Retired Medic art featured in Pop Up Art show

From May 2 until the start of September, The Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio will be coordinating a travelling art exhibit and art workshops, called Pop Up Art, showing up at a variety of venues, from municipal buildings, public venues, and private business. Pop Up Art will feature an exhibit called Extraordinary Renfrew County.

“Our mandate is to provide access to meaningful, creative art experiences for people in Renfrew County and the Ottawa Valley. We’re interested in enabling people to have access physically and economically to art. We recognize that there currently is not a public art venue in the whole of Renfrew County, which is problematic for several reasons. 

“We thought why is this and how can we address this issue because the people who live here need to be able to access public art experiences. So we partnered with the Community Resource Center in Killaloe, a social service organization, and we decided to write an application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation,” said Anya Gansterer, co-artistic director with the Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio. 

“I think that art therapy and the arts, in general, is an excellent way to help serving and veterans find their way through PTSD, depression or other difficult issues,” said Nearing, a 25-year veteran.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation provided the seed money for this project. It is one-time funding that they are using as a pilot project. If their project is successful, then they can apply for a grow grant based on the response to the project.

The exhibit features 11 artists from Renfrew County and the Ottawa Valley, who will use a variety of mediums to explore the extraordinary in the everyday. The artists’ mediums include paint, glass, ceramics, film, and blacksmithing.

“One of the artists is Derek Nearing, and he’s a retired medic who worked in the military for years. He was practicing art as an adjunct to his therapy. He has a piece in the exhibit, and he’s using a process called Kintsugi, which is a Japanese art form. So in Kintsugi, you break a piece of ceramic and then you build it back up again with gold,” said Gansterer, “It’s a really moving analogy as well for mental health.”

Nearing, a 25-year veteran, spent the first 10 years of his career as a medic and the latter as a Physician Assistant, credits art therapy as a tool that has helped him find his way through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. 

“I think that art therapy and the arts, in general, is an excellent way to help serving and veterans find their way through PTSD, depression or other difficult issues,” said Nearing. “As a senior non commissioned officer in the CAF who was released 3B, art therapy has helped me find my way back. My goal is to share my experience and through this maybe give others hope that it does get better.”

The pop-up locations are as follows:

Fifth Chute Café: Eganville, May 2 to 19 (also the official launch event)

Dundonald Hall Fitness Sports and Aquatic Centre: CFB, Petawawa, May 23 to June 9

Arnprior Public Library: June 13 to 30

Deep River and District Hospital: July 4 to 21

Madawaska Coffee: Barry’s Bay, July 25 to August 11

Renfrew Visitor Information Centre: August 15 to September 1

For more information, visit the Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio website.

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Deborah van der Linde

Deborah is a librarian who is passionate about books, storytelling, and writing. Thanks to her husband Adam’s military career, they have had the great fortune of living all across Canada. Deborah and Adam have two delightful children and a dog that thinks he’s one of the kids.

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