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A Retrospective for Headwaters Arts in 2020

Behind the Scenes… by Connie Munson

A Retrospective for Headwaters Arts in 2020

It was the worst of times before it became the best of times, cycling back yet again to what still could be labelled the worst of times; the verdict pending on these recent weeks With the start of this brave new decade, the classic inventory at a year’s end assumes more importance. The mere chronicling of gains made and things left behind in 2020 should provide grist for the mills of reflection, the impetus to move forward, and a collective whoop of jubilation for Headwaters Arts members.

All told, there is much to celebrate and share from this past year for this vibrant group of artists. There has been an ongoing rollout of scheduled shows, with the gallery committee and coordinators seamlessly moving the viewing of exhibits to the website when the gallery was closed during provincial restrictions. The membership continued to grow, there was a significant rebuilding of the board of directors, and the bringing back of the flagship event, the annual fall festival, which proved to be a triumph of orchestration with the constant changing of provincial guidelines on gatherings allowed for events.

Attendance at the Artful Revival Festival Exhibition in the early fall was very strong! The Alton Mill Arts Centre counted 866 people who walked through those doors during the three-week festival. With high praise from the local dignitaries who attended the afternoon fete or evening gala, there was much to celebrate for Headwaters Arts. Under the leadership of Festival Director, Ari Momeni, the board of directors, with their several committees and volunteers, the inspirational artwork of 52 artists from across Ontario was successfully exhibited in three galleries at the Alton Mill Arts Centre. Furthermore, several arts-related events, both onsite and virtual, were part of the three-week festival in this renowned tourist destination area, the Hills of Headwaters.

Artists from the local area were well-represented with distinctions and awards, with those being announced and presented during the afternoon fete. Likewise, the two scholarship winners announced during the evening gala were from high schools in Erin and Orangeville. At the closing of the show, the People’s Choice Award was announced, going to artist Robert Chisholm of Orangeville, whose piece, Lady Devine, had already placed third in this provincial exhibition.

The return of their annual fall fundraiser and festival demonstrated the versatility and sound planning of the Headwaters Arts board with the combination of virtual access to programming along with on-site scheduling of events. The state-of-the-art Virtual Gallery Tour showed all three galleries of work in this exhibition and was available through early December for viewing and purchases. Ari Momeni, Chair of Special Events, introduced the new technology for the on-site filming of the work in three galleries, later uploaded to the Headwaters Arts website for the spectacular virtual tour.

Four Headwaters Arts members participated in their own very successful ‘proposal shows’ at the Headwaters Arts Gallery. Members Marnie Cooke of Orangeville, Jolanta Jung of Inglewood, and Susan Kelly of Guelph mounted their EAST Greets WEST! exhibit in August, while Sherry Park of Brampton hung Cape Breton Highlands after the festival closed in October. Sherry was then invited to move her exhibit upstairs to The Pond Gallery in the Alton Mill Arts Centre in the late fall, where it continues to hang; available to view and purchase virtually here.

The current show, A New Mood, open to all members,  celebrates an eclectic and energizing collection from seven artists.  With moods and media ranging widely, all are invitations to share these artists’ moods as we move into our new decade.  From landscapes, florals, still life, and abstract pieces in various media, there is a wonderful array of moods explored.  Pensive and considered or pent up with energy bursting forth, contemplative, looking forward with hope, or nostalgic tinged views of simpler moments, strong and bold colours, rich vignettes and spare, minimalist panels.  All of these may be viewed and purchased on the Headwaters Arts website.

The variety and verve in this show embody the spirit and energy of the Headwaters Arts’ current membership and organizational structure. With nine members sitting on the board at the end of 2020 compared to two members at the AGM in May 2019, the way forward is more firmly assured. Marion Plaunt, of the Sponsorship Committee, chairs a vigorous group with their annual and ongoing outreach for area sponsors and applications for various grants. Under the direction of an accomplished curator, Regan Jane Hayward, as chair for the Gallery Committee, the shows continued to be mounted, whether as virtual exhibitions or hung on the walls of the gallery. Ari Momeni, the aforementioned Chair of Special Events, holds a pivotal role in special initiatives and campaigns. The Marketing, Communication, PR committee has grown from one person in February 2020 to encompass two key teams, Social Media posters and the Editorial Team, with close to a dozen volunteers and chaired by Connie Munson.

Evaluations and adjustments to the current website continue under the direction of Jordan Grant, now a member at large on the board and co-owner of the Alton Mill Arts Centre, and Deb Menken, a Gallery Coordinator as well as long-time volunteer in many capacities. Furthermore, also sitting on the executive are new board members, Alex Gregory as Secretary and Jenny Makula as Treasurer, while Margi Taylor, Acting President, guides all with much finesse and aplomb.

Commended by the Honourable Allan Thompson, Mayor of Caledon, at the afternoon fete during the festival, for their determination and resiliency in 2020, the energetic renewal going on within the collective and their many initiatives throughout the past year are more than promising for Headwaters Arts Gallery as they enter this new decade.

E. Connie Munson: Local writer, photographer, and artist covers the arts and cultural scene to share the passion and joy of other creatives and makers. To get in touch with her, e-mail Behind the scenes with …© is a column E. Connie Munson has developed to share an inside look at the creative process within various arts organizations. 

Headwaters Arts
1402 Queen Street West, Alton, Ontario
(519) 943-1149


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