The Beach Guild of Fine Art will be holding the 17th annual Art Down by the Bay Show and Sale Sept. 24 and 25, at the Beaches Lions’ Club on Ashbridges Bay (foot of Coxwell). This is the popular fall show by the guild showcasing the work of more than 40 of its members. New this year, the show will feature a special abstract and contemporary gallery.

Along with the many examples of original art work, the Down by the Bay show features a gift card and boutique shop on the main floor of the clubhouse. Here you can purchase small original works as well as prints, and gift cards. There will be a lucky draw – usually of a group painting – and refreshments. Admission is free, and the show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. For more information visit

Joyce Nelson inhabits the perfect Beach artist’s garret. It’s a small studio/apartment with an enormous outdoor deck on the second floor above a store on Queen Street near Woodbine. It faces south so she gets plenty of sunlight all year, and it overlooks the street in such a way that she can people watch through the trees.

“And Dufflet’s is right across the street!,” she says. Nelson is a member of the Beach Guild of Fine Art and will be participating in this year’s Down by the Bay Show and Sale. Nelson paints large abstract acrylics, and is excited by this year’s Down by the Bay show since there will be a special abstract and contemporary gallery as part of the exhibition.

Nelson is originally from the United States, but came to Canada – Kingston to be specific – back in the 1970s. She lived in another part of Toronto from 1976 through to 1990 before moving out to British Columbia. It was while out west that she became interested in art, studying watercolour technique at a school there.

“The teacher said I showed some promise,” she said. “He really encouraged me.” When she came back to Toronto a friend told her about the art program at Central Tech High School. “It was a full time, three-year program for adults, from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] daily. And it was free! It was a terrific program for getting the basics in place.” While at Central Tech she majored in sculpture, and still has a few around her studio.

Nelson moved into the Beach in 2004, and discovered the Beach Guild of Fine Art while attending one of the spring shows at Kew (Gardener’s) Cottage in 2005.

“There are some really great people in the Guild,” Nelson said. “It’s such a great community.” Since joining the Guild she has participated in  three of its exhibitions, as well as about 20 other group and solo shows locally.

While sipping herb tea and eating Dufflet’s cookies on her deck, we took the time to talk about the creative process. Nelson’s studio apartment is very tiny so I asked her where she painted her large canvases.

“I move the furniture out of the room and roll up the rug,” she said. “It’s part of my ritual of starting and ending.” Nelson’s early artistic expression was landscape painting, and she says that even now, “I fight the tendency to turn everything into landscapes.” But her current work is anything but landscape-like. “I enjoy playing with colour and texture,” she says. And the bold colours, vivid shapes, large canvases that dominate the walls of her studio space are a testament to that play.

Nelson is also an accomplished figure drawer who keeps her talents in that medium sharp by regularly attending the Toronto School of Art, where she can drop in and sketch the models without someone peering over her shoulder in judgment. She’d like to be able to combine the two styles. “I’d like to find a way to marry fine drawing with my abstract work,” she says.

At university, before turning to art, Nelson majored in English and became a writer who now specializes in environmental writing for such publications as the Watershed Sentinel, The Internationalist, and The Monitor, a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Shifting gears between the two disciplines is not difficult for Nelson.

“When I’m tired of being in my left brain hemisphere,” she says, “I try to make the leap over to my right hemisphere.”

Painting, for Nelson is almost a Zen experience. “Often I don’t know where I’m going when I start a work,” she says. “But doing the work helps keep me in the moment. I find, though, I sometimes have to get out of the way.” I tell her, I completely understand what she is saying, that I have heard similar thoughts from other artists. I ask if she finds painting a struggle; is she a tortured artist?

Nelson smiles and says, “Painting is total pleasure… and total play!”

Elsewhere in the Beach Arts Scene
The Grad Lounge of York University, 166 South Ross Building, will be the venue for a special exhibition of recent paintings by Tamara Thalmann, until the end of December. Thalmann is a Swiss-Canadian artist who lives and works in the Beach. Her medium to large paintings are in the abstract expressionist style, and this current show, called Defense Mechanisms, is inspired by her clinical psychology. For more information visit Thalmann’s website at

The Society of Estonian Artists in Toronto (EKKT) is holding the 56th annual Art Show and Sale, Oct. 1 to 4, at the Estonian House – O. Timmas Gallery, 958 Broadview Ave. There will be more than 60 paintings on exhibit by artists from Canada, the US and a guest artist from Estonia. Several artists live in the Beach area.
There will be a special address by EKKT President, Mai Vomm Järve, on October 1, at 2 p.m. Admission to the show is free. For more information call EKKT at 416-250-1245 or visit

Hang Man Gallery, 756 Queen St. E., presents an exhibition of works by artist Anahita Loghmanifar, called Beyond the Words, Sept. 27 through Oct. 16.  Longhmanifar’s paintings “examine the boundaries of language and writing as an abstract notion. Pushing past linguistic meanings, the works create their own perceptions and interpretations.”
For more information call the Hang Man Gallery at 416-465-0302, or visit

Imagine being a well-respected professional artist, and suddenly losing your ability to use your drawing hand! That is exactly what happened to Beach artist John Newman in 2006 after complications from transverse myelitis, a lung tumor and a stroke.
Newman, who had enjoyed a career of more than 50 years found himself only able to use his left hand. Determined to be able to draw again Newman undertook a 16-month rehabilitation struggle, and eventually taught himself to draw with his left hand.
His recent drawings will be on display at a special exhibition called Right To Left, at the Kinsman Robinson Galleries, 108 Cumberland Street, running now until Oct. 8. The show will consist of 33 works, including 22 new pastels drawn by Newman’s left hand, as well as some work completed prior to his illness.
For more information call Kinsman Robinson Galleries at 416-964-2374, or visit

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As John Newman’s son I wish to thank Beach Metro for their article on the John Newman: Left To Right exhibition. It brought in many viewers, old and new to see Dad’s work. Dad met neighbours and new friends from the Beach at the gallery. Our family’s formative years were in our beautiful house on Hammersmith. As we had moved from Mississauga (I was eleven at the time and thought I’d died and gone to heaven) the 60 year old Oaks were amazing to me, almost out of a Tolkien tale. I know Dad’s years on hammersmith were some of his most productive years as an artist, and some of the models for his figurative works were local Beach residents, like Vicky (nee McElcheran) McCrae. She is the daughter of the world famous sculpture William McElcheran, and and was a resident of Balsam Ave., (about five doors away from painter William Kurelek’s house). It was Bill McElcheran’s love of the area that brought us to the Beach in 1969, where we met so many interesting people and ended up loved living. I would say those years on Hammersmith contain our happiest memories as a family.

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