Cube Gallery closing

By Ted Simpson –

After nearly 15 years as an institution of art and community in Kitchissippi, Cube Gallery will be closing their doors permanently this month. But don’t think this will be the last you see of the team behind the Cube. They’re not going away.

Don Monet and Becky Rynor launched the first iteration of Cube Gallery on Hamilton Avenue back in 2005. Don took on the role of being ‘the face’ of the gallery and its curator, while Becky made things happen behind the scenes. The team – and the gallery – have come a long way since then and the neighbourhood has grown up around them, with Cube as a cultural hub.

Don Monet of Cube Gallery, Wellington West Ottawa
“We don’t want to go away too far,” says Don Monet of Cube Gallery. Photo by Ted Simpson

As a gallery, Cube has always been about making art accessible. Giving Canadian artists – many of them local – a place to show their work, and giving customers a warm, welcoming place where you don’t have to be wealthy to take home something beautiful. “I like putting art into the hands of people who love it,” says Don. “It’s not something that you need, it’s something that you want and it becomes a part of your house that can last for generations.” 

Every piece of art you have ever seen at Cube has been personally selected by Don and his long-time assistant, Sylvia Johnston, because that particular piece means something to them; never with the question of, ‘will this sell?’ but with asking, ‘is this good art?’

“Everything that’s hung in this gallery is something that we (Don and Sylvia) would proudly hang in our homes,” says Don.

As a space for the community, the gallery has hosted countless events and art shows, from theatre and music to weddings and birthday parties, political events, fundraisers, and their annual stargazing parties. It’s an art gallery not just for the elite and anointed, but one for all of the people.

Sadly though, all things must end at some point, or change. The show currently on display at Cube will be their final one. On May 12, Don and Sylvia will close the doors at the gallery for the final time and this chapter for Cube will end. 

But Don and Becky aren’t leaving, they’ve been long time Kitchissippi residents and that isn’t changing. The team behind Cube are still advocates for their community and proud supporters of their friends and family in the local business community. 

“To be able to shop local means your helping people in your community to survive, you want to have great businesses in your community that are owned by moms and pops,” says Don.

And they won’t be leaving their family in the art community either. The couple will still have a role to play, if just a bit less tangible. 

“The Cube bricks and mortar is going away, Becky and I are retiring from that major thing of running a day to day operation, but Cube will continue in terms of doing special events and I fully plan to keep being a curator in this community,” says Don. “We don’t want to go away too far.”

Cube friends old and new are encouraged to come see the last show, a stunning display of work they have aptly named Threshold. It will be there until May 12.

“A threshold is the point of entering or leaving a dwelling, an era or a chapter,” says Don. It’s worth one final visit to take in, Don and Sylvia would love to see you. 

After that, it’s a much-needed vacation for Don and Becky and their family. What’s coming next? The future of the building is up in the air at the moment, but you’d be smart to bookmark cubegallery.ca and follow them on social media. When the next chapter starts, you won’t want to miss out.

*This feature is brought to you in part by Produce Depot.

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 cubegallery.ca.

1st Thursdays: A stroll through a burgeoning art scene

By Jared Davidson – 

For the past seven years, a small group of Wellington West galleries has been participating in 1st Thursdays Art Walk. As the name suggests, the walk occurs on the first Thursday of the month and gives attendees a chance to sample the works on offer at their local gallery, socialize, and attend openings. It’s also a great way to experience the diversity of the area and various art styles, as the galleries range from the Fritzi Gallery at the GCTC to Railbender Studio, a tattoo parlour that features distinctive local art.

The walk’s location has become particularly ripe for events such as this, as local work spills out from galleries into coffee shops and pubs. The art scene is a definitive part of the community and there is plenty of it to go around. Between the five galleries currently participating in the art walk, one could spend a great deal of time experiencing what  artists have to offer but also walk outside, drink great coffee, and enjoy excellent food.

The origins of 1st Thursdays are found in the New York art scene. Cube Gallery owner, Don Monet, got the idea during a visit to New York City during which he noticed the galleries stayed open late on the first Thursday of the month and were crowded with visitors. When he returned, he began approaching galleries with the idea. It caught on in Wellington West. As Don explains, there is no theme to the event. Instead, it’s an opportunity to celebrate whatever is at the galleries.

