East Toronto artist Anne-Marie Olczak’s Kodachrome exhibit now on in Elora

Anne-Marie Olczak, local artist behind the Kodachrome exhibit currently on display at the Elora Centre for the Arts, with her paintings on the exhibit’s opening day. Photo by Michelle Quance.


Anne-Marie Olczak, a self-described abstract painter, has been a vibrant East Toronto arts community member for decades. Based in the Beach, her current project and exhibit uses colourful grids as a framework to explore colour and the application of paint, drawing inspiration from her family’s old Kodachrome slides.

Olczak’s current exhibit, Kodachrome, at the Elora Centre for the Arts, encapsulates her journey through her memories with colour representation, blending traditional and modern artistic techniques.

The work is deeply personal, rooted in the saturated hues captured in her father’s amateur photography from her youth. “It started with a tube of cadmium red paint I was given as a sampler, which reminded me of a corner of a hat I had when I was about seven or eight years old that I got at Ontario Place and instead just triggered this idea about colours from my childhood,” she said.

This journey through her family’s photographed memories took her back to her childhood in the 1970s in Scarborough, with vibrant reds, playground oranges, and brilliant blues reminiscent of the era.

In her exhibit, Olczak uses old family slides to challenge her usual palette, matching these super-saturated colours with her paints and pigments.

“What started as an exercise in exploring colour became more about memory and nostalgia,” she said.

The grid provides a structured canvas for this exploration, said Olczak, containing the emotions tied to the colours and memories from the slides. By layering colour and working deliberately with grids and lines, she creates a depth in her paintings that prompts emotional responses.

According to Olczak, visitors to her Kodachrome exhibit have noted how the colours she selected resonate with their personal experiences, emphasizing the powerful connection between colour and memory. She said each colour within her paintings is carefully chosen to represent specific experiences and memories from Olczak’s life, yet they manage to evoke a sense of shared nostalgia among viewers.

Olczak has been an active participant in the East Toronto art scene for years, with past showings at local art establishments such as Cobalt Gallery and Blue Crow Gallery. She has also participated in local events such as the Beaches Art and Craft Fair and the Danforth East Art Fair.

Currently, she serves as the curator for the art on The Gallery Wall at the Might and Main Coffee Shop on Main Street and The Gallery Wall on Location at Mark Richards Real Estate on Queen Street East. She said her role as a curator allows her to feature local and out-of-town artists, bringing a rotating array of art to the community.

“I like it (being a curator for local spaces) because it can bring in local artists into there specifically, but also people from outside Toronto to just, you know, see something a little different on the wall in there, and we do it on a rotating basis,” she said. “And, last year was the first year I was completely booked for the year, like at the beginning of the year, which is kind of cool for me.”

Living in the Beach for nearly 30 years and raising her family here, Olczak’s connection to the community is profound. She first moved to the neighbourhood from east Scarborough while attending high school at Notre Dame Catholic High School.

Kodachrome is Olczak’s third solo exhibit. She has also had past solo exhibits at the Cobalt Gallery, formerly in Kingston Road Village, and Michelle Quance’s Studio in the Upper Beach.

The Kodachrome exhibit runs until July 14 at the Elora Centre for the Arts in Elora, Ontario. Admission is free. For more information, please visit https://eloracentreforthearts.ca/

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