Hot Topics – Artists Come Home to Durham Region

Hot Topics come from the desk of Jacquie Severs, Manager of Communications & Social Media

Durham Region is home to a multitude of artists, craftspeople, designers, and musicians. With a blossoming creative community gaining momentum, it is interesting to see artists and musicians who have moved to other communities return to their roots, even if for a brief visit.

Artists move for many reasons; post-secondary education, adventure, to seek new audiences, for love, for opportunity. Rare is an artist who stays in one place their whole career, though equally rare is an artist that doesn’t have a fondness, of one sort or another, for their home town.


Tonight the RMG officially opens Revealing Spaces, Curated by Sonya Jones, that is an exhibition of works by three artists who each have personal ties to Durham Region.  Andrea Carvalho spent her formative teen years in Uxbridge, where her parents still reside today, though she now lives and works in Montreal. Carvalho’s work is contemporary and highly conceptual installation work that explores space and human relationships within it.

Shaun Downey, Oshawa born-and-raised, paints portraits of people in his life, in spaces he inhabits, in incredible colour, light, and realism. His artistic practice is now located in Toronto, though his work has taken him as far abroad as the BP Portrait Gallery in London, England. Some of his works in this exhibition directly reference his former and current homes, for example his self portrait, titled Oshawa Shirt, Toronto Jacket. Shaun made a video promoting this exhibition: 


Kate Wilhelm, who grew up with her family in Orono, is a photographer who offers a glimpse at the public and private lives of the women of Roller Derby. Now living and working in Guelph, Kate’s photographs explore how public identity is constructed, while domestic private lives can present an entirely different picture.

Each artist’s work can be viewed within a concept of space; physical space, private space, public space, our relationship to spaces past and present, even our relationships to spaces we transition through.  The artists will be present tonight  (Friday 6 July, 2012) at the opening reception event for Revealing Spaces, held from 7 to 10pm as part of the monthly RMG Fridays event series.


Two bands are performing at the event, each with their own links to Durham Region. SPORTS are a four piece band that play out of Toronto, but members of the band grew up in Bowmanville. They play swirly pop-rock that some have compared to Fleetwood Mac or Flaming Lips. In addition, The Mark Inside, a four piece rock band originally from Whitby, but who are now based out of Toronto, are visiting the RMG event to play a set, bringing their rock and roll energy home again.


But what is the message of this return-to-roots story? I believe it is the creation of opportunity and the offering of inspiration. By creating spaces and venues for artists and musicians to return home to, we help to encourage our community development. We show that not only is there something to return for, but we also show that there is a world beyond our door step. For young artists this is an essential message; and in turn it encourages emerging local talent by providing motivation and a foundation for their careers.  

Can’t make it? Revealing Spaces is on at the RMG from July 6 to August 26.

Missed the bands? Follow them on facebook to stay up to date with their upcoming shows:

the mark inside



The Curator’s View: Maralynn Cherry’s Retirement Farewell

From the desk of Linda Jansma, Curator.


It’s a word that Maralynn Cherry brought up different times in her talk at Bowmanville’s Visual Art Centre last Friday evening.

The context was Maralynn’s farewell fête as she is retiring from her position as the art centre’s Curator. I felt privileged to be one of some 75 people who came to wish Maralynn well and thank her for what she brought to the visual arts in the Durham Region.

I’ve known Maralynn for many years having curated her work into a two-person exhibition, as well as engaged her as a writer for one of our publications. We also participated in a series of Curatorial workshops many years ago that were held at the VAC. Maralynn is an intelligent, creative, inquisitive and compassionate individual and all of those attributes were made clear through the work of the artists she brought into the VAC and the beautifully crafted essays that she wrote.


Maralynn speaks with Sean McQuay at her farewell event. Photo by Jean-Michel Komarnicki

Back to hospitality. Maralynn has made the VAC a place where both artists and visitors are made to feel welcome. She was able to encourage and accommodate visions and share those with the curious, the inquisitive and the knowledgeable. She finished her talk by stating that in the end, it’s about the artist. It sounds obvious, but in the midst of grant writing, fund raising, facility management, programming, etc., we can lose sight of the fact that without the artist and the art, there’s not much for us to work with. Maralynn understands that and deeply values and respects the artistic vision. As an artist herself, this may be one of the reasons she’s moving beyond the VACshe has spent years encouraging artists and now needs to more fully and deeply engage with her own artistic practice.  

From one Durham Region curator to another: thank you Maralynn.