Tara Tosh Kennedy: Directions to the cottage

There are many ways to celebrate cottage life in the summer. But Westboro artist Tara Tosh Kennedy may have found one of the best – having her first art showing in Cube Gallery’s Cottage exhibit.

Don Monet, Cube Gallery curator, describes the exhibit as an interpretation and reflection of the cottage experience – be that chalet or shack; campsite or condo; lean-to or trailer. The group exhibit features nine Ottawa valley artists and includes paintings, dioramas and photographs.

For Kennedy, this will be the first time her paintings are hung in a gallery. “It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m still pinching myself.”

Noting that she didn’t even take art classes in high school, Kennedy, 41, is a self-taught artist who began experiment with acrylics in her 20s. She grew up in Westboro and describes herself as a full-time mom and quarter-time artist. She never imagined that one day she would be showing her art in a gallery.

But as she continued to explore and develop her painting, Kennedy found that her work resonated with other people. She has attracted fans through her Facebook page ‘taratoshkennedyartstudio’ and about ten years ago she began showing her art in restaurants and sold her first painting.

In June, she was painting near Remic Rapids when rock sculpture artist John Ceprano saw her at work and admired what she was doing. He recommended that she show it to Don Monet at the Cube Gallery.

When Monet saw her painting, he invited her to submit her work for the upcoming Cottage exhibit. Fittingly, Kennedy has been preparing for the show at her family cottage near Bouchette, Quebec.

Describing her art as “whimsical,” Kennedy enjoys experimenting with different subjects but always tries to make the work personal and expressive. “I want to communicate joy, love and peace,” she says. Subjects include nature scenes, flowers, waggish dog portraits and spiritual images like Buddhas.

“For me, [art] should be about showing what is greatest about humanity and the human experience,” she says.

Some Westboro residents have likely already seen some of Kennedy’s art. In 2010 and 2011, she painted the wading pool surfaces at McKellar and Iona Parks with colourful patterns and playful aquatic creatures. She also leads the arts committee at Hilson Public School where her two sons, Finn, 7 and Liam, 4, are students.
Currently, Tosh is working on implementing a large-scale photography project called Inside Out for the coming school year.

The Cottage exhibition will be showing at the Cube Gallery on 1285 Wellington Street West from August 13 – September 15.

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