Edge Arts seeking local artists to get creative with seniors

A new opportunity to get creative is available senior residents in Nipigon and the surrounding area.

Edge Arts Studio and Gallery has put out an all-call to members of the community, looking for art instructors, senior artists, and senior Indigenous artists to get involved with the delivery of new art programs for local seniors.

Edge Arts program facilitator Bernadette Langthorne said that it’s all part of “getting people out, trying new things, [and] being a gathering spot.”

The development of new senior art programs is made possible by funding from the New Horizons for Seniors program run by the federal government.

The purpose of the federal program is to provide funding for projects that positively impact the lives of senior citizens across Canada and make a difference in their lives and their communities.

“What that does is, it’s aimed mostly at getting seniors involved and [it’s] kind of multi-generational like seniors coming out [and] teaching other seniors new skills or teaching the younger generation skills that maybe have gone by the wayside – stuff like embroidery, things that… not so many people know how to do anymore,” Langthorne said.

Community-based projects are eligible to receive up to $25,000 for one year.

“We have a ton of talent here in Nipigon,” Langthorne said. “And, some of them just need a little prodding to get out, to come out and say, ‘this is what I do and I can show you how to do it.’”

“We’re also interested in bringing in artists and artisans from the surrounding area.”

For example, Bev Turpin, a multimedia artist from Rossport, is going to at the Edge Arts studio on Nov. 13 to teach participants to paint with ink.

Langthorne, who took on the role of program facilitator in October, is hopeful that with continued funding from the province and support from the community, Edge Arts can host activities and classes that keep people engaged and connected.

”We aim for the classes to be 55 and up — much like the 55 Plus Centre in Thunder Bay,” Langthorne said. “However, if the class isn’t filling up we open it up to everybody.”

She also runs Blue Moose Cookie Company in Nipigon and previously led cookie-decorating and crafting workshops at Edge Arts.

She said that, although custom cookie crafting is her “claim to fame,” she is grateful for her new role.

Her enthusiasm is infectious.

“This position makes me get out, makes me interact with people, makes me pick up the phone and talk to people and say, ‘hey, come teach a course’… talking about different courses in the grocery store – I turn into a four year old, ‘hey, guess what I’m doing?!’ – just getting that out there, what we’re doing, and inviting people in,” Langthorne said. “I’ve worked a number of different positions – in the bank and in social work – and, honestly, I think this is the best job ever.”

“I would love to see this building utilized every day. The more people we get through the door, the more programs we offer, the better off the community is. Covid really sheltered everybody. For so long, we weren’t allowed to go out and then people got comfortable at home.”

It was shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic began that Nipigon received a capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to transform three downtown buildings into what would become the Edge Arts Studio and Gallery.

“The building that we are in was formerly three buildings that were right side-by-side… so they joined them together,” Langthorne said.

The location is now comprised of Langthorne’s office, gallery space, a workshop area, and a health-unit approved kitchen.

With major pandemic restrictions and lockdowns over, Langthorne said that she is focused on giving people a comfortable space to reconnect and try something new or to just relax if that’s what they’re looking for.

“Now, what we’re trying to do is to… give [people] a welcoming, non-judgmental place to come,” Langthorne said. “If they want to come and do art, that’s fine — if they don’t want to do it, just have coffee, that’s fine too — there’s no pressure... this is a safe place.”

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,