Dennis K. Smith

Amherstburg Freedom Museum and Artists of Colour unveil “Journeys” exhibit

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A new art exhibit is on display at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum with the official opening last Friday night.

“Journeys” debuted with Windsor-Essex County artists contributing work towards the exhibit’s first phase, entitled “New Canaan Journey in Pursuit of Freedom.” The exhibit is described as showing how the Underground Railroad gave birth to the first racially integrated, religiously inspired movement for social change within the United States. The exhibit is further described as one that “speaks of the courage and determination of a people who refused to accept the degradation of slavery. Both black and white stood up against the injustice and demoralization of slavery, risking their lives and livelihood opposing the injustice inflicted upon their brothers and sisters.”

Dennis K. Smith, one of the artists that comprise the Artists of Colour, said the exhibit shows where they came from and what it took to find freedom. He said they hope it travels around as a teaching tool.

Lana Talbot shows one of her paintings that are featured as part of the “Journeys” exhibit at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum through April 1.

Accompanied by musicians Jim Walls and Karzell Dew and conductor Milo Johnston, there was a presentation describing the stories behind the 14 paintings in the Nazrey AME Church before the public went to the second floor of the museum building to view the works themselves.

“We tell our story through art,” explained Smith. “As we tell it, we learn a little more about ourselves.”

Mary-Katherine Whelan, curator at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum, stated the exhibit is about “the journey to freedom.” It is another way to provide an educational tool to those who may not know the history.

“It’s important to tell the story of a generation who refused to accept the degradation of slavery,” said Whelan.

The exhibit will not only run through February, which is Black History Month, but right up until April 1.

Connie Lee-Turner stands with one of her paintings that is part of the “Journeys” exhibit. The art can be viewed on the second floor of the Amherstburg Freedom Museum.

The Artists of Colour also plan an exhibit at Mackenzie Hall in Windsor May 11-20 entitled “Mosaic.”

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum is open Tuesday-Friday 12-5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 1-5 p.m. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $6.50 for students and seniors with Whelan adding that people will get $1 off admission during Black History Month if they can answer when the Nazrey AME Church was built and by whom.

For more information, call 519-736-5433 or visit www.amherstburgfreedom.org. There is also a list posted on the website of other Black History Month events happening, with Whelan noting the list was compiled by the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.

“Across Thresholds” now on exhibit at the Gibson Gallery

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The latest exhibit at the Gibson Gallery invites people to cross the threshold and enjoy seeing different types of things everyone uses every day.

“Across Thresholds” features the work of Dennis K. Smith and Vivian Cattaneo and runs at the gallery through Sept. 3.

“Vivian is the inspiration,” said Smith. “I had taken pictures of doors and said I always wanted to do something.”

That led to the pair teaming up as Cattaneo, who was born and raised in Argentina, returned to her homeland and took pictures of doors and began painting from the photos at Smith’s studio. Smith said he has always been interested in doors as pieces of art, noting they not only keep people out, but invite them in as well.

“We both enjoy the craftsmanship,” added Smith, with some of his work emphasizing the work that goes into creating and using a door.

Dennis K. Smith and Vivian Cattaneo have their work on display at The Gibson Gallery. Their exhibit "Across Thresholds" runs through Sept. 3.

Dennis K. Smith and Vivian Cattaneo have their work on display at The Gibson Gallery. Their exhibit “Across Thresholds” runs through Sept. 3.

“A handle can tell you a lot about the occupant,” said Smith, who has had work in galleries in the Art Gallery of Ontario as well as Michigan.

Cattaneo, who takes classes with Smith, came to Windsor in 1980 and while career stops included the Children’s Aid Society, Huron Lodge and Hiatus House before retiring in 2010, she has also studied architecture.

“I like doors, lamps and windows,” she said. “I have more (paintings) at home.”

The “Across Thresholds” exhibit is her first, she noted and hopes to do more in the future.

“Thanks to Dennis for encouraging me to do it,” said Cattaneo.

Cattaneo also encouraged people to visit Argentina, noting Buenos Aires is very interesting to visit.

The Gibson Gallery is located at 140 Richmond St. and can be found online at www.gibsonartgallery.com.

Their Facebook site can be found at www.facebook.com/GibsonGallery. To find them on Twitter, visit www.twitter.com/ARTamherstburg.

Their phone number is 519-736-2826.