In what must seem like a blink of an eye, 20 years have passed since the Victoria Park Gallery opened its doors.
Members Jana Mika and Sylvia Melinz are the last of the original members who formed the gallery back in 2001, with the rest having “moved away, others retired and some have passed away,” said Melinz.
Previous to the current gallery, both Mika and Melinz belonged to Visual Arts Kincardine, an arts group that brought together local artisans with common interests to discuss arts and take part in regular outings and workshops. Melinz says Bev Meidow, the then-president of Visual Arts Kincardine was “the driving force in the establishment of the Victoria Park Gallery.”
Today, the Gallery is run as a co-operative, with all 20 members volunteering their time to run the retail outlet in exchange for a space to display and sell their work. Costs of running the Gallery are covered by a commission from the sale of each artist’s work.
Melinz, who holds bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of education degrees from the University of Windsor, moved to the area in 1981 and has taught art at both the high school and college level. She was also involved in the arts community before moving to Kincardine.
She is well known for her work with acrylic paint on canvas and sculptural pieces created from recycled and natural materials.
“I was a founding member of Studio 69 in Napanee,” said Melinz. “When we moved here 40 years ago, I joined Visual Arts Kincardine. We were in various spots over the years and we also had local shows. This (Victoria Park Gallery) gave us a permanent home to show our work.”
Jana Mika immigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia in 1968. Making her original home in Alberta, she finally found herself in Kincardine in 1984.
Mika works in high-fired stoneware and earthenware, creating both functional as well as sculptural pieces, with many of her unique pieces reflecting her love of nature, her garden and Lake Huron. She enjoys the camaraderie and inspiration provided by her artist colleagues.
“I like to be in a group of likeminded people,” said Mika. “All of them have something to do with art. I love paintings and art in home and this is a place where I feel I belong. I do pottery at home and we meet here and give each other a little boost.”
The work of both women will be on display, during the month of August, in a special gallery designated to highlight the work of monthly guest artists.
Both women say new members are always welcome to join the cooperative and can find out more information by visiting the Gallery at 707 Queen Street, Kincardine. The Gallery is open seven days a week from noon until 4 p.m.
Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent