OWEN SOUND, ON – Artists and community members are hard at work preparing for Owen Sound’s inaugural ArtWalk!, an event taking place Saturday June 23rd from 10am to 4pm across the downtown. In preparation for the event, Owen Sound artist Billy Goodkat will lead downtown community members from groups including the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Leisure Links program and Community Living Owen Sound & District in a series of mural paintings, each depicting a historic Owen Sound landmark.
This celebration of Owen Sound’s rich and diverse arts community will see the community-created artworks displayed in 8 downtown galleries and venues on June 23rd:
- 2nd Avenue Gallery
- Owen Sound Multicultural Arts Festival at Georgian Shores United Church
- Owen Sound Artists’ Co-op
- Grey Gallery
- Santa Fe Gallery
- Intersections WOOD gallery & studio
- Tom Thomson Art Gallery
- Gallery de Boer
Owen Sound ArtWalk! was inspired by the desire of a local art supports manufacturer to do something special for the Owen Sound arts community. Bob Nadon founded Upper Canada Stretchers in 2002, and co-founded Upper Canada CNC Studio alongside renowned local designer Grant Nicholson in 2017. His homegrown businesses supply professional quality canvas stretchers and unusually shaped art supports to top artists, galleries, conservators and universities across North America.
“It’s really remarkable to be a part of this particular community, where we have such a wealth of artistic talent and venues,” Bob Nadon of Upper Canada Stretchers said. “We talked with Miranda Miller about possibly helping to organize a local initiative where we could donate some large mural canvases. She connected us with local artist Billy Goodkat, Maryann Thomas from Grey Bruce MOSAIC magazine and Amber Harwood at Georgian Bay Art Conservation, and the idea for this ArtWalk! became a collaboration that really took off from there.”
Goodkat and Miller will participate in a series of painting workshops with community groups in which participants will learn different painting techniques and create their own artwork on Upper Canada Stretchers canvas, within the guidelines of a stenciled historic building.
“It’s a great technique that allows participants to get as creative as they want to be, while giving us an outcome that has some structure and historic significance,” said Billy Goodkat, the artist leading the murals portion of the project. “Grant Nicholson at Upper Canada CNC Studios is creating signage for each gallery and also plaques for each mural, so these community groups will have credit for the art they’re creating and see it displayed in real galleries. Each individual can choose whether to sign their name to it or not. I think it’s a fantastic way to get more of our community involved in the arts and really give them something to feel proud of here in our downtown.”
The canvases built and donated by Upper Canada Stretchers range in size from 40” x 46” to 28” x 60”. Each stretcher is made of quality kiln-dried pine and crafted with UCS’s signature dovetail cornered, keyable design. The 100% pure, professional grade cotton duck canvas has been double-primed with acrylic gesso in preparation for the painters. Georgian Bay Art Conservation sponsored the painting supplies portion of the project, while MOSAIC Magazine assisted in organization and promotion.
“It’s really fantastic that we’re able to give artists and hobbyists in the community access to materials of this quality,” said Bob Nadon. “You can expect murals on stretchers and canvas of this calibre to last just as long as the historic buildings they’re painting. They’re built to last and aren’t going to warp or get bent out of shape with age, so I expect we’ll give our community member painters something to be proud of for quite a long time.”
One mural canvas has been reserved for the general public to paint at the Multicultural Arts Festival on June 23rd.
Organizer Maryann Thomas of the Ginger Press and Grey Bruce MOSAIC magazine hopes the murals will find permanent homes in relevant Owen Sound locations. “We think it would be great to have some of these murals hung permanently in the buildings they depict, and are reaching out to owners and managers now to see if this is possible,” she said.