Monday, 3 December 2012

Legacy of the Lakehead Visual Arts Group

With nearly sixty years of history the Lakehead Visual Arts group (LVA) continues to be active. The group’s work regularly appeared in the old CPR freight office, otherwise known as the baggage building, at Prince Arthur’s Landing since 1967. With the upgrading of the park, that baggage building was transformed into an arts centre with a permanent shop, which performs various functions year round, as opposed to opening for only a couple months or so in the summer when the LVA had the space as a gallery. 

Although the LVA has lost its venue, the stalwarts are determined to continue on, to find venues in which to show their work and be an active group. You probably know a few of them: Ruth Tye McKenzie, Brian Holden, Verna Ross, Pat Isaac, Ken Crawford, Biljana Baker, Sue Wilson, Peg Moran, Kaija Maki, Lillian Kellogg, Evelyn Konrad – to name a few. Over the years they have become prominent figures in the art community. 

Formerly the LVA had the stuffy title of the Lakehead Society of Fine Arts, sure to scare away novices. In 1970 they changed their name and have continued to offer courses in painting, printmaking, pottery and sculpture. They organized exhibits for prominent artists such as Daphne Odjig and William Kurelek. Visitors from around the world have seen and purchased the work of the LVA.

Now the LVA has short shows, as they did last weekend at the Arts Center. At this most recent exhibit, true to form, there were landscape paintings - including the popular Sleeping Giant resting softly in grey-blue washes, along with bright floral semi-abstract paintings, depictions of old cottages and healthy animals. The styles and subjects vary, appealing to a variety of tastes, both traditional and modern. The works are reasonably priced and were available at various stages of being framed and unframed. 

These very dedicated members continue to hold out hope that they will find a new home, either seasonal or permanent. Another member, Lillian Kellogg, says the group is in a “state of flux,” active, and holding to their twenty-seven members. Evelyn Konrad is also hopeful for the future, and determined to persevere. “We are professional artists,” she stated. “People sometimes think we’re hobbyists, but some of us are full time artists.” 

Lillian said the group would be open to showing in empty retail locations in the city. A few local landlords have benefited from having artists show in their spaces. Lots of people turn up to the artists’ openings, and the artists advertise the location. A landlord can take advantage of the attention. Many empty retail spaces have rented after artists have had a show. 

The LVA group is hosting two workshops in January and will have another show at the Art Centre in March. And next year marks the group’s sixtieth year. For more information about the Lakehead Visual Artists, or if you know of a space they could borrow or rent for cheap, contact either Kay Anderson at 344-5507 or Lillian Kellogg at

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