The 30th anniversary celebrations have begun at TOSH, where the first of two art exhibits celebrating 15 years of TOSH history and creativity is now open.
The Old School House Arts Centre (located at 122 Fern Rd. West in Qualicum Beach) officially opened on Feb. 27, 1988, and many of the artists in this exhibition, which celebrates the art centre’s first 15 years, have been involved with the centre from that time, or in some cases even earlier.
Wood carver Francois Mongeau helped to put the school house building back into shape.
“I was part of the process of creating The Old School House from day one on,” he said, including taking part in the renovations of the building.
Photographer Don Emerson also worked on the building.
“I was very fortunate to have been involved with TOSH right from the beginning and spent a good part of 1987 as a volunteer in restoring the building to its present state,” Emerson said. “Volunteers worked at the weekends mostly, whilst a crew of guys from Brennan Lake correctional institute worked on it throughout the week.”
Both Mongeau and Emerson were among the first to be resident artists at TOSH. Emerson was able to set up a darkroom “which I and a number of other photographers through the years have kept going,” he said. “It is presently shared with Paul Kyba and occasionally Jim Roscoe from Lasqueti Island.”
Mongeau spent six years working in a TOSH studio before moving to a home studio.
“Like any new venture there were growing pains associated with the process,” he said of early TOSH. “But a lot of life-long friendships grew among residents… many a good memory attached to TOSH.”
Emerson, on the other hand, said he believes he’s the last remaining original studio tenant from TOSH’s opening in 1988.
Others, such as Nanaimo painter Gerda Hofman, discovered TOSH after its opening. She and her husband have participated in every Grand Prix d’Art event that TOSH has held for the past 25 years, she said.
She also used to run the life drawing classes on Friday mornings.
“It is a great gallery and it is run very professionally… Nanaimo could use a building for the arts, just like TOSH.”
The TOSH 30th Anniversary: The First Fifteen Years exhibit began Jan. 29, and runs until Feb. 18.
It will include a wide variety of artwork, ranging from photography to blown glass to pottery, paintings and more.
For more info about TOSH, go to www.theoldschoolhouse.org.
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