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Don Monet, owner of the Cube Gallery, attributes the walk’s success in part to sites like Facebook and Meetup.com where users arrange gallery outings during 1st Thursdays Art Walk. The gallery is open late on the first Thursday of every month. Photo by Jared Davidson

“The galleries are open late, and whatever is happening at the galleries is happening at the galleries,” says Don. “It has become really popular.”

Ever since the beginning, the 1st Thursdays Art Walk has been well-attended and well-loved, and more galleries have been collaborating with artists to schedule openings to coincide with it. Don attributes the walk’s success at least in part to sites like Facebook and Meetup.com where users arrange gallery outings during 1st Thursdays Art Walk.

Whatever the reason, the walk has helped to foster a growing art scene in the neighbourhood. Manon Labrosse, whose wilderness-inspired series opened at Gallery 3 in April, had extra people stop by thanks to the walk.

“It was a nice way to start spring,” she says. “People who normally wouldn’t come out came out tonight.”

Her captivating show was an exploration of hidden parts of Algonquin Park, based on experiences she had as the park’s artist-in-residence. Manon uses strong contrasting colours and lines to help depict the feeling of these natural landscapes.

Between April 26 and May 29, Kathy M. Haycock will be showing a series of paintings in a show titled: Magical Edge. It is an exploration of places in which environments meet: a quiet swamp bridging the water’s edge, a shifting weather front, a line of trees on the fringe of wilderness.

“Spring on the Mountain,” by Kathy M. Haycock. Kathy, who lives and works around Eganville, Ontario, explores “the edge between realism and abstraction” in her paintings. Her work will be on display at Cube Gallery until May 29.
“Spring on the Mountain,” by Kathy M. Haycock. Kathy, who lives and works around Eganville, Ontario, explores “the edge between realism and abstraction” in her paintings. Her work will be on display at Cube Gallery until May 29.

Though the crowds haven’t diminished in seven years, the number of galleries is thinning. With Orange Gallery’s move and Patrick John Mills’ closure, the walk is smaller than ever, which has Don thinking about expansion again.

“The best would be if 1st Thursdays were Ottawa wide,” he says. “I could see it expanding into places that are not typically used for art.”

He imagines the art walk incorporating pubs and coffee shops, like the Hintonburg Public House or the Ministry of Coffee. This would bring exposure to smaller independent artists, and could be a good opportunity for the shops as well. However, Don admits that there are some drawbacks to this plan.

“The problem with places like that is that there are people eating,” says Don. “You don’t necessarily want someone coming in and looking at some art over your linguini.”

Take a walk on the wild side 

The next 1st Thursdays art walk is taking place on May 5. Drop by any of these locations for a visual treat:

  1. Cube Gallery
    (1285 Wellington St. W.)
  2. Fritzi Gallery
    (1233 Wellington St. W. inside the GCTC)
  3. SPAO @ Exposure
    (1255 Wellington St. W. upstairs inside Thyme & Again)
  4. Gallery 3
    (1281 Wellington St. W.)
  5. Railbender Studio
    (3 Hamilton Ave. N.)
    On May 5, Railbender will be setting up for a new exhibit for local artist ARPi, as part of Hintonburg Happening. It launches on Sunday May 8. For details, check out the “ARPi Does Railbender” event page on Facebook. Word has it Railbender will definitely be part of the art walk in June.

 

It’s a big show of small art at Cube Gallery

By Joseph Hutt –

While Kitchissippi is slowly reviving its holiday traditions, the Cube Gallery is busy hosting its eleventh annual Christmas showing: Great BIG Smalls XI. This diverse collection, on display from November 24 to January 3, will feature over two hundred 12”x12” canvases from 53 different artists.

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Great BIG Smalls XI will mark the Cube Gallery’s tenth year of operation, having opened their doors in 2005.

The Great BIG Smalls focus on small works is unique in Ottawa and creates an environment that is welcoming to first-time art buyers as well as veteran collectors. By avoiding the logistics of framing and transporting large canvas works (and the subsequent costs), this small canvas showing remains feasible for those who have the interest but may not have either the finances or space to dedicate to larger purchases.

Clare Brennan, local artist and participant in Great BIG Smalls, says “people see this as an opportunity to pick up things that they haven’t been able to in the past.”

Furthermore, with holidays on the way, an event like this is “just a good idea,” says Cube Gallery owner Don Monet. “People come in with their sweethearts, then they’ll leave, and about two minutes later they’ll pop their heads in and say, “Could you put a red dot on that painting for me?’” Don reminisces.

According to Don, patrons should expect variety when they visit.

