Aylmer Arts Council: 60 years in the making, a three-part series
In 1955, a group of ladies, artists with a vision and a purpose, all with art degrees and attitudes to match, met and discussed the value of having art and culture at the forefront of the City of Aylmer. And as we know it today, the Aylmer Arts Council began its journey. Over the years, it gained strength while offering art instruction in schools and holding modest art festivals. Combining drama, literature, dance, music, arts and crafts, the artists lit up Aylmer with cultural festivities and fundraising events, so much so that in 1961 the group made headlines in The Ottawa Journal. The newspaper announced a then-upcoming exhibition by some of the Aylmer co-founding artists: “Mrs. Shirley Van Dusen, Mrs. Marjorie (Lusk) Fortey, Mrs. Joan Wright- Donaldson (the sparkplug of the group), Mrs. O’Gorman…The modest exhibition includes both representational and abstract art….”
One of the group’s many early endeavors was opening a library in the community; it was the first of its kind in the region. Art education is a vital part of the Association’s activities. From the very beginning, the artists taught classes, sponsored by the Association, wherever they were asked and needed, giving children and adults the opportunity to try different art mediums and crafts.
After many years, the City of Aylmer began co-sponsoring their art classes and published their programs as part of its recreational activities guide, in the cultural and visual arts section. Classes were held mostly in schools and in city-owned buildings. The Association’s instructors became well-known and even famous in the “art world.” The many dedicated mentors who have given so much of their time and energy over the years include Robert Hyndman, Shirley Van Dusen, Desmond Major, Pauline Faithfull, Marjorie Foley, Rita Rodrigue, Lucie Routhier, Nicole Geoffory, Marielle Boileau (Trottier), Danielle Paré and so many others who took, and still take, art education to heart.
Member of the Aylmer Arts Council
Courtesy Diane Groulx
and the Aylmer Arts Council