It’s a most unlikely location for a gallery – the upper floor of a marina overlooking Stony Lake. Carveth’s Marina is the classic cottage country marina we all know and love, stocked with cottage sundries – ice cream, newspapers, candy bars, boat bumpers and fishing lures – and you have to walk through it to get to the gallery. So begins our adventure to Proximity Fine Art.
Just up the stairs, over the open water boat house you enter a different world. Artist / gallerist Christy Haldane is a no-nonsense woman with a heart of gold who decided the area needed more galleries – so without further ado she opened one. With just $3000, she fixed up the space, with its decidedly waterside feel – white wainscotting, panoramic windows and a small balcony opening out to the lake – and filled it to the brim with quality, affordable artwork. It is open seasonally with a clientele that includes many out-of-towners including U.S. visitors.
Never one to shy away from the deep end, in the past Haldane has hosted a legendary private land art festival called The Sculpture Challenge, was Program Co-ordinator for Peterborough’s emerging culture council, EC3, and creates glass work that ranges in scale from public art sculpture (The Waterway Project on the Trent Severn) to jewellry. And as if that were not enough, in her spare time she parents a young child and homesteads chickens, sheep, horses, rabbits and pigs.
A graduate of Sheridan College which is well-respected for its craft program, Haldane has a well-honed eye for quality craft as well as fine art. Proximity Gallery features only regional artists in a variety of media – painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass. She represents most of Peterborough’s leading painters such as John Climenhage, Peter Rotter, Peter Barron, as well as up-and-comers like Jenny Kastner, Rebecca Padget, and Sarah Gibeault.
But perhaps more importantly, Proximity has the largest and best selection of fine art craft in the Kawarthas. Haldane’s own practice is a reflection of the landscape – fused glass, metal and rock sculpture and jewellry that is both grounded and original. The gallery also carries glass sculpture by fellow glass artist Brad Copping, best known for his 2015 Mirrored Canoe Project which travelled for exhibits in Belgium and the Netherlands, and was featured in his 2016 exhibition at the Art Gallery of Peterborough, Setting afloat in a river of spate. Ceramicist Bill Reddick, creator of Canada’s official state dinnerware, displays subtle elegant work influenced by Song Dynasty porcelain. Thomas Aitken‘s creamy pastel tableware is thoroughly contemporary with classic proportions. It compliments collaborator Kate Hyde’s whimsical hand-decorated work. Lakefield potter Gail West offers intriguing horse hair fired stoneware and raku pottery. Paul Oldham, an expert in original and restored stained glass, creates bright fused glass pieces in primary colours. Lucky Jackson’s paintings, embroideries and cutouts are often unsettling but fly off the shelves. You’ll also find work by potter Beth McCubbin whose handsome, thoughtful tiles and pots often feature text and historic imagery.
Still, I have only scratched the surface. Rainy day or no, there is much to see and choose from at Proximity Fine Art, as a gift or for your personal collection. Make sure it’s on your summer excursion list.