There are addicts in town, but not all addicts are bad. In fact, while some leave darkness in their wake others leave brightness. They are not the kind of addicts who use alleyways to get from house to house unseen, but rather ones who are so passionate about their addiction that they can’t stop and for all the right reasons. These addicts are quite simply artists.
It was a nice gathering of members of an eclectic group last Wednesday afternoon when three such artists received awards for their outstanding contributions to the art community. Norma Krator, Ruth Kavanaugh and John Sandness were the three artists. While each of them has their own style and medium that they follow, the trio have a couple of definable factoids in common. All three artists have been creating their one-of-a-kind originals in Princeton since the 1970’s. They were amongst the original members of a group which later developed into the Princeton Arts Council. The original group was small “with only a dozen or so artists,” stated honouree John Sandness. The group was called CHUMS meaning Creative Hands and Understanding Minds. Since that meagre beginning, the Princeton Arts Council has grown into a powerful force that is 250 members strong.
“It is because of people like Ruth, Norma and John that we have become what we now are,” stated Council president Del Hall. “It is special to honour those who started the Arts Council,” added Hall “and even more significant because none of them have stopped doing what they are doing, but rather are showing their work in our gallery and still selling their pieces. They are active artists. It is just wonderful.”
Councillor Frank Armitage was also in attendance at the honourary reception at Riverside Centre. “These three individuals all need to be thanked. They have made a wonderful contribution to the community through the arts. Town Council thanks them and is very supportive of the Arts Council. We will continue to support the Arts Council in every way that we can. They are a great group of people and all of them deserve to be recognized for their positive contributions to our town.”
With their lifetime memberships in their hands the latest inductees into the Arts Council’s Hall of Fame sat down to reflect. “Ruth has her own little studio on Vermilion Avenue,” said Sandness. “She won’t tell you that, but I will.” Kavanaugh has done her fair share of painting. Using mostly acrylics, Kavanaugh paints abstracts and collages. Locally, there are many homes who have a piece of her work hanging on their wall.
Krator paints with water and oil. “She’s come a long way,” added Sandness. “She has really blossomed doing people. There is a feeling that comes through the canvas to you from Norma’s people…their expressions.”
Sandness himself is a retired school teacher who just couldn’t let go of his main interest even as an artist. He taught biology and woodwork and continue to nourish both those interests now as an artist. Sandness’ work is most likely to include some form of nature in it whether it be a painting or a wood carving.
All three artists were very proud of their award. “This represents a lot of meetings,” Sandness stated waving his certificate.
“The lifetime membership was a nice surprise,” added Krator.
“It was lovely to be recognized,” noted Kavanaugh. “It is a wonderful honour to be honoured by other members of the council.” Kavanaugh has been painting for a long time. “I remember making my own paint with vegetables back when I first started,” said Kavanaugh. “We used onion skins and beets to make paint.
Kavanaugh said, “John was a big help with our group over the years. He got stuck with a lot of the dirty work setting up and tearing down for our art shows.” The small group who could used whatever space was available and that a landlord would allow to show off their art. “We set up in the old Credit Union building, in the Arena Mezzanine and wherever else they would let us in this town,” Kavanaugh continued. “It wasn’t always easy finding a spot, but we always did.”
As active artists, the long time local residents do not think that they are done learning or creating. “I have been taking lessons for 50 years,” Kavanuagh said with a smile. “I enjoy what I do and get antsy when I have nothing on the go.”
Sandness concurred. “I sometimes look around at my walls and see how full they are and ask myself – why are you doing this?” he stated, “but I can’t seem to stop myself. I just want to keep going.”
“I will keep at this until I can’t,” said Krator. “It’s an addiction.”
Another long time Arts Council member Mary Bedford was in attendance of the event and had this to say, “The Arts Council is doing an excellent job of promoting art in Princeton.”
The groups next project is for the Manning Park “Art in the Park” celebration. Many of the local artists have agreed to paint on a small 6″x6″ canvas block an anonymous creation to display at the Art in the Park event on August 18. Their paintings will then be put on display at the Sunflower Gallery for $50 each and come with a $50 donation receipt for each participating artist..
The Princeton Arts Council has been around for a long time creating eye candy for the people of Princeton. Addiction or just passion, it doesn’t matter. All three of the local artists honoured create because it is part of who they are. Their passion has been an inspiration to others. As artists their honour is well deserved and as people it is too.