CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Rewarding arts excellence in our community

By Fiona Campbell/Quinte Arts Council

For over 25 years the Quinte Arts Council has commemorated the importance of art and artists to our community with our Arts Recognition Awards. Each year we recognize and celebrate those in the Quinte Region who have contributed to the arts through their creating, teaching, mentoring, administrating and inspiration. Without exception, these individuals are making Quinte a destination for those craving a vibrant arts and culture scene.

“This year has been challenging for so many people and on so many levels that we thought it even more important to celebrate those who are making our lives a lot brighter through their contributions to the arts,” said Janet Jarrell, QAC executive director. “Each year we welcome nominations from the community for a local arts champion who deserves to be recognized for their artistic excellence, cultural leadership and/or contribution to the arts, and this year we are thrilled to celebrate five exceptional individuals.”

The Quinte Arts Council is pleased to announce the following recipients of this year’s Arts Recognition Awards:

Peter Davis: Peter was the first designer of the QAC’s publication Umbrella, retiring in 2012 after 20 years. He grew up in a house full of paint and clay and knew early on this would be his profession. After high school in Toronto, he went to England where he studied at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in London. He returned to Toronto where he worked as a painter, illustrator, photographer and graphic artist for magazines such as Maclean’s, Financial Post, Quest and Homemakers.

“He was a born teacher and loved to share his knowledge and passion for the arts. When young or emerging artists would drop into the QAC asking for advice and guidance, he’d happily sit down with them to look at their work, share his experiences, and answer their questions about art and the business of being a painter,” says long-time colleague and close friend Carol Bauer.

On December 21, 2019, Peter Davis passed away peacefully at home at the age of 82, after a long decline. He is survived by Jane Mackenzie, his partner of 49 years, his daughter Kim Davis, and many nieces and nephews. The arts community lost a dear friend, colleague and talented artist that day. He will be greatly missed.

Carol Bauer: During high school, Carol Bauer attended summer theatre workshops at the University of Waterloo, and then went on to receive a degree in English Drama from Brock University. Her first real job was organizing an arts festival at Niagara College. Moving to the Maritimes, she learned traditional music and dance, and began running workshops and joined a professional group that performed for several years in eastern Canada and New England. She also taught at the Quinte Ballet School of Canada for six years. Her career also includes writing and producing promotional material for the Mariposa Folk Foundation.

She spent almost 25 years at the QAC where she worked alongside Peter Davis on the Umbrella. Her focus was on arts education and performing arts programs overseeing memorable programs such as The Jeunesses Musicales Series of Classical Music and Opera, the Kids’ Playhouse Series, the World Music and Dance program, the spectacular Two Weeks in May Festival of the Arts and so many more. Carol Bauer has made a significant contribution and impact on our local arts community.

Marilyn Lawrie: Marilyn pursued studies in Media Arts/Theatre Development and Management Studies at Sheridan College, and a B.A. in Creative Arts, Theatre major from York University.

She has many career highlights including stage managing the musical created by artistic director Caroline Smith that opened the Stirling Festival Theatre. As executive director at Quinte Ballet School of Canada, she and Catherine Taylor created, in just four months, a show featuring Quinte Ballet dancers and local performers at the Empire Theatre. She credits her term as executive director at the QAC for connecting with, and promoting, so many artists. And, her time as director of production at Opera Lyra Ottawa and as the general manager/concert manager at Quinte Symphony fostered a “deep respect for musicians.” Lawrie has made a significant contribution to the arts and continues to have a major impact on our local arts community.

Christopher Bennett: Christopher, a well-known visual artist, dancer, teacher, entrepreneur behind SeRnA custom Artwork, and muralist, who completed the “Essential Workers” mural on Dundas Street West during the COVID-19 pandemic, is an enthusiastic advocate for the arts and provides opportunities for both youth and adults to “learn, grow and find their passions through the arts and express themselves passionately and freely.”

Born in Trenton and moving to Belleville at age 8, Bennett is proud of his roots but acknowledges he followed a solitary and self-directed path. He discovered rap at age 8, graffiti art and hip hop at age 12, but when he looked around at the art forms in his community he realized, “there is no one else doing graffiti art here, no break-dancers, no rap music here – why not?” Bennett has indeed become a well-known artist in this community, and his accomplishments continue to inspire.

Jennifer Pries, Winner of the Emerging Artist Award: Jenny graduated from Sheridan College in Art Fundamentals and the interdisciplinary arts program where she studied illustration, design, media arts and writing. She has been selling her paintings since she was 12 years old. She works in acrylic, watercolour, gouache, ink and oil, but acrylic is her preference.

She owns and operates Studio on the Farm in Roslin, Ont., a home-based studio and workshop, and teaches in different disciplines: painting, drawing, printing, and traditional fibre arts (needle felting, crochet and more!) and DIY workshops, encouraging creativity in those around her. Studio on the Farm is also a micro-farm and Jenny raises pastured KuneKune x Large Black pork in addition to running the art studio. She has taught in our local schools, teaching 80 grade 2 students Christmas sign making. “She was an amazing teacher to these young artists. Each student was extremely proud of his/her work and I had many compliments from parents,” says Carrie Peltzer, teacher at Stirling Public School. Her Facebook sketch club created during COVID-19 helped keep artists inspired, engaged and creative.

While we were unable to host the annual Luncheon for the Arts to celebrate these individuals and their achievements with the greater community in person, this November each recipient and their guest joined members of the QAC for a delicious (and socially distant) lunch at Dinkel’s Restaurant in downtown Belleville where they were presented with a one-of-a-kind engraved award.

There will also be a special Virtual Arts Recognition Awards Celebration on Thursday December 3, 2020, featuring invited guest Mayor Mitch Panciuk and musical guests Instant Rivalry. Register here. (It’s free!)

Thank you to our sponsor Elexicon Energy, our gracious host Paul Dinkel of Paulo’s/Dinkels Restaurant and James “Grumpsy” Walt for designing and creating the awards.