Glebe Visual Arts – What’s Surfacing?

Drinking in art at Wine Rack
GCC Gallery: Matt Hinther
Birthing a piece of public art
What’s new at Roast ‘n Brew?

Drinking in art at Wine Rack

By Julie Houle Cezer

Confronted with an open space, fertile imaginations cannot help but fill it with a bit of magic. I venture that’s how, on the night of March 20, the back room of the Glebe Wine Rack must have come to make its debut as an art gallery and venue for a vernissage. This was the first of many openings, I hope, as the Glebe certainly needs different kinds of projects to fill the gap left by the loss of gallery spaces dedicated solely to presenting the visual arts.

“Bench Sitters” by Ray Amiro

“Bench Sitters” by Ray Amiro

By weaving energy, focus and skill together with a willingness to take a chance, Wine Rack’s local manager Elliot Leigh, art curator Patricia Golding, artist Ray Amiro and photographer Leni Lelieveld all contributed to transforming a rather neutral and undefined room into an art space, and the exhibit, Glimpses of Crete, into a visual ode to the island of Crete. The walls, hung with the modestly sized prints and photographs, seemed to throw down the gauntlet to those of us living with the long freeze of winter. The 14 art prints by Amiro and 10 photographs by Lelieveld filled the small room with the Mediterranean taste of a lighter version of daily living. Most of this work represents life in the province of Chania in northwestern Crete, an area of the island where the artist-photographer couple returns every two years.

Ray Amiro’s studies range from landscapes to abstracts, from figurative studies such as “Beach Boys of Neo Chorato” or “Bench Sitters” to prints such as “Sfnari Reeds” with its refined and rhythmic details. Like the rest of Amiro’s works in the exhibit, these are either photos on fine art papers or Giclée art prints that, by definition, are rendered in museum-quality pigments on an archival substrate (canvas or fine paper.) A certain posed quality in his human subjects suggests that, like his accompanying notes, Amiro is drawn to observing and reflecting on village life at rest.

“Splanzia Women” by Leni Lelieveld, from Glimpses of Crete on exhibit until April 27.

“Splanzia Women” by Leni Lelieveld,
from Glimpses of Crete on exhibit until
April 27.

By contrast, the still lifes and portraits captured by photographer Leni Lelieveld seem more immediate, inviting the viewer to step into a moment in this slow flow of life. Bridges to another culture’s sensibilities and rhythms, the photos introduce the viewer to a series of seemingly unrelated images of Crete – the particularly self-possessed overlord cat in the “Cat & Sign,” the battered “Mini-Truck,” the street scene of the local “Splanzia Women” who are tuned in to the photographer as much as the sleeping dog in the foreground is tuned out, and the octopus drying on a line in “Octopods.” Natural context is captured in “Lighthouse Spray,” the crystallization of the unrelenting motion of the sea, while cultural references surface in “Minoan or Venetian,” evoking the ancient civilizations that have defined Crete’s history.

Like the Greek amuse-gueules and the wine-tasting that complemented this small feast for the eyes, this opening provided a peek into the culture of Crete. As excerpted from his reflections on “Vintner of Time,” artist Ray Amiro notes of antiquity’s legacy, “So carefully cultivated, the seeds of the past bear witness and provide nourishment… over centuries of toil and joy, of anguish and content. The DNA of not-so-fleeting cultures sewn across millennia, nourishing poets, peasants and philosophers, each nurturing those before and after them.”

I am moved to explore. Do I hear the land of the Minotaur calling? For more information on Ray Amiro or Leni Lelieveld, contact Patricia Golding at

If you are an artist interested in a show in a gallery or pop-up style, you may wish to contact Patricia Golding, as she is always researching appropriate spaces to make art gatherings happen here in the Glebe. You may also contact Glebe Wine Rack manager Elliot Leigh at 613-234-1742 or elliot.leigh for further information on showings in the Wine Rack space.


GCC Gallery
Matt Hinther
March 30 – April 27

“Glebe Video” by Matt Hinther, one of the photos in the exhibit Caffeinated

“Glebe Video” by Matt Hinther, one of the photos in the exhibit Caffeinated

“I was born in Ottawa and grew up in the Glebe. With my father, grandfather and great grandfather all being photographers I have always had an interest in photography. I have been taking photographs my whole life, but took a serious interest in it about 15 years ago. Recently, at the urging of friends and relatives, I began showing my work and offering my photographic services to the public.

“I do some of my work using the digital medium, but my real passion and specialization is large-format film. Being a long-time fan of Ansel Adams, I dedicated myself to learning the art of large-format photography. I really love the process and the time involved. From taking the photograph to developing the film and processing the image, each final image is a culmination of hours of work.

“I enjoy creating large-format fineart images of my neighbourhood in the Glebe and the surrounding eastern Ontario countryside. I also create environmental portraits. What is also unique about my photography is that I process all of my own film using the Caffenol method. Caffenol is an environmentally friendly developer that I create myself using caffeinated coffee, vitamin C and washing soda. The use of these non-toxic household items reduces the impact on the environment.”

Matt Hinther’s work can be viewed at


Birthing a piece of public art

by Bhat Boy

Bhat Boy’s winning concept proposal, photographed by Andrew Balfour on the morning of the deadline

Bhat Boy’s winning concept proposal, photographed by Andrew Balfour on the morning of the deadline

I am pleased to be able to announce that I have won a competition to paint a panoramic view of Ottawa on a winter’s night under a starry sky, highlighting the transportation hubs of the city. The painting will feature iconic buildings, OC Transpo employees, historical vehicles from the past and key transportation links throughout the city. The painting will be 15 feet long by five feet tall and it will hang in the lobby of the OC Transpo headquarters.

