Many artists make this beautiful area their home and place of work. Small galleries and working studios abound. Meet and chat with local aartists, while you browse and buy original art.
The Legend of Red Dog - Native Artist Jeff George by Judy Johnson
A conversation with Red Dog, a red-bearded, soft-spoken, reflective man is not unlike getting to know one of his paintings – there are many layers to discover. We chatted while he relaxed on the sofa with his two rescue dogs surrounded by colourful images and symbols in paintings finished and in progress.
Red Dog, known also as Jeff George and Minemagabu, his spiritual name meaning “the one that walks in the light of the creator”, lives and works out of his home studio in Port Franks. Storyteller with brush and paint, Jeff comes from Kettle Point’s Anishinabek First Nation.
Jeff’s life experiences have had a profound influence on him; a journey of overcoming obstacles and recovering from an abusive childhood and loss of father and half-brother at an early age. A process of replacing harmful behavior with self-acceptance and embracing his inner artist – a path he intuitively knew was his destiny.
An art therapy program became a personal rebirth, providing opportunity for healing through self-expression on canvas. Through the studio’s large picture windows, the view of Carolinian forest is an invitation to walk the woods and marvel at nature’s colourful splendor. The studio’s interior view echoes that invitation. Brightly-coloured paintings call to the viewer to first enjoy at a distance, then to look more closely to find the diversity of spirit animal imagery within, then to reflect and ultimately feel their impact.
Jeff paints in the Woodland Style, recognized by its vibrant colours and abstract figures that represent spiritual and mystical objects, people and creatures. It’s a style created and made famous by Norval Morriseau, who won the Order of Canada for his achievement. Within Jeff’s work are the visual echoes of Morriseau’s and Jean Mark Jacobson’s artistic influences. Vibrant colour, two-dimensional images and sharp, distinct lines create animal and bird symbols that tell of Ojibway legends, Jeff’s own personal growth, and events that impacted him.
One of Jeff’s latest works is a large, rectangular acrylic on canvas, displaying an eagle feather embedded with symbols of strength, respect and caring. It’s a gift for his partner, a visual depiction of vows renewed. Like the universal native stories, there are lessons within the paintings. The Eagle flies high, carrying prayers and messages to the Creator. The Bear offers protection and symbolizes courage. The graceful, patient Heron stands in the midst of a treed lake, reminding people of a key Ojibway belief to protect and steward Mother Earth, the source of all life.
A self-described bad student with a lack of focus, school hours were spent doodling and drawing. Jeff’s Grade 4 teacher gave him coloured pencils and encouraged him to create a large classroom mural. By the time Jeff was in Grade 7, people visited the school to admire his chalkboard cartoons. Having others value his artwork became a source of quiet, modest pride for Jeff, who is thankful teachers encouraged his artistic talent.
Jeff, Red Dog, Minemagabu, is living his name and destiny – emerging from a world of darkness into light, healing and helping others heal through interpreting the oral stories of his people through paintings full of details to be examined.
Galleries & Working Studios
Janette Baillie Photography: 63 River Road, Grand Bend, janettebailliephotography.com, 519-238-1742.
Bill Nieuwland: Displayed at several galleries, including Sunset Arts, theartistbill.com, 519-238-6447.
Bliss Studios: 7617 Riverside Dr., Port Franks, blissstudio.info, 519-243-3598.
D. Culbard Fine Arts Studio: 30 Ontario St. S., Grand Bend, dculbardfineart.com, 519-238-0021.
JMR Art Gallery: 9 Main St. N., Bayfield, jmrcollections.com, 519-565-2213.
Lake Life Studio: 3811 Lakeshore Rd., Camlachie. lakelifestudio.com, 519-328-2217
Main Street Gallery: 4 Main St. N., Bayfield, facebook.com/mainstreetgallerybayfield, 519-565-2048.
Marten Arts Gallery: 17A Main St. N., Bayfield, martenarts.ca, 519-565-2222.
Patina Studios: 12B Main St. N., Bayfield, patinastudios.ca, 519-955-6517
Richman Gallery: 30 Alberta St., Grand Bend, 519-238-6213.
Studio 109: 239 Main St., Parkhill, mariebohm.com, 519-667-7869.
Sunset Arts: 67 River Rd., Grand Bend, sunsetarts.info, 519-238-6914.
Treehaus Canada Studio: Grand Bend, treehauscanada.ca.
Explore Your Inner Artist
The following locations offer drop-in and scheduled art classes for all ages and skill levels. Check websites for details, dates and times.
Art By 3 Studio (Port Franks): Variety of one-day art workshops, including encaustic hot wax, photo encaustic, glass jewellery, stained glass drip, fused glass and garden art. artby3.com, 519-243-3321.
Grand Bend Art Centre (Grand Bend): Offers scheduled and drop-in art classes, seminars and workshops for all ages including summer camps for kids. gbartcentre.com, 519-859-1662.
Lake Life Studio (Camlachie): A working glass art studio, retail and workshop location. lakelifestudio.com, 519-328-2217.
Oakwood Resort (Grand Bend): Hosts group creative and art events with Amy Gelinas instructing. Check oakwoodresort.ca for dates and details.
Pinedale Motor Inn (Grand Bend): Hosts group paint nights run by local professional artist. Paint your own masterpiece and enjoy a cocktail. Check website for dates and details. 107 Ontario St. S., pinedale.on.ca, 519-238-2231.
Treehaus Canada Studio (Grand Bend): A working glass art studio that offers fused glass workshops to everyone 10-years and up. treehauscanada.ca, 226-678-5118
- Paint Ontario, Grand Bend – March 29 to April 30, 2019
- Arts, Eats & Beats Studio Tour, Multiple Locations – May 4 – 5, 2019
- Lambton Colour & Craft Festival, Grand Bend – October 12 & 13, 2019
See Festivals & Events for more events, dates, times and details.