Small art with a BIG heart

By Judith van Berkom – 

Don Monet’s work (four of them) faces visitors outside in the right window as you enter the CUBE gallery. Co-owner with writer, Becky Rynor, and curator of CUBE, Don meets with new artists, chooses the works to display and operates the day-to-day activities at the gallery. Becky and Don formed a partnership 13 years ago, which is still successful today.

CUBE gallery, under Don and Becky’s leadership, form the mainstay of local art in the Kitchissippi ward, being one of the first galleries to promote local art and to settle in the heart of West Wellington Village. Don organized the West End Studio tour 20 years ago – he named it and was one of the artists – and the CUBE gallery 13 years ago with Becky.

This is also when Great BIG Smalls Annual Christmas show started – making art affordable and accessible to everyone and raising awareness of many of the incredible artists in this community.

A total of 50+ artists make up the Great BIG smalls this year from the Ottawa area, some international artists as well – well-known names such as Russell Yuristy whose work is also on display at the National Gallery, artists from the Enriched Bread Artists on Gladstone and a good number from the Kitchissippi ward, such as Don Monet himself, Paula Zoubek – whose work is also currently on display at The Table – Anne Scanlan, and Betty Pogue Connelly – to name a few.

Kitchissippi artists, Anne Scanlan, Paula Zoubek and Betty Pogue Connelly, are three of 50+ local Ottawa artists represented at CUBE’s annual Christmas exhibition of small works. Great BIG Smalls runs until December 31, 2017. Photo by Al Goyette

The gallery has 2,600 sq.ft. of space, plenty of room to view the small paintings – most are 12 x 12, some rectangular – and space to stand back and enjoy them from a distance.

Paula Zoubek – long-time resident of Kitchissippi ward – has been an artist all her life. She remembers as a child, coming home from school, turning on the radio and lying on her stomach, drawing. In school, the textbooks purchased by her parents were full of her drawings. She still has some of those books. Summers are spent painting up in Wakefield with her 17-year-old grandson. At the West End tour this year, several of his works were on display, one of which sold for more than the asking price.

Paula’s “smalls” are a series of chairs set against colourful backgrounds. The chairs reflect changes to her style – which are generally smaller paintings because of a slight tremor in her right hand and the need to support her arm against a chair when she draws or paints.

“It’s nice to have something you’re exploring and looking forward to,” says Paula. “Art motivates me. I look forward to the next day and have some pretty interesting ideas now, usually get ideas from reading books – a particular phrase strikes me and an idea [for a painting] pops into my head.”

Betty Pogue Connelly traces her interest in art back to her high school days at Fisher Park in Ottawa. Betty is a long-time resident of Wellington Village and taught high school in Ottawa for many years. When she began to teach internationally, in Mexico, Spain, and the Middle East, she took up her second career as an artist. She’s a world traveller and completed an art residency in France and another in Ireland, the country of her roots, at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for the Arts and is scheduled to return there in March 2018 for the month. This is her fourth year participating in the Great BIG smalls, with a series of abstracts and a series of Irish landscapes.

Anne Scanlan, also from Kitchissippi, is a retired teacher currently studying at the Ottawa School of Art part-time. She started doing art 20 years ago, going back to it off and on during her career as a teacher.

“[Taking art courses] keeps you busy; it makes you look at your work in a different way, and encourages you to challenge yourself, and explore different avenues,” says Anne. She describes her work as “abstract expressionism, paintings that tell stories, art that is joyful, putting a smile on your face.”

The show runs until December 31, 2017. For more information, go to

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