I love spring.
It’s been said a billion times before, but I’ll repeat it here: spring wakes me up, shakes me up and makes me feel alive again.
We spent the last couple days of our March Break exploring urban landscapes on foot. Travelling up to Kingston, Ontario, one of my favourite places to view real, original, amazing artwork, we were greeted with rain at first, and then with a beautiful, sunny day. We stumbled into a studio space, housed by a number of artists, many of whom were present and welcomed us into their spaces to see what they were working on and what they had already done. They talked to us about art, both mine and theirs, process, and a number of other little somethings. It was amazing. A once-in-a-lifetime experience (for if we were to visit again, which I’m sure we will, the element of surprise will not be there anymore). Sydenham Street Studios is a must for dropping in if you’re visiting downtown Kingston!
We were then pointed in the direction of a pottery studio and a glass-blowing studio. The folks at the glass-blowing studio weren’t very friendly (actually, they didn’t really notice we were there), however the gentleman at the pottery place was warm and welcoming, introducing us to his dog and talking with us about trail running and dogs. We bought a beautiful bowl in support of his art, and it’s now Steph’s earring home.
I met another friendly shop owner while walking through Princess Street, too. We discussed art, art lessons, teaching and the quirky little items she had for sale. In the back of the store, which she owned, was one of her art students, working on a gorgeous watercolour rendering of a bird house.
The entire day seemed like magic. Even on the way home, when the gas light came on, we made it about 30km to the next town and found some gas. We didn’t even get tense and grumpy!! Magic.
We live in Ingleside, which is a tiny village about 20 minutes away from Cornwall. I grew up near Cornwall, but I rarely visit anymore as I work in the opposite direction. Steph works in Cornwall, so a trip is the norm. But today, I decided that I wanted to not just pick up groceries, but tour around the Pitt & Second business zone. There’s been a lot of renovating going on and I wanted to see what there was, and if there were any potential sites for a future art school & gallery.
We stopped off at our favourite coffee spot, The Grind. I was excited to see a number of new store fronts available for rent on Second Street. They look great and will surely become home to some fantastic new businesses. We also stopped in at the Cornwall Regional Art Gallery.
What a dissapointment.
Wait – the artwork was beautiful. Outstanding, really. I was floored by the gorgeous works created by local artists and sculptors. But. The carpet was dirty and is generally gross. The walls were mucked up. And some minor renos were happening in the back, so the noise was unexpected and didn’t contribute to an overly great visit. Also, the two folks working wanted nothing to do with us – they didn’t even bother to greet us. Once again, we had given this place a chance, and found the environment to be stuffy, unwelcoming and uninspiring. A coat of paint and a pass of the vacuum, as well as a smile and conversation would have gone a long way.
We popped into some other small businesses, but many of the storefronts are closed. Quite frankly, the hours don’t make much sense at most of these places, either. Who closes at 5 throughout the week? No wonder no one can stay open. It was a beautiful day, yet few folks were out walking. This city has so much potential. A rich history, beautiful old storefronts, creative and driven people, and somehow it eludes the city. I can’t figure out the math.
On the plus side, I still enjoyed the walking tour and the sun. I’ve been in a great mood all week and am feeling more like myself. My creative self, that is. The teacher in me is just not ready to go back to work! I’d rather keep painting!