23 Market Street West, Port Dover, ON N0A 1N0
Thursday to Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m.
We are thrilled to announce our current exhibition
"First Lift of the Spring" art exhibition with paintings by
Bruce A. Milner and Don Howell
show runs May 11 to June 18, 2017
Opening Reception Friday, May 12, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
also lake photography greeting cards by Michael Leedale
We are also pleased to carry limited copies of Arabella: The Love of Flowers, which contains 13 watercolours by local artist Carol Gerrett; The Bewundering World of Bewilderbeests, by local author and illustrator Bailey Fort; the novel Flee, Fly, Flown, by Janet Hepburn and a handprinted, handstitched poetry book,The Bruce, which is written by Janet Hepburn and illustrated by Cristina Zanella
special event: Songs of the Lake and Fishing
at the gallery Saturday, June 3, 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Bruce (House) Milner will be strumming and singing songs, stirring up tales of the lake. He will be joined by other musically talented friends. Discussion and Q&A intermingled amidst the music.
This is a free event(donation only). Everyone welcome. Come and bring a friend along.
Donations to Lakefront Preservation Association
Bruce A. Milner
Bruce was born in 1948 and has lived his entire life in Port Dover. “House” as he is widely known, worked as a farmhand in his youth and in construction at Ontario Hydro and Texaco. Bruce also worked as a commercial fisherman in the 1970s and 80s. He has been deckhand, co-captain and captain on several of the smelt draggers fishing out of Dover.
In 1990, he left the lake and began a woodworking business, Woodhouse Pine, in the house he and wife Elizabeth and her father, Harry B. Barrett, built north of Port Dover. At the same time, House pursued a music career and formed a group, The St. John’s Road House Band, playing gigs around Southern Ontario.
Fred Eaglesmith produced Bruce’s first album of original songs, “Life is for Lovin”, in 1993 featuring Fred’s group The Flying Squirrels with the late, great Willie P. Bennett. Fred also produced a solo album of House’s songs about life on the North shore; stories of shipwrecks and fishermen, called “Livin’ On A Tin Can”, about 6 years ago.
Bruce began writing songs in 1966 and in the early 70s, eight of his songs featuring Port Dover’s Cal Dodd were recorded by CBC. Bruce and Cal and Rory Dodd were in a group together called Sunny Goodge Street in those days.
Bruce has written several musical scores for local theatre productions. In particular, “Steamer Atlantic” by Simon Johnston and “Wooden Boats and Iron Men”, which he co-wrote with past Lighthouse Festival Theatre director Robert More. Several of the songs were co-written by Bruce’s writing partner J.D. Semple. The play is based on House’s life and his becoming a fisherman. The play is lyrically driven and some of the songs deal with Long Point Legends.
House began carving and painting images of Port Dover fishing life in 1990 and has had his work presented at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre Gallery in Port Dover, Norfolk Arts Centre (Lynnwood) in Simcoe and Waterford Old Town Hall Gallery in Waterford. His folk art has been promoted by Phil Ross of Shadfly Antiques and has been purchased by several prominent collectors in and out of the area.
This show at gallery23 is a collection of new work with a couple of previous pieces. Bruce’s art depicts the iconic imagery of Port Dover’s marine culture. Low-relief carvings, wood-burnings, paintings on board and canvas, dioramas and boat models are the mediums employed. House’s art is an impressionistic caricature of his world.
Born and raised in Port Dover, Don and his family moved to California twenty-four years ago, where he now manages a large orchid nursery for a Dutch-based breeder and propagator. His interest in painting is somewhat of an accident. Don began constructing toyboxes for his grandchildren and others, painting their names on the front of each box. As his confidence grew, he added small scenes beside the name that would have a theme connected to the child. He has produced over 30 toyboxes so far.
Growing up on Black Creek in Port Dover, Don spent much of his childhood on the river at a time before the commercial basin was constructed and fish tugs lined both sides of the river. He got to know many of the captains and some would let him spend a day onboard shoveling smelt into the wooden crates and then icing them down. The history of each boat, the builder and who the previous owners were always was of great interest.
Paintings of the Dover harbour scenes by local artists always attracted Don’s attention and paintings collected over the years grace his home in California. His grandmother, Wyn Howell, was an avid painter and loved to paint harbour scenes. When she was not satisfied with her sketch of a fish tug, Don would draw it for her.
Don’s favourite painting is by a well-known artist who lived in Port Dover for a time in the 1960s, John Bechtel. John’s most recognizable work included the stage backdrop at the Summer Gardens and the large mural in Watkinson’s Men’s store. Bechtel also painted the Iveyrose tug with the Erie Beach in the background. The Iveyrose was a familiar sight in the harbour for many years. Don built a toybox and used Bechtel’s painting as the inspiration for the Iveyrose he painted on the front of the box. The result was good enough to encourage him to paint other Port Dover boats without being attached to a toybox.
In the past 2 years, Don has painted over 30 paintings focused on the Port Dover harbour and the boats that worked from there. He paints in acrylic and uses pine as his canvas. Don also makes his own frames and includes historical notes of each boat on the back of the paintings.
This will be the first time his work will be on exhibit and Don is excited to meet up with old friends and others who share an interest in Port Dover’s fishing past.