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(posted on 1 Sep 2016)

In Memoriam: Jennifer Cline

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Jennifer Cline with a painting from the Beach Guild of Fine Art’s 20th anniversary exhibition in 2014. PHOTO: Beach Metro News File / Jon Muldoon

The Beach has lost one of its brightest artistic stars. Jennifer Cline, known as much for her technically proficient watercolours as her omnipresence on Queen Street with her fiery red hair and trusty bicycle, passed away peacefully on July 27 after a six-month battle with brain cancer.

Cline is well-known to long-time Beach residents, artists and art lovers, having painted her much-beloved neighbourhood for decades. She was a founding member of the Beach Guild of Fine Art, alongside Wynona Gallop, Shirley Jones, Mary Cserepy, the late William Taylor, Carolyn Pack, and Janice Gibbins. Both solo and with the Guild, Cline exhibited her work in numerous galleries, including many shows at the Beacher Café and 15 years as part of the Beach Studio Tour.

Valerie Cline, Jennifer’s niece, said her aunt symbolized the neighbourhood she loved and lived in for more than three decades.

“From my perspective, she pretty much was the Beach for me,” said Valerie. “I was always amazed at how many people she would say hello to, and how many people she knew.”

Jennifer treasured the trees, parks, architecture and character of the Beach, said Valerie.

“I know she really passionately wanted to preserve that,” she said.

“The Jazz festival, the shops, the markets, the people – she was just so passionate about all of it, and connected to all of it … In many ways she was sort of a documentarian.”

Cline painted many of the shops along Queen Street over almost 40 years, building a legacy of images of that very character she treasured, and her art has in many cases outlasted the businesses she painted.

Along with Queen Street and the Jazz Festival, her floral and historical paintings are equally treasured records of the past. She has been commissioned to commemorate significant anniversaries at the Balmy Beach Club and Community Centre 55, and was generous with contributing her work to local causes.

Cline trained at the Ontario College of Art on a scholarship from the Eagle Pencil Company, one of only two ever given out. She worked as a commercial artist for companies such as the Cockfield Brown Agency, Eaton’s and The Bay, where she honed the technical proficiency some might not even know she had.

Valerie said sorting through her aunt’s old work, some dating from as far back as her high school years, was something of a revelation, revealing a mastery of everything from catalogue and fashion work to architectural drawing and even caricatures.

“Her ability to naturally capture perspective and proportion just blew me away,” said Valerie, and her caricatures were “as good as the best newspaper political caricatures that you see today.”

When Cline gave up commercial work for fine art, business became something of a lower priority, and she often donated her time and talents, said Valerie.

“Her priority was purpose and passion,” she said. “She really did have a great heart when it came to helping a cause.”

The Beach was not just Jennifer’s home, it was also her muse, said Valerie. In a 2014 interview with Beach Metro News marking the Guild’s 20th anniversary, Jennifer stated as much. After discussing all the spots she’s painted around the world – Greece, England, Colombia, France – she said she still always returns to her favourite place to paint: home.

“That expanse of sea and sky at the end of the street, where else do you get that in Toronto?” she asked.

A private ceremony has taken place, but Valerie is hoping to organize a chance for Beachers to celebrate Jennifer’s life. Email her at valerie.cline@gmail.com to share condolences and to stay informed on memorial plans.

(posted on 5 Jul 2016)

Guild celebrates 20 years of Beach art

By Jon Muldoon • September 9, 2014
The Beach Guild of Fine Art is celebrating 20 years this fall with a new location for its annual fall show.

Jennifer Cline, one of seven founding members of the Guild, will miss the waterfront location of the Beaches Lions’ clubhouse, where the group of 55 artists has held previous shows. However, the beautifully renovated Beach United Church should prove an ideal replacement, with the combination of the enhanced building and its location on Wineva Avenue just north of Queen Street East.

Painter and one of the founding members of the Beach Guild of Fine Art Jennifer Cline shows one of the paintings that will be available at the Guild’s Art in the Beach show. PHOTO: Jon Muldoon

Cline said she’s looking forward to discovering the advantages of the new venue, including its location in the heart of a creative – and creativity-loving – neighbourhood.

“The Beach is a great community for art and artists,” she said.

Cline originally trained at the Ontario College of Art, on a full scholarship offered by the Eagle Pencil Company. She spent most of her career working as a commercial artist, for companies including the Cockfield Brown Agency, Eaton’s and The Bay. In the 1980s she rekindled her love of watercolour painting and has been producing fine art ever since.

