Traveling to Buckhorn and visiting the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival is always a great experience! Even though we have visited it many times, the experience never becomes “old”. It’s amazing how many long time friends and acquaintances we see there each year! For me, it’s always the joy to see what’s new, both in the art of our friends and acquaintances and the new artists that are being featured. If you have never been to the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival, I would suggest you are missing a really great event! Buckhorn is easy to get to and is only a few hours drive from Toronto.
2012 Buckhorn Fine Art Festival
For Art Lovers...
I have been to the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival once before, but only to perform so I didn’t get a chance to look around. After getting that chance this year, I certainly wish I had. With over forty exhibits and live music, the B.F.A.F. is definitely a must for lovers of the arts.
35th Anniversary Gala
The Buckhorn Fine Art Festival Gala Preview Night was a great chance to explore the festival without such a large crowd. Each artist was asked to submit a piece for a the 35th Anniversary Exhibit along one end of the Community Centre, however this exhibit was rather dark, had minimal signage, and could easily be missed if you were keeping your attention on the artists’ booths. There was art for just about any budget, from free samples right up to a $35,000 soapstone carving. The live music at the Gala, a Spanish group, was fun and at just the right volume so you could hear it but still be able to hear yourself think and speak at a comfortable volume. The entrance gate on Gala night seemed a bit disorganized. If you had your tickets you went one direction, but those who wanted to purchase or pick up reserved tickets had to go the other direction and then back in the other to pick up the free tote bag and program. The organizers put together a scavenger hunt; get your card signed by thirty-five of the artists and receive a free print of the art from the front of the program. This was a good way to encourage people to visit the entire festival, but the artists, especially on the Gala night, were often busy talking with patrons and other artists and I’m sure most people wouldn’t interrupt the conversations just for a print. The Gala night also featured a wine tasting featuring wine from Colio Estate Wines in Essex, and Casa-Dea Estate Winery in Prince Edward County. I don’t drink wine but those who did seemed to enjoy the nine wines offered. All in all, the 35th Buckhorn Fine Art Festival was a great show with only a few very minor hiccups.
2007 Buckhorn Fine Art Festival
Back To The Beginning…
Over 20 years ago Judi and I were introduced to the "Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival". We were living in the Toronto area at the time and a friend, who lived and worked in Peterborough, suggested we visit them and visit the festival with them. We accepted and that was the real start of our love for festivals. We had a great time on that first visit, so much so that we have only missed visiting the festival two times in 23 years. That first visit was the start of collecting fine art and becoming friends with many artists. Attending the Buckhorn Festival has become a yearly ritual for many people. Although the festival has changed over the years, the quality and integrity of the art has not. The Buckhorn Fine Art Festival (new name) is located in the heart of the Kawarthas, near the tiny village of Buckhorn. You know you’ve entered the village when you pass the “Buck” statue that was presented to the village by the festival committee so many years ago. Each year the festival is “kicked off” with a Grand Opening on Friday night. This year Buckhorn celebrated their 30th anniversary and in a fitting tribute they honoured the man who started it all, Edwin Matthews. Unfortunately Judi and I could not be there, but we met Ed the next day. Seeing Ed brought back many fond memories of visiting his beautiful creation, “Gallery-on-the-Lake”. It is still operating (with different owner) and is as beautiful as ever. I’ll take more about this gallery a little later in this article. Driving to the festival was like putting on an old comfortable pair of shoes. It was like driving back in time. We passed our old home located on Upper Chemong Lake (AKA Mud Lake) and then drove into Buckhorn, where we had passed through Lock 31 so many times. Shortly after we had left Buckhorn, we reached our final destination, the festival off-site parking lot. The shuttle bus was there waiting to take visitor to the festival grounds…
Art and Artists…
The shuttle bus dropped us off right at the main entrance. There is a
back way from the parking lot to the festival grounds, but we chose the
bus. We paid our admissions (adults - $6.00 and seniors/students $5.00)
and went through the gate in to the festival. From experience we turned
right and headed for the Community Centre building. This is the largest
of the buildings and holds the most artists. The Buckhorn Festival is
all about artists and their art. It is a celebration of the talent and
effort that goes into each creation. Over the next few sections I am going
to introduce a few of the artists and their art. Most of the artists I
have chosen to talk about are know to Judi and me. We have watched them
grow and develop over the years. As artists we appreciate their talents.
As friends and acquaintances we appreciate their comradeship and advice.
Our first artist is Julia Conlon. We met Julia at the
Cobourg Waterfront Festival (Click HERE
to view article) many years ago. She was a fresh and eager artist ready
to please festival visitors with her depictions of every day occurrences.
