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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How explicit is too explicit for a small town art gallery? Hint: it begins with a V and ends in gina.

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Vankleek Hill has a long history with naked people. Especially in our art.

For the past five years, the Arbor Gallery has exhibited an annual Valentine’s Day show specifically featuring erotic art in something we like to call ‘The Eros Show‘.

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In 2011, for example, we featured three paintings from Edwina Billyk, called “Seated nude male,” “Homo erectus et ludens,” and “Homo erectus”. All three featured realistic nude male figures, on blue backgrounds, lounging around… lets say, very comfortably.

Galleries in Vankleek Hill, including ours, have never shied away from exhibiting nudes, especially during the early years of our famous annual Vankleek Hill May Art Festival. From 1982 until (roughly) 1992, Vankleek Hill’s galleries had many erotic aspects to their shows, including Donald Liardi’s nude sculptures, and Susan Jephcott’s paintings… all of which either involve nudity, or make you feel like you should be naked. John Greewald’s paintings are another example of how accepting gallery visitors have been to exhibiting nudity in our local galleries.

Basically, what I’m trying to say, is there have been no uprisings. I can’t even remember a letter to the editor ever having been written — or, at least, published — regarding anyone’s morals being offended by any art featuring totally exposed, or engorged… pieces.

…of course, maybe the people who might complain just don’t bother showing up (I prefer to think they all just moved away back in 1983 when it became evident our artistic community wasn’t going to stop with the naked stuff).

But this year was different. This year’s Eros Show featured nudes by Erica Taylor — including her ‘Silver Streak Penis Car‘ sculpture, as well as John Greenwald’s work, and Susan Jephcott’s paintings shown openly on our walls. But the photography of newcomer, Roy Whidden, caused Jessica Sarrazin, the Arbor Gallery’s Artistic Director, to rethink some of our policies.

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The first in what we hope will be an awesome series of ‘How To Do Art’ essays… plus, expletives.

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This is the first in what we hope will be a series of “How To” essays. This week: How To Be A Writer. It’s entirely possible the next one will be ‘How Not To Write A How To Essay’. We’ll see how it goes…

If you have your own tips or lessons on ‘How To Write’, or links you think we should know about, feel free to leave them in the comments section, we’re all about sharing here.

So… my name’s Gabriel and, despite working as a reporter for so many years, it took a long time until I accepted what I do to be art, or that it could be considered art. I still have a hard time saying it out loud… weird but true.

Weird because it’s so obvious being a writer is who I am, and who I have been, not just what I do. For example, my little brother’s leather high school jacket had four different sports on his sleeves — track, volleyball, basketball… I think beer was the fourth.

My sleeve, however, had “Poetry”. It should have been ‘Writer’, which, to be honest, was the only thing I was really good at — it also would have encouraged me (an anxiety ridden, self-conscious teen) to wear the jacket more often. Either way, writing was the only reason I survived high school… but that’s a whole other issue I’m still discussing with several therapists.

“…writing isn’t about simply leaving material for someone to read. It’s about forcing your ideas into their brain and overwhelming their imagination until they see exactly what you want them to see.”

I wrote that… it’s a little further down in the essay, actually.

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Social media strategies… now we have one, and we’re willing to share.

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Welcome to our new blog…

We’ve decided to take our entire social media strategy in a slightly different direction… in that we decided to actually make it a priority. Until now we’ve limited ourselves to a static website — which looks awesome — and our Facebook page where we announce upcoming events.

But the problem with a static website is, there’s no reason to come back on a regular basis. So all of that wonderful information on local artists gets lost in the archives. And the problem with keeping our Facebook page all to ourselves — by only updating when there’s one of our events, is we get lost in Facebook news feeds filled with LOL cats and updates on dinner menus.

Done properly Facebook can be an awesome tool for artists and artisans, but if a page isn’t updated regularly and often, it gets ignored. And that’s just not fair to either the artists we exhibit, or the ones we could be helping get their start.

It also just doesn’t seem right to be so limited when the Internet is so unlimited… besides, this region has so many great artists who need more exposure, and we can help. So, instead, now we’re now going to (also) highlight artists and artisans from the Vankleek Hill region on our Facebook page, even if they’re not currently showing at our Gallery.

And we’ve also created a blog where we can post biographies and videos showcasing local artists and artisans — including letting our social media subscribers know where and when their shows will be held… we know we can help artists reach a larger audience.

And we know we can use social media to form partnerships with arts groups and councils to not only improve the services we offer at the Gallery, but to make the audiences for local artists even larger.

Frankly, there are things we can help with, and things we need help with.

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Photos from the 5th Annual Eros Show… but not the nudes. You have to show up for those.

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…these are some photos we took at Saturday’s (very successful) vernissage for the 5th annual Eros Show at the Arbor Gallery.

For anyone who couldn’t make it, the show continues until March 9, 2014. For those of you who could make it, thanks for making it one of our favourite shows of the year. The Eros Show, our annual Valentine’s Day show, has become a tremendously successful event for the Gallery.

This year features art from Isabella Di Sclafani, John Greenwald, Mark Greenwald, Eva Hoedman, Susan Jephcott, Reenie Marx, Erica Taylor and Roy Whiddon.

…if you’d like to find out more about the show, you can contact us here:, call us at 1-877-616-5086, or check out our homepage.


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