“I love the whole design aspect of art,” she said. “Sometimes the design aspect creeps into my paintings.”

Cline, who paints mainly in watercolour and sometimes acrylic, grew up in Scarborough, but moved to the Beach in 1976. She paints local scenes, sketching or painting on site, as well as occasional work based on historic photographs.

“I do the past, and the present, and the jazz festival, I never run out of things to paint,” she said. “I love being outdoors and painting.”

Her work has been commissioned by organizations such as Community Centre 55 and the Balmy Beach Club, is featured on the Beach BIA’s light post banners, can be seen on posters and greeting cards available in a number of Queen Street shops, and has been featured in a number of gallery and outdoor art shows. She takes part in Guild shows, and was part of the Beach Studio Tour for 15 years as well.

While that might seem like a lot of art to produce, Cline said she never ceases to be inspired by her surroundings.

She’s painted around Toronto, as well as in Greece, England, Colombia and France. Despite her travels, she keeps coming back to her favourite subject, the Beach.

“That expanse of sea and sky at the end of the street, where else do you get that in Toronto?”

Art in the Beach (formerly called Art Down By the Bay) takes place at Beach United Church on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20 and 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19. The free show features work from more than 40 of the Guild’s 55 members. A boutique section will feature cards, prints and originals under $150.

(posted on 19 May 2014)

Nice editorial of Lynda Freeman and coverage of our upcoming spring show by the Beach Metro News

http://www.beachmetro.com/2014/05/13/painter-branches-guild-show/

Painter Lynda Freeman shows off one of the works she will exhibit at the Beach Guild of Fine Art’s Small Paintings for Small Spaces show. Another is shown at left. The oil pastel drawings point in a different direction than her usual figurative work, such as the painting on the wall of her Upper Beach kitchen studio, above. PHOTO: Jon Muldoon

Painter branches out for Guild show
By Jon Muldoon • May 13, 2014 •
Lynda Freeman’s Upper Beach kitchen may seem like an ordinary kitchen at first glance, but it eventually becomes apparent that this humble room, with its huge table, easels stacked in one corner, three cats and one tireless little dog coming and going, and eastern wall composed mostly of window, is actually a hub of artistic energy.

Freeman is showing Beach Metro News the pieces she plans to exhibit in the Beach Guild of Fine Art’s Small Paintings for Small Spaces show – four floral pieces in oil pastel – in between rounds of throwing a rubber chew toy for a puppy. The floral works are a bit of a departure for her, something inspired by travelling light to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico recently, a town she visits occasionally and has taught art classes in.

Painter Lynda Freeman shows off one of the works she will exhibit at the Beach Guild of Fine Art’s Small Paintings for Small Spaces show. Another is shown at left. The oil pastel drawings point in a different direction than her usual figurative work, such as the painting on the wall of her Upper Beach kitchen studio, above. PHOTO: Jon Muldoon
Painter Lynda Freeman shows off one of the works she will exhibit at the Beach Guild of Fine Art’s Small Paintings for Small Spaces show. Another is shown below. The oil pastel drawings point in a different direction than her usual figurative work, such as the painting on the wall of her Upper Beach kitchen studio, above.
PHOTO: Jon Muldoon
She opted not to deal with the hassle of packing brushes, tubes of paint and canvas. “So I just took a box of oil pastels and some black paper,” she says.

Does she prefer to travel for artistic inspiration?

“I prefer to travel for all kinds of reasons,” she says with a smile.

While the oil pastels were a successful excursion, Freeman said she usually prefers to work in acrylics, usually at a much larger scale. She also tends to paint people rather than flora, fauna or landscapes.

“I actually like to do figurative work, but I like to do it in a more whimsical way,” she says, with a large painting involving several clowns on a beach hanging on the wall behind her.

Freeman trained first at New York’s Pratt Institute, before finishing her BA at York University. A retired elementary teacher, she can’t seem to kick the school bug – she teaches classes of up to five adult painting students two or three times a week in her kitchen/studio, a focus of artistic energy not just for her, but for eager learners.

“I like working with adults, they’re very motivated,” she says. “I also learn a lot, technically, by teaching.”

Students gather in the kitchen, set up their equipment, turn on the radio, put on the kettle and get to work, with that wall of light coming in the whole time.

Freeman counts among her many influences the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – “I loved what he did with line” – and Gustav Klimt – “He had a very decorative style. I love aspects of design in painting.”

