Great Migration Paint-Out showcases local arts community

by Adam Gault

This year’s Kingsville Migration Festival included the first ever Great Migration Paint-Out which was a perfect way to showcase talent from across Essex County in a safe and physically distanced manner.

  Brought forward to the Migration Festival committee in early 2019 by local artists, and the husband and wife team of Layne and Elaine Van Loo, the event featured 17 artists from across the region who took part in an “en plein air” painting exercise. For the event, the artists spread out across Kingsville to paint different landscapes and outdoor scenery, beginning on Thursday, October 15. An exhibition and judging later took place at the Grovedale House and Community Hall on Sunday afternoon.

  “Artists in this competition were sent outside to paint, and that was the only real restriction,” Arts Society of Kingsville member, Layne Van Loo, explained. “The artists were able to go out, and spread themselves out in the town, there’s quite a variety of different subjects and it makes for a nice show.”

  And spread themselves out they did, as artists could be found across every corner of the town over the course of the weekend, from downtown corners, docks, parks, country side roads, and everywhere in between. Each of the artists captured a different part of Kingsville, highlighting the natural beauty and structures that make up “Canada’s most southern town.”

  “It’s to feel like we did something this year, that you actually participated in something bigger,” Jennifer Merritt of Belle River’s Purple Art Studio said, while painting near the water at Lakeside Park. “As soon as I saw [the Great Migration Paint-Out], I thought I wanted to give this a try and be part of it. Say that we did it for 2020.”

  For the exhibition, works were judged by Bruce Bezaire, a Windsor native and an accomplished professor of art, in several key categories, including formal excellence, such as mastery of colour, shape, and texture, technical expertise, a fresh and unique vision of the subject, and a work that conveys an idea and evokes emotion.

  With that criteria in mind, first prize was awarded to Denise Antaya, a Kingsville resident, for her work titled “Morning Hope,” which captured the sunrise from her residential street.

  “I’m shocked, it’s fabulous, but I’m shocked,” Antaya said upon being awarded first prize, adding that the event was an incredible way to highlight a number of exceptional local artists.

  “This is fantastic, because this area has a lot of talent, and they need to recognize that. I’m thrilled that we’re doing this.”

  The pieces were available for sale at the exhibition, with a 20 percent commission going towards funding next year’s Migration Paint-Out, which is sure to become a staple at Migration Fest for many years to come.