Although Valerie only moved to the community a few years ago, she has made quite an impact here, and was recognized at last week’s annual County Recognition Awards in the Art leadership category.
Upon her arrival in 2015, she immediately began reaching out to the community with her love of art. A well-known artist, art instructor, art judge and art journalist, she approached all four local elementary schools where she eventually delivered art classes to more than 800 children.
In a converted drive shed behind her home on County Road 10 just north of Galerie Q, she has set up a gallery featuring original art by contemporary artists, many of them local. Images range from landscapes, to figurative and abstract pieces in styles ranging from impressionist, post-impressionist, realist, studio and plein air work. At the gallery she also hosts art workshops for budding artists of all ages. Some classes she delivers herself, and some adult classes feature respected local artists such as Lucy Manley and well known plein air painter Keith Thirgood, who heads up the Ontario Plein Air Society.
In the fall of 2016, Kent singlehandedly organized and hosted a weekend-long outdoor painting festival. It attracted more than 75 amateur and professional artists from as far away as British Columbia to compete in an open-air competition inspired by scenes in and around the township. Visitors to the area stopped by to watch the artists in action and cast a vote for their favourite piece. The weekend also included free children’s events, a musical evening.
She is a regular contributor to Canada’s premier art magazine Arabella, and occasionally her work appears in this paper.
She also travels to teach. This summer she will provide a five day watercolour workshop in Collingwood, and last month she hosted several week-long painting workshops in a small village in the picturesque region of the Dordogne, France which precluded her from personally receiving this honour.
Valerie believes that art is for everyone and works every day to inspire those around her to find ways to incorporate art into their lives through the creation or appreciation of the beauty around us. KG