Art Centre a place to share creative ideas

Story and photos by Casey Lessard

“We’ve been talking about it for ten years,” Grand Bend artist Teresa Marie says of the newly launched Grand Bend Art Centre. “I just got tired of listening to my own voice.”
The centre, housed in the same building as the River Road Gallery and the new Sunset Arts gallery on River Road, runs one-day workshops for visual arts lessons and is intended as a home for arts in the community.
Grand Bend Strip - July 16, 2008 - Grand Bend Art Centre 3516“There was a space left open (after renovations by landlord Milford Purdy), and I thought this was as good a place as any for an arts centre. I made a deal with Milford and he let me have the space.”
The room is just enough for about a dozen people to sit and work at tables, although the space could accommodate other activities, such as yoga.
“I want to see it used four or five days a week,” Teresa Marie says. “I want to see at least three or four workshops a week. We have a place to get together, grow and share creative ideas.
“We have a large retirement community here, with not a lot to do. What do you do when it rains? What do you do in the winter? I hope we’ve planted a seed here for anything that’s creative.”
“All of us have a lot of creativity in us,” says Toronto French and Spanish teacher Dorothy Donley, who took one of the centre’s first workshops, “and it’s a way of releasing it and getting satisfaction out of something you’re not used to doing.”
The location is ideal, especially to fit Teresa Marie’s goal to create an arts core.
“It’s gorgeous being here on the river,” workshop attendee Cathy Lawn of Poplar Hill says. “It’s not far for me to come; it might be as far for me to go to London.”
Grand Bend Strip - July 16, 2008 - Grand Bend Art Centre 3511Grand Bend artist Debra Bailey is one of the instructors, and she sees the centre’s long-term potential.
“I see the Arts Centre as a 12-month enterprise, not just for the summer. I think a lot of local people would be more inclined to come starting in September. There’s a good opportunity for teaching, and I think it will help tie the art community together.”
While workshops are the key attraction, memberships are the principal funding source. It costs $50 to join, and members get discounts at area restaurants and art supply stores, as well as discounts on workshops and the River Road Gallery calendar. The centre needs 350 memberships to be fully funded for the year.
“My long-term goal is to get this into the hands of a future arts foundation for Grand Bend. It’s part of a larger plan to get Grand Bend focused in an active direction that’s creative. I hope this will grow into other buildings, that more artists will come here, and that Grand Bend will develop a really strong cultural artists’ community.”
It’s an idea supported locally; among other donors, the Rotary club gave $3000 to support the project.
“This was Teresa Marie’s vision,” says Debra Bailey, “and bless her, she’s accomplished it. There’s been no place to take a workshop in Grand Bend.”

Grand Bend Strip - July 16, 2008 - Grand Bend Art Centre 3499Workshops run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and include:
Saturday, July 26
Plug into your Creativity w/ Suzette Terry
Sunday, July 27
Basic Painting in Oils w/Teresa Marie
Wednesday, July 30
Drawing w/ Teresa Marie
Sunday, August 10
Basic Portraiture in Oils w/ Teresa Marie
Thursday, August 14
Shoot like a Pro! with Mary Lynn Fluter
Friday, August 15
People in Watercolour w/ Mary Abma

Members pay $75 (materials supplied) or $55 (own materials). Non-members pay $80 (materials supplied) or $60 (own materials).
To register or suggest a class, visit the River Road Gallery (River Road, Grand Bend), or call 519-872-7824 or 519-238-6874.