Big Brothers Big Sisters Carleton York celebrates the success of ‘big’ and ‘little’ artists

by | Sep 11, 2023

Organization’s inaugural En Plein Air event this summer could mark the beginning of an annual celebration

The “big” and “little” artists’ fun day on the Woodstock waterfront in August could mark the beginning of an annual celebration of art and an ongoing fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters Carleton-York.

On Aug. 12, the organization hosted En Plein Air, an event which paired area youth with adult artists for a day of art creation, mentorship and friendship along the downtown Woodstock waterfront.

Little brothers and sisters spent the day one-on-one with accomplished artists from the local area and beyond. The art they created was sold at a special event that evening at the historic Connell House.

The entire event met or surpassed organizers’ expectations.,

“It was so gratifying to see the ‘big’ and ‘little’ artists all working together and having fun,” said BBBSCY president Karen ‘Kippy’ Taylor.

She said all aspects of En Plein Air left a positive impression on participants and the public who watched the artists at work or attended the art show at Connell House.

“Overall, I am delighted with the results of the first En Plein Air event,” Taylor said.

She expressed delight about the turnout at Connell House and their commitment to buying the newly created art.

“All of the art created by the ‘big’ artists sold for the full asking price, so I didn’t need to be the auctioneer,” Taylor joked. “The ‘littles’ art was sold by silent auction, and they were so excited to see people appreciating their art and bidding on it.”

She said those attending the Connell House event were generous in their bids.

Woodstock Mayor Trina Jones was among the attendees.

Taylor said Jones actively supports Big Brothers and Big Sisters, serving as an in-school mentor. She added the mayor’s ‘Little Sister’ was one of the young artists.

Taylor said event sponsor Greg MacPherson of Manulife Securities also attended and supported the artists.

Taylor said she and the BBBSCY board are grateful to the talented artists who agreed to participate.

Several participating artists gathered for a barbecue at artist Suzanne Hansen’s house the night before En Plein Air.

Hansen, familiar with open-air art creation along a beautiful waterfront from her years of involvement with Hartland’s Paint the Heartland, said she happily jumped on board for such a “great cause.”

She said she reached out to the many artists she knew, and most responded positively.

While most participating artists live and work in the Upper St. John River Valley, some travelled to Woodstock to join the fun and support Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Grant Lounsbury, who teaches art at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., welcomed the chance to make the trip to Woodstock.

He said he hopes to spread the great idea to other communities.

Taylor said En Plein Air supported BBBSCY while also promoting the town.

“As a keen supporter of promoting downtown Woodstock, our beautiful rivers and creating a fun learning opportunity for our young people. En Plein Air seemed like the perfect event to achieve those goals,” she said.

As for the future, Taylor is optimistic En Plein Air will return to Woodstock.

“A number of people said, ‘I hope you will do this again next year,’ so I guess that’s an indicator of success,” she said.

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