Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Northern Exposure 2.0

"She Walked Into A Field of Poppies" (buy it HERE)

Now, she lives in a tiny northern town
where the snow swirls in beneath the door,
and the lakes, trees, and rocks
take her breath away.

BENNINGTON -- That tiny northern town where the snow swirls in beneath the door is called Virginiatown, in the township of McGarry, in the province of Ontario, in the country of Canada, on a piece of Earth that Art Gallery Dude had no idea existed until yesteday when the box arrived. Virginiatown's population of 595 includes a woman by the name of Sylvia Grantins. The lakes, trees, and rocks of Virginiatown take her breath away.

On a Google map Virginiatown in McGarry in Ontario in Canada looks like this ...

... Virginiatown in the heart of McGarry Township sits 381 miles from Ottawa, Ontario, and 423 miles from Montreal, Quebec, and 450 miles north of Buffalo, New York, United States.

Here's what it looks like overhead ...

Photo courtesy of McGarry's website HERE

The Timiskaming Health Unit boasts one doctor and two nurses. Twenty-four volunteers and three vehicles comprise the firefighting brigade. Transportation (40) and food and beverage (30) provides the most jobs. For prescription drugs and video rentals and toiletries you go to Chez Lucie convenience store. Virginiatown is home to the French Catholic school Ecole Catholique Saint-Louis and an eatery called Roadside Joint. Artist William Edge lives there. A century ago they mined for gold and zinc and silver along Larder Lake and Cadillac Break, and another cool thing about McGarry Township is that it sits along the northern route of the Transcontinental Canada Highway -- Canada's Route 66. McGarry's 20-page town report (HERE) speaks to the outdoor enthusiast's "utopia" because of pike and walleye and whitefish and lake trout and wild blueberries and fresh water springs and towering timber of the Canadian Shield and Mt. Cheminis.

And that's where the artist by the name of Sylvia Grantins enters the picture again, because she paints McGarry's utopian backdrop on canvas with acrylic paint, and the wonderful contents of the aforementioned box were hers.

Two things about Grantins -- three, actually -- stood out after Art Gallery Dude opened the box she sent Fiddlehead. It contained 8 of her works.

The first thing was the title she gave for the painting above -- "She Walked Into A Field of Poppies" -- and AGD enjoyed that little bit of whimsy.

The second thing was her collection of 8-by-8 paintings. Here are the other 7 ...

"Laundry Day"

"The Red Barn"

"Winter Twinkle"


"Orange Poppies"

"Snowy Woods"


The third thing was the bio Sylvia Grantins wrote:

"Sylvia was born on a gorgeous autumn day in 1968. She grew up in the lush woods of rural Ontario, just outside the boundaries of Algonquin Park. As the daughter of two artists, Sylvia drew and painted at an early age. She explored springtime creeks, skated on the lake, built forts, and played endless Monopoly with her big sister.

"Her younger years and life experience found her making a living at various jobs such as retail, baking, computer sales, and waitressing. Then, an opportunity to go treeplanting into the wilds of the north arose. There, a powerful love for northern Ontario emerged and took her there for good (maybe). During all these odd jobs, a career in art finally began to take hold. Now, she lives in a tiny northern town where the snow swirls in beneath the door, and the lakes, trees, and rocks take her breath away.

"Work days find her making the long commute from the bedroom to the kitchen table where the blank canvasses (and her clothes) are soon covered in bright dabs and waves, and spirals of bright colours. All of her scenes are inspired by real-life places, with a bit of imagination.

"Sylvia's paintings are found in collections across Canada and all over the world."

Eight of those acrylics pieces hang at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery in downtown Bennington, Vermont, which is 638 miles from Virginiatown, McGarry, Ontario, Canada ...

Surrounding a Michalopoulos lithograph

Art enthusiasts can come see (and buy) them in person or HERE.

Here's the best song describing life in a northern town. The best way to read this piece is to listen to the song at the same time because the music will take your breath away, too ...