In the grand scheme of things, 10 years may not seem like a lot of time.
To partners with the Tidnish Bridge Art Gallery, it’s the length of time it has taken to grow from an idea to become a well recognized and successful attraction in the northwestern corner of the province tucked just inside the Nova Scotia border.
“We couldn’t really ask for anything better. We have a stable group of partners and a lot of community support,” Cathy Thurston said.
The gallery opened for its 10th season in late May and will celebrate its birthday in grand style with an open house and party on July 6 that will feature work by each of the facility’s eight partners and music by Truro pianist Merv Henwood.
Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Deputy Warden Joe van Vulpen and Rod Gilroy from the community association will also be invited to speak during the celebration.
The gallery is located in the former visitor information centre at the border and once housed an interpretive display on the history of the Chignecto Marine Ship Railway. The gallery still features a display on the ship railway, but its walls are adorned with numerous pieces of visual arts from paintings, to photographs and charcoal drawings while there is also pottery and other items.
Artist Diana Vertis McIsaac saw opportunity in the empty building soon after the interpretive centre closed. She saw it as a place for a few artists to get together to show off their work, and perhaps sell a few pieces from their collection.
“The gallery has done well over these 10 years, but I’ve had a lot of help,” McIsaac said. “We work very well together and that’s one of the main reasons it has been so successful.”
Between 1,500 and 1,700 people visit the museum with visitors coming from as far away as the United States, Japan and Europe.
“The location is excellent,” Thurston said. “We have people coming in all the time from New Brunswick and P.E.I. as well as from Pugwash and Tatamagouche and from Amherst. I think we’ve had people in from all the Canadian provinces and most of the United States. I think we also have every continent covered, except for Antarctica.”
Well known author and conservationist Harry Thurston said the gallery has been successful in that it provides a service.
“There is a desire for people to enjoy art, participate in art and our workshops have been part of our success,” he said. “One of the most satisfying things you see is when you see young people come in and we have parents who bring their children in to participate in our workshops. It’s important to lay a foundation in the community for an appreciation of art.”
Laurell Hamilton said the cohesiveness of the partners has played an important role in how everyone is prepared to work together to put the gallery first.
“We all have a similar vision so when we’re making decisions it goes very smoothly,” she said. “There’s hardly any conflict. Everyone loves being here.”
Classes include watercolour painting for beginners (adults) and intermediates (ages 12 and up), acrylic painting and pottery – including hand-built and wheel.
Workshops include Creating a Unique T-Shirt on July 29 with McIsaac and Block Printing with Hamilton on Aug. 17.
While Margaret Wiles has retired from the museum, she will have an exhibition there this summer along with new partner Doris Daigle, Bob Morouney, Nancy Spear, Gwen Dixon, Hamilton and gallery students.
Spear is launching her book, Nelly & the Mother Line: Roaming the Maritimes Finding 9 Generations of Acadian Mothers, on June 28 at 7 p.m. while former Mount Allison University poet laureate Marilyn Lerch will launch her book, That We Have Lived At All: poems of love, witness and gratitude, on July 12 at 7 p.m.
The Art Across the Marsh Studio Tour will also include the gallery on Oct. 19 and 20. It will also mark the gallery’s closing for another season.