Julia and her husband, Marty, traveled Buckhorn from their home and gallery
which are located in Windsor, Ontario.
Next is Marilyn Mercer. For a number of years Marilyn’s
Cobourg Waterfront Festival was next to Judi’s.
Over the course of several days and years we had the chance to become
familiar Marilyn, her art and her humour. Marilyn’s home and studio/gallery
are in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. Marilyn experiments with different media and
subjects, but she is best known for her floral paintings which are absolutely
More Art and Artists…
Our next stop was at Glen Loates booth. (Click HERE
to read the Nomad's article about Glen) ArtGlen was this year’s
feature artist. Glen is one of the most interesting people I have ever
met. Although he is best known as a wildlife artist, his very inquisitive
mind takes him into many areas of interest, a writer, a cartoonist, a
collector, a model maker and he was the first artist to descend 5,117
feet in a submersible, to study and record deep-sea life in the Atlantic
Ocean. My most vivid memory of Glen was at a friend’s home in Pittsburgh.
We were sitting at the kitchen table looking out the window, Glen, as
usual had a pencil and paper in his hands. A male cardinal had just landed
of the branch of a nearby tree and Glen started furiously to sketch the
bird’s image. It took him only a few minutes to complete, but piece
would have been a wonderful addition to anyone’s art collection.
Glen and his wife Sally live north of Toronto.
Our forth artist is Linda Goodrow. Linda is a wildlife
photographer whose African wildlife portraits are spectacular. At first
Linda’s photography was a hobby, taking pictures of her children,
but it grew over the years, until she realized her lifelong dream of traveling
to Africa. As a result of her trip, Linda published her photographs in
her book, African Dreams. Linda’s home is Burlington, Ontario
Our Journey Continued…
The sixth artist to be featured is Johannus Boots. Each
of John’s works tells a story both in the actual image and the hidden
images scattered throughout each piece. Some are easier to see than others.
The skill and thought that goes into each of his paintings is truly inspiring.
The stories that he tells are of nature and the human spirit. Judi and
I have admired Johannus’s work for many years and given several
prints to our family. Even his website is spiritual. John currently lives
The eight artist is Brent Townsend.
Brent is a wonderful wildlife artist known for his expansive canvases
whose scenes depict the “intimate connection the animals have with
their habitat”. Although Brent has been appreciated worldwide by
art collectors, he is likely best known in Canada for his Polar Bear design
that can be seen on the back of Canada’s two dollar coin. His hometown
of Campbellford has erected a monument to his accomplishment. Brent’s
work along with other amazing artists can be seen at his Gallery, Townsend’s,
which is now located in Warkworth, Ontario. Brent and his wife Kelly and
their children still live in beautiful Campbellford.
Our Final Three Art and Artists…
Eddie LePage (Click HERE
to read the Nomad's article about Eddie) and I have been friends and business
associates for a long time. Our friendship has transcended time and change.
Eddie is recognized throughout North America for his inspirational paintings
of First Nations people, animals and their relationship with one another.
A number of years ago Bradford Exchange used an Eddie
LePage image called “Retreat” on one of their collector plates.
The plate quickly sold out (very rare!) and a whole Eddie LePage “Wolf”
series was born. From that humble beginning Eddie’s wolf images
have been used by Bradford on many different collectible items. So much
so that Eddie is one of Bradford’s most collected artists. Eddie’s
originals and prints can be seen at his son and daughter-in-law’s
gallery, Native Focus, in Port Perry, Ontario (Website:
http://nativefocus.net/ ) Eddie
and his wife Kim live in Peterborough, Ontario.
Many years ago Judi and I purchased a small Paul Brunelle limited edition sculpture. It was of four chickadees. It was one of our
first art purchases. We loved it when we first purchased it and it remains
one of our favourite pieces. Over the years, we have attended many Buckhorn
and other art shows and have seen Paul’s work many times. I have
always marveled at Paul’s talent and the precision of his work.