She’s also taken inspiration from the current Francis Bacon/Henry Moore exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, though she is the first to admit she has a weakness for art museums in general.

“In every city I visit, I hit the ground running towards their art museums,” she says.

Freeman hasn’t always been only a painter. At one point she was working with clay, making masks.

“Craft is not on a lower level of creativity than art to me,” she says.

guild art-lynda freeman drawing
Lynda Freeman
At one point, that work earned her an invitation to Japan, as part of a group of 10 international artists contributing designs to a series of plates. Artists were hosted by local families, and Freeman has fond memories of attempting to talk with a family that spoke no English, matched with her total lack of Japanese.

“We communicated through two dictionaries,” she says with a laugh.

Freeman will have four works featured at the Small Paintings for Small Spaces show, which runs from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 23, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25 at the Gardener’s Cottage near the foot of Kew Gardens on Lee Avenue.

The show features about 140 paintings by more than 35 artists from the Guild (beachguildoffineart.com), with all work priced under $350. Admission is free, and there will be a draw for a gift basket. Freeman will be painting on location on the boardwalk from noon to 2:30 p.m. on the Saturday, weather permitting.

Freeman is also a member of the Don Valley Art Club, which has a show at the Papermill Gallery at Todmorden Mills, at the bottom of Pottery Road, until May 18.

(posted on 29 Oct 2013)

Nice coverage of our fall show by Snap

http://www.snapbeaches.com/index.php?option=com_sngevents&id%5B0%5D=581353#.Uln2WoIxqDg.facebook

Painter part of Guild annual showcase: Art Down by the Bay

By Bill MacLean, September 13th, 2012

When the software company she worked for during the tech boom was bought out eight years ago, Grethe Jensen decided that it was a good “opportunity to see what I wanted to do next.”

“I tried different art forms,” she said. “But I decided that I really wanted to play with colour. Colour is what fascinates me, and the best way to play with colour is to paint.”

Grethe Jensen is one of the artists that will be featured at the Beach Guild of Fine Art’s annual Down By The Bay exhibition, Sept. 21 to 23. PHOTO: Phil Lameira / Beach Metro News

Asked if during her work in the corporate world she dabbled in art, Jensen recalled that she had always been a hands-on person, working with crafts, sewing clothes, or doll making, even a period of getting hooked on ceramics and pottery-making. “But,” she said, “I decided to wait until I could do it properly.”

Jensen was living in Markham at the time of her artistic awakening, and thought it might be better to be closer to where the proverbial action was. She explored various neighbourhoods in Toronto, looking for a suitable home that would also act as a studio space. “It [the studio] had to be above ground…with natural light.”

She found the perfect place on Blantyre, and has lived there for the past four years. Her home is a compact semi with an interior that has been transformed so that what was once a large bedroom at the rear of the house, is now her bright studio space. The floor in this space is covered with a protective vinyl matting to absorb paint drippings, the large south-facing window is draped with a white sheet which softens the bright natural sunlight. Several half-finished canvases are scattered about the room, and one on the easel bears a strong resemblance to the artist herself. She admits to experimenting with a self-portrait, and points to the mirror on the opposite wall.

Some of Jensen's most striking works involve portraits of a sort. They are larger-than-life, brightly coloured acrylics (her sole medium) that are so impressionistic as to almost be abstract. You sometimes have to look twice to find the face in the piece.

“I start with a live model to get at the piece's core structure,” she said. Then she will set the canvas aside for awhile and work on another. “I need to establish a communication between myself and the canvas.

“I don't think it is necessary that a painting tell a complete story,” she said. “I think the viewer tends to establish their own conversation with the work. If I show a piece to five people, and they respond in the same way, then I'm telling too much. I'd rather get five different responses.”

She illustrated her point with one of her popular paintings of Toronto streetcars. The viewer cannot see the route number or name clearly, the lighting is dark and the background is hazy, so that it’s unclear where in the city the street car is. There are no recognizable landmarks – storefronts, street signs, nothing.

“I've only had one person who actually knew where the painting was from,” Jensen said.

One of the things that drew Jensen to this area was the number of artists who live here. She spent three years on the waiting list before joining the Beach Guild of Fine Arts, and has, along with fellow artists Felicity Somerset and Callie Gray, formed LuminArt, a smaller collective of East End artists. She also holds life-drawing sessions in her home studio every Thursday. There's a live model, and two three-hour sessions; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

“Life drawing is like going to the gym for artists,” Jensen says. “And for me it's a way to participate in the local arts community.”

