Words and images merge at Art Westmount

This year’s biennale takes on a literary dimension

By Wayne Larsen

Every second autumn since 2006, Westmount has been extra colourful thanks to a two-day celebration of its many artists. What began as an informal tour of local studios and exhibition spaces a decade ago has grown into an eagerly anticipated weekend where artists get to flaunt their latest work.

From carefully rendered portraits and landscapes to wild, eye-grabbing abstractions and sculptures, Art Westmount has always presented a wide variety of images from the creative imaginations of its artistic community.

This year, the fifth edition of Art Westmount, will be no exception—but now organizers have added a whole new dimension. Whereas the previous events focused on painting, photography, and sculpture, visitors to Victoria Hall on Oct. 1 and 2 will also get to meet several local literary figures—and hear them present excerpts from their work next door at the Westmount Public Library.

Sensing an opportunity for writers at Art Westmount, Gold got the ball rolling a few years ago.

“I think it’s wonderful to have authors being able to show their work just like the artists,” said Muriel Gold, one of the participating authors and a driving force behind the recent innovation.

Gold, a former artistic director of the Saidye Bronfman Centre Theatre with a long and distinguished background in the literary arts, attended the previous Art Westmount events with her husband, Ronald Poole, one of the participating artists.

Sensing an opportunity for writers at Art Westmount, Gold got the ball rolling a few years ago. “Being an author, I wrote a letter to Mayor Peter Trent and I asked him why they had exhibitions every other year for Westmount’s artists when there are writers in Westmount too,” she recalled, adding that Trent passed her letter on to city councillor Nicole Forbes, the commissioner of cultural events.

So this year, Gold and a group of fellow writers that includes Marie-Andrée Cantillon, Susan Doherty, Mary Hagerman, Sidonie Kazenel, Alfred Garson, Cora Siré, Nicole Peretz, and Donna Yates Adelman will be displaying and selling their books in a corner of Victoria Hall’s main ballroom. Over the weekend, the authors will take turns going next door to the Westmount Public Library, where they will present a reading and/or a brief talk about their work.

And of course many of Westmount’s best-known visual artists will be back exhibiting and selling some of their latest work throughout Victoria Hall and the adjoining gallery—not to mention a smaller exhibition by residents of Place Kensington on Ste-Catherine Street.

…many of Westmount’s best-known artists will be back exhibiting and selling some of their latest work

Those who dropped by previous Art Westmount events will no doubt recall the serene realism of Sara Peck Colby’s winter landscapes of the rural Eastern Townships and the familiar stylized horses from the brush of Bruce Roberts, as well as Lily Lam’s expertly rendered quilts and Catherine Benny’s colourfully expressive canvases. These, along with dozens of other painters and photographers, will be on hand with their creations.

“It’s all about the exposure,” Gold said, adding that the entire event is non-juried; participants can exhibit the works of their choice—which usually makes for an interesting show.

And while organizers are busy promoting the colourful fall event, which is two weeks away, Gold says the addition of authors to the mix is creating an added buzz. “Whoever I’ve mentioned it to has been very enthusiastic about the combination of artists and authors,” she said.

Visual artist Roxanne Dyer, who also works behind the scenes as a member of the event’s board of organizers, has been featured at every Art Westmount since its inception. This year she’ll be presenting a wide variety of work, from greeting cards to paintings based on last month’s hot-air balloon festival in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

“We’re all really excited about this year’s Art Westmount,” said Dyer, who recently completed a video trailer to help promote the event—a brief but eye-catching montage of a few of the works visitors can expect to see at Victoria Hall.

“I think it’s great that we’ll be having authors with us as well this year,” Dyer said.

Come and meet over 70 artists and authors, at Victoria Hall, 4626 Sherbrooke W, and the Westmount Public Library, 4574 Sherbrooke W, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 and 2, from 11 am to 5 pm. More information at 514 989-5226.

Images: Andrew Burlone


Wayne Larsen

Wayne Larsen is a newspaper editor and columnist whose work has appeared in several print and online publications. His freelance career included work as a news and feature writer for The Gazette and an advance copy editor at Reader’s Digest Canada. From 2000 to 2010 he was editor-in-chief of the Westmount Examiner.
wlarsen@westmountmag.ca
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