“I have eclectic tastes; I like everything,” he explains. “That’s what I think you’re going to see in this show. You’ll see the gambit from flowers and still-life to portraiture to abstract and photography… From heavy hitters who are hanging in the National Gallery to people who are really just painting on the weekends.”

Lindsay Watson, another participating artist, says this kind of variety can make for an odd hodge-podge if a gallery isn’t careful, but she isn’t worried when it comes to the Cube Gallery.

“As an artist, when you are showing, you want your work to look good,” she explained. “You want the people setting it up to be mindful of that, and Don is very good at [arranging an attractive and unified display].”

With the vernissage lined up for November 26, both artists and patrons are beginning feel the excitement leading up to the event.

“It’s funny,” adds Claire. “It is the Great BIG Smalls, but it’s big. It’s energetic… Even though people are just picking up small pieces, it’s always a huge event!”

If being part of the action (and the complimentary hot cider) isn’t enough, think of the Great BIG Smalls as the perfect chance to support one of Kitchissippi’s long-standing independent businesses during the holiday season, not to mention a number of local artists as well.

For more information about the show go to cubegallery.ca.

Russell Yuristy showing at Cube Gallery

By Ted Simpson – 

Cube Gallery is showing the latest work from one of Ottawa’s most veteran, and surely one of the most talented artists, Russell Yuristy.

At the age of 79, Yuristy still works diligently from his home on Island Park Drive. His latest exhibit, a solo show at Cube, features a range of natural imagery that includes fish, animals, and most prominently, trees. One stunning portrait of a great oak is laid out over a towering seven-foot canvas.

A life-long creator, Yuristy has become his most prolific in these later years.

Russell Yuristy at work. Yuristy currently has a solo show at Cube Gallery. Photo by Don Monet
Russell Yuristy at work. Yuristy currently has a solo show at Cube Gallery. Photo by Don Monet

“I find that I’m doing much more work now that I’m older, I’m not out running around and causing trouble,” he says.

These days Yuristy finds his muse close to home, along the shores of the Ottawa River. The influence of Kitchissippi scenery can be seen in many of his paintings.

“I like to go down and walk by the river for an hour or two, that’s here I find a lot of my subjects,” says Yuristy. “Sometimes I’ll bring a large paper with me and do a live sketch, or other times I work from a photograph.”

Starting his career in his home province of Saskatchewan, Yuristy came to be known for his large sculptures of animals that were incorporated into children’s playgrounds. In 1974 he was commissioned by Expo Canada to build a wooden animal playground for Expo ‘74 in Spokane, Washington. Since then, his work has been installed all across the country, including a huge sculpture of a classic baseball player at the Ottawa Baseball Stadium titled Switch Hitter.

Yuristy’s fascination with trees seems to have started after he arrived in Ottawa in the mid 80s.

“When I was out in Saskatchewan, the trees are quite small there, then I came here and thought, wow, these trees are just amazing.”

He went to Montreal for five years, but ended up back in Ottawa again to be closer to nature. “It’s so easy to go a short distance and be at a river or in a forest, you can’t get that in other cities,” says Yuristy.

Going into his eighth decade, Yuristy’s creative spark and imagination still seem far from their end, though he did take the time to share a story of where it all might have began.

“When I was 10, I made a set of wings for myself out of cardboard. My dad said, ‘don’t you dare jump off the horse barn with those,’ so I jumped off the grain shed. I didn’t fly and the wings broke, but I kept going.”

Cube Gallery’s Don Monet has this to say of Yuristy: “Russell has a rare combination of giddy enthusiasm and profound gravitas. He loves nature, art and society in equal measures – and it shows in his work. We are honoured to be representing this local dynamo since we opened the Cube ten years ago. If you have not seen the work of Russell Yuristy, do yourself a favour and run, don’t walk, to our gallery this month. You will not be disappointed.”

Russell Yuristy’s solo exhibit is on display at Cube Gallery (1285 Wellington St W.), until October 4. For information about Cube Gallery go to cubegallery.ca.

Cube gallery celebrates a decade of supporting local artists

By Ted Simpson –

Cube Gallery kicked off the new year by celebrating a milestone anniversary, 10 years in business on Wellington West.

Don Monet is currently setting up “one of the biggest, if not the biggest show we’ve ever done.” Photo by Ted Simpson
Don Monet is currently setting up “one of the biggest, if not the biggest show we’ve ever done.” Photo by Ted Simpson

Co-owners Don Monet and Becky Rynor have worked over the years to make Cube a staple of the local art scene and a destination in the neighbourhood for community events.