Jensen will be part of the Beach Guild of Fine Arts’ annual Art Down by the Bay exhibition, Sept. 21 to 23, at the Beaches Lions clubhouse at the foot of Coxwell. This year marks the 18th anniversary of this popular fall art show and sale. More than 40 artists will be showcased in two exhibition halls. The upstairs space will be full of large, original works of art. Many of the artists will be on hand to chat. The downstairs space is devoted to smaller originals (usually unframed), prints, gift cards and the like. This is a great place to buy gifts, or begin a collection of works by Beach artists.

Art

The Beach Guild of Fine Art will be holding the 17th annual Art Down by the Bay Show and Sale Sept. 24 and 25, at the Beaches Lions’ Club on Ashbridges Bay (foot of Coxwell). This is the popular fall show by the guild showcasing the work of more than 40 of its members. New this year, the show will feature a special abstract and contemporary gallery.

Along with the many examples of original art work, the Down by the Bay show features a gift card and boutique shop on the main floor of the clubhouse. Here you can purchase small original works as well as prints, and gift cards. There will be a lucky draw – usually of a group painting – and refreshments. Admission is free, and the show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. For more information visit www.beachguildoffineart.com.

Joyce Nelson inhabits the perfect Beach artist’s garret. It’s a small studio/apartment with an enormous outdoor deck on the second floor above a store on Queen Street near Woodbine. It faces south so she gets plenty of sunlight all year, and it overlooks the street in such a way that she can people watch through the trees.

“And Dufflet’s is right across the street!,” she says. Nelson is a member of the Beach Guild of Fine Art and will be participating in this year’s Down by the Bay Show and Sale. Nelson paints large abstract acrylics, and is excited by this year’s Down by the Bay show since there will be a special abstract and contemporary gallery as part of the exhibition.

Nelson is originally from the United States, but came to Canada – Kingston to be specific – back in the 1970s. She lived in another part of Toronto from 1976 through to 1990 before moving out to British Columbia. It was while out west that she became interested in art, studying watercolour technique at a school there.

“The teacher said I showed some promise,” she said. “He really encouraged me.” When she came back to Toronto a friend told her about the art program at Central Tech High School. “It was a full time, three-year program for adults, from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] daily. And it was free! It was a terrific program for getting the basics in place.” While at Central Tech she majored in sculpture, and still has a few around her studio.

Nelson moved into the Beach in 2004, and discovered the Beach Guild of Fine Art while attending one of the spring shows at Kew (Gardener’s) Cottage in 2005.

“There are some really great people in the Guild,” Nelson said. “It’s such a great community.” Since joining the Guild she has participated in three of its exhibitions, as well as about 20 other group and solo shows locally.

While sipping herb tea and eating Dufflet’s cookies on her deck, we took the time to talk about the creative process. Nelson’s studio apartment is very tiny so I asked her where she painted her large canvases.

“I move the furniture out of the room and roll up the rug,” she said. “It’s part of my ritual of starting and ending.” Nelson’s early artistic expression was landscape painting, and she says that even now, “I fight the tendency to turn everything into landscapes.” But her current work is anything but landscape-like. “I enjoy playing with colour and texture,” she says. And the bold colours, vivid shapes, large canvases that dominate the walls of her studio space are a testament to that play.

Nelson is also an accomplished figure drawer who keeps her talents in that medium sharp by regularly attending the Toronto School of Art, where she can drop in and sketch the models without someone peering over her shoulder in judgment. She’d like to be able to combine the two styles. “I’d like to find a way to marry fine drawing with my abstract work,” she says.

At university, before turning to art, Nelson majored in English and became a writer who now specializes in environmental writing for such publications as the Watershed Sentinel, The Internationalist, and The Monitor, a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Shifting gears between the two disciplines is not difficult for Nelson.

“When I’m tired of being in my left brain hemisphere,” she says, “I try to make the leap over to my right hemisphere.”

Painting, for Nelson is almost a Zen experience. “Often I don’t know where I’m going when I start a work,” she says. “But doing the work helps keep me in the moment. I find, though, I sometimes have to get out of the way.” I tell her, I completely understand what she is saying, that I have heard similar thoughts from other artists. I ask if she finds painting a struggle; is she a tortured artist?

Nelson smiles and says, “Painting is total pleasure... and total play!”

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