There is a place on Highway 7 just a bit east of Actinolite and the intersection with Highway 37 (running south to Belleville) that Raymond and I have passed dozens and dozens of times now but, until one very recent weekend, had never ventured into. It is an art gallery called Studio 737 (you can probably figure out from my first sentence where the name comes from) and its sign proclaims “Fine Art Gallery” and “10 Rooms of Art to Enjoy!” But its appearance is very nondescript, so we always kind of wondered how “fine” the “fine art” would be.
But after the 123rd-anniversary service at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough, we decided we needed a Sunday-afternoon drive. And we decided that Studio 737 would be our starting point. (Our end point was the hamlet of Johnson’s Corners, or [in latter-day nomenclature] Elzevir, but that’s another story.)
Well! What a discovery!
Owners Arja Palonen and Joe Kurek (Arja is one of the artists, and a very talented one at that) have a little wonderland of Canadian art in their nondescript (from the outside) gallery at Highways 7 and 37. The rooms just go on and on, and a visitor is overwhelmed by the colour and the beauty of the work. It really is fine art – in the middle of almost nowhere in the centre of Hastings County. Which, when you come to think of it, is kind of at the heart of Canada.
We had a lovely time looking through it all. And I came away from the visit with a birthday present! Because my birthday was coming up at the time – and is in fact today, which is the genesis of this post – Raymond bought for me a lovely little painting that I was admiring very much. It is by Sherrill Girard, an Ontario native who now, as it happens, lives in the next neighbourhood over to us in Montreal. And it is called Sea to Sky. And it has a lot of turquoise in it.
And it now hangs very happily at the Manse – a wonderful gift from my husband, and a reminder of a happy Sunday drive, and a great discovery.