“One per cent of funds for new municipal development is mandated for public art, in order to enhance public spaces and make art accessible to everyone.”

The project is part of the City of Ottawa’s Public Art Program, which commissions site-specific works of art for display in public places. One per cent of funds for new municipal development is mandated for public art, in order to enhance public spaces and make art accessible to everyone. Any artist or group of artists living in the region can respond to the City’s Public Art Program call for proposals. They are published in the newspaper and distributed widely by email.


Last autumn, a call for proposals for OC Transpo stood out for me because most calls are looking for durable outdoor art, and painting is often not the best solution. But this was a call for an indoor installation. It outlined the space where the project was to go, a fancy map of words favoured by OC Transpo employees, and details on how to apply. The budget for the work was $19,000.

Two months before the application deadline, on a dark winter night, I went to a meeting at 1500 St Laurent Boulevard where the work was to be installed. We were taken on a tour of the soon-to-be-refurbished building. Attendance by applicants was not necessary, but it could not hurt either. It was a big wall in the lobby, about 20 feet long and nine feet high. We applicants stood there in the building at night in our snowsuits like brightly coloured art scientists, holding our clipboards, examining the current art collection and talking about tile colour as if seeking a diagnosis.

I worked on a bunch of ideas while on vacation, mostly just little pencil sketches with jot notes in my sketch pad. I was on a cruise. I wanted something quintessentially Bhat Boy, but also OC Transpo. Slowly the idea emerged of a panorama of Ottawa on a winter’s night under a classic Bhat- Boy night sky. The painting would be in three large panels, each one five feet by five feet, with historic vehicles from our transit past and featuring cutaway sections of our new transit tunnel. As part of my application I was to submit 10 images of previous work to show the jury what I can paint. This was in my favour, as I have done a number of large-scale paintings with complicated scenarios in the past. One of the images I submitted was a painting for McGarry Funeral Homes with eight vintage hearses and ambulances in it. Another image was the painting I did that hangs outside Starbucks at Bank and Third.

The objective at this point was to become one of the five applicants selected as finalists. Along with my written proposal, my application had to include a sketch. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I realized that despite all the bells and whistles that my immaculately drawn buses and trams could provide, a complicated ink drawing of the enormous painting that I was proposing was not going to sell it, and I needed another solution to get past the next hurdle.


Three days before the January deadline, I arrived home from vacation and took a wood panel from the cupboard in my studio (I prefer to paint on these rather than canvases). It was 8 by 24 inches, the only one I had in the house that was the same 1:3 ratio as my proposed project. I drew it out by hand with a pencil first, and then began to paint the sky. That was Friday. On Monday morning, the day the proposal was due, I took the painting to Andrew Balfour to be professionally photographed. This cost $150 as it was a rush job, but I needed every edge I could get, and a professional photograph can make all the difference. I picked up the photograph at lunchtime and burned it onto a disc with the rest of my proposal and delivered it by hand an hour before the four o’clock deadline.


Eventually my proposal became one of the five final applications and I was scheduled for an interview in mid-February with a jury made up of about half a dozen people. I wish I had a good story about the interview but I don’t. I found out by telephone the next morning that I won, and I shall live happily ever after. Installation of the completed work is scheduled for October 2014.

Glebe resident Bhat Boy is a practising artist and art teacher who, as he sees the world anew, is moved to share his vision with his community.


What’s new at Roast ’n Brew

Cara Elizabeth
May 8 – June 12

by Bhat Boy

Cara Elizabeth answers the door in a patterned dress and leads me up the stairs in a streak of colour. Her home is all cozy corners hung with paintings, teapots and bookshelves. Elizabeth buzzes from painting to painting like a bee collecting pollen, her pink hair and sparkling laugh guiding us though the room.

Of a portrait of a green-haired woman with an umbrella, she says, “This painting is called I Love the Rain. I created this piece after having not painted or drawn anything for a while. I had been uninspired but decided to let the soothing rainy day wash over me, leaving me content and inspired by a book of vintage wallpaper designs.”

Elizabeth floats across her room to another painting. “This painting is called Napkin Girl. Many years ago while waiting for my friend to pack up the guitar after an open stage, I was killing time and began to doodle on a napkin. When it was time to leave, I left the napkin on the table and didn’t give it a second thought, but at the door a man ran up to me and said, ‘Hey, you should keep this drawing, it’s really something!’ And so I did and Napkin Girl was born.”

And so it is with Elizabeth; she creates something where there was nothing before, and this is what she does. Her work is neither mystical nor ethereal, but instead it lives in the world we live in, made up of real images. The transfer occurs in the representation of these real-life images by making them playful and joyous. Her art brings comfort and familiarity to the soul.

Cara Elizabeth is an Ottawa native and past exhibitor at Art in the Park. She helps bring colour to her block of Powell Avenue, and to all of us Glebites, for that matter. Her opening is Saturday, May 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. Come meet the artist. Everyone can use a bit of Cara Elizabeth in their lives.

Bhat Boy is an artist who seeks avenues to refresh the spirit of the Glebe through art in all its forms.


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