site, of course, is there’s never a reason for anyone to go back (even if they look great, and showcase awesome art). At least not regularly. You hand me your card, I check out your site once or twice, I see the same material, I never come back — not because I don’t like you, but because… what’s the point?

There’s no sense of community. There’s no chance to build a community. There’s no opportunity for growth. There’s no interaction between us, or between myself and the other people looking at your work.

They have their uses, but ‘static web sites’ are extremely limited and limiting. If want to use the ‘Internet’ to market yourself, to promote your work, if you’re looking for interaction, a community, finding people with common interests, you need a ‘dynamic web site’.

You need something that changes, that can encourage discussion and can be frequently updated — Facebook, Twitter, a blog, Instagram… ask your kid for the other ones.

Because, no word of a lie, if you’re not using a dynamic web site to market and promote your work, you might as well be swimming up a waterfall… which can be a problem for a lot of us who never considered swimming lessons important to our art to begin with.

But it doesn’t have to be hard.

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Photos from the opening of Erica Taylor’s solo exhibition – ‘Plants & Animals’

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Erica Taylor‘s solo show at the Arbor Gallery kicked off on Saturday, March 15, with a very successful vernissage… ‘Plants & Animals‘ will run until April 20. We also sat down with Erica for an ‘on camera’ interview, which we’ll be posting soon.

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Taylor, a sign painter and graphic designer, has been a professional artist since 2008, and has been included in juried exhibitions in Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, and the U.S. She was a recipient of an Emerging Artist Grant from the Ontario Arts Council, and has work in private collections in Ontario, Quebec and Australia.


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A conversation with Susan Jephcott on the influence of Freda Pemberton-Smith on Vankleek Hill’s artistic community

Two weeks ago I sat down with Susan Jephcott, one of Vankleek Hill’s most established artists — and one of the founding members of Vankleek Hill’s ‘May Show Arts Festival (and one of my favourite human beings) to discuss the influence Freda Pemberton-Smith had on her, and on Vankleek Hill‘s artistic community.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, I got sidetracked trying to prepare the interview for broadcast on a local cable station, which meant spending ten days trying to learn new software and editing techniques that people normally spend months and thousands of dollars trying to… not ‘master’, lets say ‘navigate’.

One of the problems I had was it was filmed in ‘ultra-HD’, which does not transfer well to viewing on the web. Over the weekend, however, I finally had a version I was happy with — fade ins, fade outs, information boxes, photos, end credits — but then, as sometimes happens, it all went away.

Hopefully, eventually, we’ll get it back. Maybe after a few more online tutorials. So, for now, we’re just going to post the individual pieces, and worry about the ‘for broadcast’ version later… the video is towards the bottom.

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