The Rest of the Show…
We left the artists huts and headed for the food tent Buckhorn always provides excellent food for its attendees. After we finished our lunch, we moved to the amateur art tent. As we entered a volunteer handed us a Fine Art Competition ballot for the People’s Choice Award. There were several classes to chose from, Hobby Artist Class- Acrylic, Oil, Pastel, Watercolour, Teenage, Novice and Open. All of the art on display was excellent and choosing one over another was difficult. Also displayed in the tent was the wood carving show and competition. The carvings were absolutely amazing; to be able to take a block of wood and turn it into something so special is beyond my comprehension. There was even a carvers store in the tent were carvers and would-be carvers could purchase supplies. Just outside the tent’s exit was a chainsaw carving demonstration, by artist Doug Brooks. Watching a chainsaw carver is always great fun if not a little noisy. The speed with which most chainsaw carvers work is surprising and a bit scary. It makes me think of “Freddy Krueger” (Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street). Time was moving on and we wanted to visit some local art galleries. A good friend of ours was exhibiting at one of them. The shuttle bus took us back to our car and then we were off to our next stop…
After leaving the festival parking lot we headed west to a local Gallery. Our artist friend Mary Kendrick was exhibiting there and we wanted to visit with her and see her new paintings. (Click HERE to read the Nomad's article about Mary) The gallery invites Mary and James Lumbers annually to exhibit during the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival.
We have known Mary Kendick for many years and have admired her work since the beginning of our friendship. Many of her beautiful original floral and landscape oil paintings grace our walls. When we were organizing the first Cobourg Waterfront Festival, one of our tasks was to convince artists that it would be a great festival to participate in. I knew if I could talk Mary into coming, other artists would follow. A friend and I traveled to Windsor’s Art In The Park to see Mary and other artist. We approached Mary first and gave her our sales pitch. She immediately said yes! Judi and I told her she had to stay with us during the Festival. She happily (?) accepted. For over 15 years her visits to our home each year were anticipated with great excitement. She became and is part of our family.
The other artist featured
is internationally collected James Lumbers. James is
best known for his “Moments In Time” series.
His paintings tell stories of past and present. He accomplishes this by
painting ghost like images of the past within a modern setting. It is
amazing to see how people react when they look at one of Jim’s paintings.
I have seen happiness, sadness and self reflection, but most of all I
have seen people remembering their past.
Our Second Gallery Stop…
We bid our goodbyes to Mary Kendrick and headed back
east through Buckhorn to Gallery-on-the-Lake. This is
the gallery that Barb and Edwin Matthews built and it is one of the most
beautiful galleries in Canada. From the parking lot we walked up the gravel
driveway to the gallery. The gallery is situated on a rocky ridge overlooking
lower Buckhorn Lake. To get into the gallery you have to walk up several
step (they do have a wheelchair ramp) and the go through large double
doors into the main reception area. The central octagon shaped room, when
Judi and I visited, was featuring the art of James Keirstead.
Off the centre room are a number of large side display rooms. Each room
features different artists. The rooms are spacious enough to be able to
hang large works of art without them looking out of place. The number
of artists represented is impressive. Towards the lakeside portion of
the gallery is a larger rectangular room that leds to a Tea Shop. The
shops windows overlook scenic Buckhorn Lake. Underneath this area is the
gallery’s art school. The guest art instructors are the who’s
who of Ontario art. Over top the main octagon room is another similar
shaped large room. Above that is the outlook room. Up there you get a
great view of all the surrounding terrain. The view of the lake is spectacular!
The best time of year to be in this room, however, is fall. The colours
and view are breathtaking! Judi and I have great memories of Gallery-on-the-Lake,
as customers and later as sales representatives of Buckhorn Publishing.
Imagine our surprise and happiness to see former gallery and Buckhorn
Publishing owner Edwin Matthews. Just seeing and talking with him brought
us a great deal pleasure and a little sadness. As we toured the gallery
we were reminded how much the gallery has meant to us over the years.
The new owners have certainly maintained the integrity of Barb and Ed’s
Our Third and Final Gallery Visit…
We were now on our way to the Whetung Ojibwa Crafts and Art Gallery.
The gallery is located south of Buckhorn on the Curve Lake Indian Reserve.
The reserve is nestled between Chemong Lake to the east and Pigeon Lake
to the west. The gallery is a beautiful large log building and houses
a treasure trove of native arts and crafts. Whetung’s features some
of the best North American native artists. These artists include Rick
Beaver, David Johnson, Nori Peters,
Benjamin Chee Chee and Norval Morrisseau.
This weekend they were holding their annual Summer Art Show. Many of the
gallery's feature artists were on site. Owner Michael Whetung and his
family have operated Whetung’s for many years. I can remember our
first visit some 20 years ago. Just walking through the front doors was
an awe inspiring experience. Everywhere you look there are new discoveries,
masks, clothing, sculptures, leather work, jewelry, books and, of course,
fine art. Even though the business has existed for a long time, they seem
to always be re-evaluating what they do and making what they do better.
It is never easy is to make a “quick” trip to Whetung’s,
there is just too much to see.
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