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THE CREATIVE SPIRIT   by Laura Hollick, View Magazine, April 14, 2005

The energy of a group can sometimes be more intense than working on your own. This is what most team-sport athletes would say, but you might not expect to hear that from an artist. Most artists prefer to have their own space and do their own thing, rather than work in a team environment. But no one can deny magic, even if it comes from an unlikely source.

Locally, a group of women artists have happened upon such an occurrence, discovering that the combination of all their energies actually deepened their creative process and perpetuated the development of their art.

“There are times when you are just certain that you are meant to be together with people”, says Rashne Baetz, one of the artists in this group.

What originated as a class at the Dundas Valley School of Art - the Enhanced Studio Class, led by V. Jane Gordon - transformed into a group of dedicated artists supporting each other in their creative pursuits. A collection of the work made by this group is on display at the You Me Gallery on James Street North, called ‘We 2005’.

The individual artists here are Rashne Baetz, Maureen Eustace, Lynn Mills, Patricia Seeley, Diana Gordon, Fleur-Ange Lamothe, Arlene Laskey, Ulrike Balke and Anne Oakley. Some are local, while Mills and Eustace make the trek from Toronto to spend time with the others.

“These artists vary in their amount of experience,” V. Jane Gordon says proudly. These artists are all interested in ideas and all open to change and experimentation. They are some of the most alive people I have ever met.”

“We strove to push ourselves further with our artistic expression and were superbly guided by our teacher Jane Gordon,” Baetz says of her group experience.

Each artist in the group has their own touch and style, but it is easy to see the commonalities that attract these people together.

“Although each of our projects we worked on was so different,” Baetz goes on to say, “we seemed to have a common theme of connecting our inner and outer worlds through our art.”

For example, Diana Gordon’s ‘Domestic Intimacies’ captures mundane moments with a colourful zest. Multiple, small oil on canvas panels showing various things - like the kitchen facet above, for instance - are arranged in a patchwork quilt style on a plastic tablecloth cut into the shape of a housecoat.

Lynn Mills displays a unique surface for painting on in ‘The Absolute Eye’, with the use of slate. Beneath these rocked paintings, she has constructed small hut-like wall mounts showcasing poetic words of wisdom behind each door.

Maureen Eustace, displays a painterly version of a landscape called ‘On the Edge’. It could be seen as energized with fear or passion, depending on the mood you approach it with.

Incorporating elements of nature and engineered design, Patricia Seeley, shows ‘You are Here’, a collaged image with simple elegance.

Anne Oakley abstracts portions of landscapes by breaking up the surface with shapes. In ‘Creek in Winter’ she is interested in showing how things are connected.

Arlene Laskey has rainbowed a canvas surface with brushwork that take on the shape of woman in ‘Waking the Goddess’.

Rashne Baetz’s ‘Injoy’ is a colour blast of expression dancing across the canvas surface with liquid shapes.

Fleur-Ange Lamothe’s abstract colour field paintings are blitzing and sizzling with a desire to speak.

Ulrike Balke’s ‘Avon Calling No. 1’ combines collaged images with painting. The result is a mindscape of graffiti-like indulgences.

As a team, these artists have managed to support each other as a group while maintaining their individuality. These nine artists are connected by their passion for creating art, and their unique ability to be themselves amongst others. This tribe has got creative spirit.

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