Before the Summer Collectible Art Show & Sale

By: Martha Stroud

Volume 19, Issue 3, March 2024

This year, the organizers of the Before the Summer Show travelled far and wide to find exciting artists who are new to the show, and they have also included some fine craftspeople to add to the variety. This will be the 12th year the show has taken place, and it will again be held at the Firehall Theatre, 185 South Street, Gananoque, on Mother's Day Weekend, May 10 (6pm to 9pm), May 11 (10am to 5pm) and May 12 (10am to 4pm). There will be music by Evening Edition on Friday evening, a cash bar all weekend, and on Sunday, a draw for a gift certificate to the wonderful 1000 Islands Playhouse.

Here is a little bit about some of the new-to-the-show artists and some favourites from previous shows. Next month – the  rest of them!


Monique van Someren

Artwork by Monique van Someren ©2024

Monique van Someren says, " My work celebrates the natural world and the often-overlooked creatures that inhabit it. Oil paint allows me to express my ideas precisely as envisioned, making it the perfect medium for my work. I use this knowledge and my vast collection of photos to create insect and animal themed oil paintings that offer a unique perspective. My paintings take insects from their natural habitats and place them in new environments, often with a twist. By enlarging and focusing on the intricate details of these creatures, I encourage people to see insects in a different light and to appreciate their beauty and importance in our ecosystem . . . "

Laurel Wilson

Artwork by Laurel Wilson ©2024

Laurel Wilson quotes Marc Chagall, who said “Art picks up where nature leaves off.” Through the imagery of trees, she strives to portray the sense of tranquility she feels during her early morning hikes and paddles, when the light is soft, the wind is calm, and she is most likely to be alone. She works from her own photographs using watercolour and oils. Stylistically, the images feature strongly delineated shapes, reminiscent of stained glass, and Art Nouveau. They are created in layers, built up like the rings of a tree, often becoming invisible, yet still contributing to the finished painting.

Jenn Raby

Artwork by Jenn Raby ©2024

Jenn Raby, from Perth, says, "Every artwork I make is a journey that I take with my heart, body, and my sense of wonder. With each of these journeys, I experience firsthand the joy of making art and the excitement of watching it develop before my eyes. With art, I enter into a magical world in which time seems to float on fluffy clouds and all things are possible. Batik is an ancient and complex art, practiced in Egyptian times and in China, Japan, Java, and Indonesia from the 8th century to present day. This art produces decorated cloth for clothing and wall hangings that utilizes textile dyes and wax resist to create unique designs on natural fibres. I also enjoy working with watercolours, a wonderful media so like my batik. I have now incorporated water colour and batik to create 'Batik Watercolour.' Using the processes together, my watercolour artwork does not require glass when framed, thus removing the glare."

Marielle Simzer

Artwork by Marielle Simzer ©2024

Marielle Simzer says, "I feel so lucky to live in this rich, vibrant ecosystem in the Frontenac Arch/Axis region. I spent years living and sailing on the St. Lawrence River and now live on beautiful Charleston Lake. I am primarily a self-taught artist who has spent a lifetime loving and exploring art. While predominantly an oil and palette knife painter with an impressionist style, the art I create is about combining all the layers of my life into something visceral and unique. My creative atelier often tests the boundaries of a traditional style of painting, with depth and boldness and heavy textures. Earthy greens, vivid reds, sunshine yellow, deep blues, and unexpected little swoops of colour are the heart and soul of my paintings. In my work, I paint what I know intimately, what I see and touch daily – the love of nature."

Valerie Spence Hounsell

Artwork by Valerie Spence Hounsell ©2024

Valerie Spence Hounsell, from Odessa, says, " I have always had a love of the outdoors, but it was during young adulthood, while living in rural Ontario, that I began to understand the role that the environment would play in my art. It was then that the Canadian landscape became my passion and the driving force behind my work. As a kayak enthusiast, my view from the water as I paddle through the wetlands has been the primary source of inspiration. Granite shores, quiet inlets, and the rushing waters of the glacial melt are my signature subject matter. I imagine the divine aroma of the pine needles on the forest floor, the warmth of the sun on my face, or the soothing sounds of water lapping up onto the shore as I paint. I savour these moments and draw upon them as I portray these memories on the canvas."

Karen Leslie Hall

Artwork by Karen Leslie Hall ©2024

Karen Leslie Hall moved to Gananoque in 2021. She paints in soft pastel, watercolour, and acrylic, and also enjoys drawing and collage. She has explored still life, landscape, figures, and abstraction. For this show, Karen is presenting contemporary still life paintings that invite the viewer to ponder the beauty of simple, everyday, things. These pieces, painted in acrylic on square canvases, bring together two of her favourite motifs: the elegant simplicity of a single pear (the shapeliest of fruits, reminiscent of the female form) and the dramatic effect of strong light and shadow. The process begins with a grisaille underpainting (image fully rendered in greys), followed by many transparent colour glazes. This results in a smooth, glossy, photo-like finish with depth and nuance.

Barb Carr

Artwork by Barb Hall ©2024

Barb Carr began by working in watercolour and acrylic painting. Afterwards, she branched out into collage and printmaking. Her most recent works are in oil paint, and since the beginning of 2022, she has been painting a small oil painting almost every day. She continues to explore various printmaking processes, and is a member of the printmaking open studio at the Kingston School of Art.

Next month, a little information about the other artists participating in the show: Eda Brown, Rosalyn Insley, Candice Nixon, David Hale, Pamela Prince, Micheal Hart, Ed VanderBaaren, and Jules Crowley.

Don't forget – visit the Firehall Theatre on the Mother's Day Weekend! We look forward to welcoming you to view some wonderful art.

See for more details.

By Martha Stroud

Martha Stroud's family emigrated from Ireland around 1908, to live first in Gananoque, then Kingston, and finally Toronto, where she was born. She has lived and worked on three continents but is very happy to have retired back to Kingston and the Thousand Islands area, where she tries to capture nature ever-changing on canvas. See Martha's past articles and the work of her many artist friends here and here!

Editor's Note: Explaining what artists think and say may seem daunting, but Martha Stroud make it look easy, so much so that we received some questions as to why we failed to publicize a Before the Rush at Christmas - only to find out there was no show at that time.  Therefore we are pleased to present this article and one to follow in April - for those who can attend and those who just appreciate seeing these art works and meeting the artist.  

Posted in: Volume 19, Issue 3, March 2024, event, News article, Artists

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