The Tribe of Seven kicked off the second annual exhibition of their work in the Rotary Room at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Pubic Library Saturday with a reception complete with wine and refreshments.
The Tribe of Seven is a group of Niagara artists from different backgrounds, interests and skills, brought together by art and now bound together by friendship.
As attendees of the same workshop at the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, they were unintentionally brought together in 2016. Fellow student Cathy Buis asked them to use their painting skills for a fundraising initiative. Retired engineer and one of the founding members, Albert Ho, graciously opened up his house as a studio for the artists to paint bird houses, to raise funds for the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre in St. Catharines.
During that evening, retired elementary school principal and Tribe of Seven member, Murray Wilcox recounts, he realized they were “a group of people who like each other.” Richard West, retired engineer and Tribe member, says of that first night, “we couldn’t have planned this. It went so well we decided to continue to paint together.” They started meeting at each other’s houses to paint every Friday.
Eventually, their spouses joined them for dinner at the hosting artist’s house or at a local restaurant after the painting sessions. West acknowledges “the magic ingredient that was added was the spouses.” This has made the painting sessions even more valuable as the evening turns into a social event. He says the spouses “change the chemistry” and he is happy that it gives him a chance to share his hobby with his spouse, even though “they do not talk art at dinner,” he says with a smile.
The name “The Tribe” was originally coined for the group by former member, Debra Glover, when she expressed her feelings to the group by declaring that she felt so good when with them — she felt they were her “tribe.” Glover has left the group and moved to Vancouver Island, but the name has stuck. Unfortunately, the group has experienced the loss of other members, including Suzanne Rudat, who died in January, 2018, and to whom the group is dedicating this exhibition.
However, other artists have been invited to join. Newer member, Gord Pollock, former airline pilot, explains he continues to take art classes and attend workshops, as do other members individually, supporting each other socially and technically. Each member is apt to follow certain instructors who match their personality and artistic goals, as each artist works in different media and styles. Plus, he says, “we have Diane.” Diane Croker, is a retired art teacher and Tribe of Seven member. Although she has joined the group as a member and not an instructor, her experience and knowledge is extremely valuable to the group.
West agrees and explains they all share information they have learned from outside workshops and classes. He says the different media and techniques vary as much as the personalities and interests of the members. The media used in the exhibition vary from pencil, water colour, oil and acrylic. The subject matter is also diverse, ranging from landscapes, portraits and architecture.
Wilcox was happy at the support shown by those who attended this year’s reception. He was pleasantly surprised at the number of people, an increase over last year. He even had a friend drive in from Toronto for the event, he says, and all members had former and current instructors, family and friends at the reception.
Frogpond Farm Organic Winery, Ho says, is interested in supporting the arts, and sponsored the event. The winery also hosts an Art in the Vineyard event in June.
“Niagara-on-the-Lake is an amazing place for artists,” Ho says. “The good thing about living in Niagara-on-the-Lake is that all these artists are retired and have plenty of time on their hands.”
The Tribe of Seven exhibition is on until the end of February, and the artists have already booked the Rotary Room for January and February, 2021.