By Karen Graham
Valerie Kent has been busy. The renovations on her studio gallery art school just north of the four corners of Cavan are nearing completion, and she can`t wait to move in. On the main level, Valerie will offer a gallery featuring works at accessible prices from local and favourite artists, including pieces of her own work. A well-known artist, art teacher, art judge and art writer, Valerie`s most recent pieces are part of a 21 piece collection entitled The Marketplace, where she captures the essence of market places around the world that she has visited during her travels, including exotic markets in Istanbul, Morocco and the far east. Her style in these works is abstract, and she relies on vivid colours and dramatic brush strokes to illustrate images of traditions and rituals from ancient and modern times. Two of the pieces in this collection are part of Galerie Q’s newest exhibition entitled La Feminine, which begins on April 23rd.
These days, the only brushes she will be lifting will be used to paint the walls and floors of her new work space.
During the renovations, Kent has been spending time getting to know the community and offering her art skills to local school children. She has visited four local elementary schools, including North Cavan, Millbrook South Cavan, Grandview and Rolling Hills, where she has provided print making and art classes to over 800 local students. She hopes to see them again this summer as she opens up her Art Camp at her new Cavan Art school. Together with the help of retired Lakefield College School Art teacher Lynda Warren, she is offering weeklong art programs for three different age levels in her Children`s Summer Art Camp. Each week will have a complete curriculum designed around a theme and delivered by professional artists. For students 15 years and older, there will be the opportunity to build a portfolio of work to help them qualify for post-secondary art opportunities.
The artistic opportunities are not only for the kids. An experienced instructor, Kent has over a dozen workshops scheduled for the next three months in a variety of locations, covering topics such as watercolour, abstracts, printing and mixed media collages. For more casual art instruction opportunities, Valerie will host private painting events, where private groups can try their hand at a specific project or technique based on a selected image. The Friday evening event will begin with a blank 16 by 20 inch canvas and a plan, followed by step by step instructions. Supplies are included and at the end of the session, participants take home a finished product.
Her largest project is scheduled for the weekend of October 1st, when she will launch the 1st Annual Cavan/Millbrook Outdoor Painting Festival in conjunction with Canada Culture Days. The event begins on Saturday where registered participants paint in the area, submitting finished works by 1 pm the following day to a jury of two competition judges. Participating artists will prepare an original work inspired by of one of the panoramic views of the rolling hills of Cavan Monaghan Township, an Cavan or Baxter creek, or a view of farms and fields in the immediate area. Visitors are encouraged to watch the artists at work on both days and free children’s activity centers will be set up in the Village of Millbrook. A musical event is also planned for Saturday evening at the Legion. An awards reception will follow the judging at the Stewart barn in Cavan on Sunday. For more information on the Cavan Art Academy and Gallery, or to register for any of the events, visit www.cavanarts.ca.