Clipboard in hand, Karen Peperkorn makes the rounds of this year’s Paint the Town exhibition, trying to determine which three paintings merit “Best in Show.” As an arts educator, she is looking at technical expertise, medium, and success in capturing the historical aspect of the Old Sydenham Heritage Conservation District. All works are given serious attention.
Seventeen artists have submitted pieces that they started or completed during the September Paint the Town weekend event. Some of the artworks were executed en plein air; others were finished in the studio. Now, gracing the walls of the WAG, are 29 small to medium-sized paintings and drawings, and one collage, offering a diverse perspective on one of Kingston’s best-known neighbourhoods — from intimate close-ups of doorways, through courtyards, gardens and porches, to stately red-brick mansions with distinctive towers and decorative gingerbread. Limestone makes an appearance, of course, in homes, churches and imposing municipal architecture. We are further treated to waterfront and lake views, streetscapes, and also the more unassuming or hidden aspects of the district in its laneways.
The job of judging and sifting is never easy, but Karen has a long history of scrutinizing artwork. Thirty years ago she founded the Creative Arts Focus Program at QECVI (which moved to LCVI when QE was demolished). A unique and well-respected program, its goal is to help teenagers create portfolios that allow them to enter any fine art or design field at the post-secondary level.
Recently retired after a 38-year career with the Limestone District School Board, Karen now teaches portfolio preparation and other courses at the Kingston School of Art. Today, as Paint the Town judge, she will select a further three paintings — Honourable Mentions — from the images that, once again this year, provide a snapshot of a corner of our town.
Paint the Town 2020 continues until January 4, with health protocols in place for in-gallery visits, until Dec. 22nd. The online gallery remains available for viewing and purchasing throughout the holidays.
Ulrike Bender is a former graphic designer, art director and ESL teacher who, in retirement, has ventured into photography. She is currently a volunteer gallery assistant at the WAG and a docent at Agnes.