For any small business, a decade is a long time to stay open. For a gallery it can be the time needed to start building influence says Monet.

“Ten years is only long enough to establish yourself as a gallery,” says Monet. He’s spent that time sharing his love for art with the people in his neighbourhood. “I like putting art into the hands of people who love it,” says Monet. “It’s not something that you need, it’s something that you want and it becomes a part of your house that can last for generations.”

For many local artists, Cube has been more than just a place to buy and sell. The tenth anniversary show on display at the gallery features a number of pieces that are tributes to the gallery and its influence. One of the contributing artists, MaryAnn Camps, says she personally owes much to
Monet.

“Don is passionate about the art itself. He will take risks for exhibitions because he believes in the art and the artist and that the work needs to be seen,” says Camps, who has been contributing work to shows at Cube since 2009.

“Don is always willing to offer guidance about my work and career,” she says. “I love our frank discussions. I can always count on him to tell me exactly what he thinks. I really like that.”

Though the staff at Cube aren’t dwelling much on the past, Monet and company are currently setting up for next month, what Monet says will be “one of the biggest, if not the biggest show we’ve ever done.”

The gallery will host a two-month showing of work from world-class Canadian artist, Daphne Odjig. At 95 years of age, Objig is one of the most renowned artists in Canada. Objig is a recipient of the Order of Canada and winner of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. Her work has been featured on postage stamps, on display at the National Gallery, and will be on display at Cube through February and March.

Area art lovers are invited to the opening party. On February 8 from 2:00 p.m. ‘til 5:00 p.m., everyone is welcome to enjoy the stunning display of paintings and sketching that draws on Objig’s First Nations Odawa-Potawatomi and English heritage.

Nocturne: Star gazing party turns five

Don Monet. Photo by Ted Simpson
Don Monet. Photo by Ted Simpson

July 5 marks the fifth year for Don Monet and CUBE Gallery’s dark sky, star gazing party, which will be returning this year to its original name, Nocturne.

Formerly known in Ottawa as Nuit Noir, Nocturne was launched by Monet at Cube’s original location on Hamilton Avenue. Moving the gallery a few blocks to Wellington West three years ago, Monet brought the concept with a new name. That is, until another night time art party arrived in Ottawa last year, Nuit Blanche.

“We didn’t have Nuit Blanche in Ottawa when we first called it (Nuit Noir), people started to get them confused, so we changed the name back to Nocturne,” says Monet.

The idea behind Nocturne is completely unique in this country, while remaining beautifully simple: turn off all artificial light and enjoy the natural majesty of the night sky.

As urban dwellers we are robbed of our view of the stars by the constant glare of artificial lamps creating light pollution, Monet offers a reminder of what we are missing, a celebration of the night sky, he says.
In its third year on Wellington West, Nocturne is gaining traction with the community, and several local businesses are contributing to make this year’s event a real festival.

From Won Ton House offering up a special dish called Neptune, all the way down to Alpha Soul Café, which will be running solely on candle light from July 2 to 14, while hosting musical performances and featuring a high-powered telescope on the back patio.

The main event will be taking place July 5. Starting at 7 p.m., Julian Avenue (across the street from Cube Gallery) will be closed off and the street lights will be shut down. “Julian Avenue is a really super hip street, if you want to turn the lights off on a street you need 100 per cent of the residents to vote yes,” says Monet, stressing that it is community involvement that makes this event possible.

Local band Monday I Retire, featuring Julian Avenue residents, will be providing musical entertainment until 8 p.m., when Professor Peter Watson from Carleton University will be giving a lecture on comets.

By 8:30 telescopes will be set up, courtesy of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, as the sun goes down and the sky goes dark. “We chose July 5 because it’s going to be dark of the moon, it will be better for seeing,” says Monet. “If it’s a clear night we’ll have a nice view of Saturn… people’s first time seeing the rings of Saturn, it’s awesome.”

A fitting sound track to the night will be provided from a rooftop DJ at Cube Gallery, as Kitchissippi residents are invited to roam the street, star gazing and taking in the unique experience of being outside, in the dark, in the city.

“I love the idea that it’s just people locally can take their bikes here or walk here, and it’s just a lovely, romantic thing to do, just stroll down a darkened street and at the end of it there are some telescopes,” says Monet.
The Nocturne art exhibit will be on display at Cube Gallery July 2 – 14.

For more information visit Cube Gallery.