For 11 years now, the artisans of Arden have been welcoming the public to their galleries for one Saturday in July. There are door prizes, a blueberry tea event and of course they make sales but that’s not really why they do it.
“It’s nice to meet with people and chat with them,” said Judith Versavel who’s been operating her Gallery By The Bay on Big Clear Lake since 2005.
Versavel had a long career in more commercial art, working as a graphic designer for contracts with Bell Canada, Colgate Palmolive and Simpson’s.
In 1976 she moved back to the Kingston area and worked at Harrowsmith magazine and later Equinox.
But painting was always her first love and although her one-of-a-kind jewelry items have a considerable following, it is her vibrant acrylics and watercolors that she’ll be best remembered for — that and encouraging other artists in the area to exhibit at her gallery.
One of those artists is Aileen Merriam, who, although she’s had her work on display at Versavel’s gallery, joined the Garden Party for the first time this year, along with Arden area painter John DuChene.
“Yes, this is my first year being considered an ‘Arden Artisan,’” she said. “I’ve painted for 50 years and started out doing scientific illustrations.
“I owe the fact that I’m doing work now to Judy.”
Merriam agreed that meeting people and “chatting with them” is a big attraction to joining the show.
“This is our 20th year in the Arden area and it’s nice to finally meet some of these people,” she said.
The Garden Party and Open Studio Event also featured works at Arden Pottery with Joanne Pickett and Arlene Uens, Sarah Hale’s batiks at Arden Batik and Gordon Wright’s paintings at Gordon Wright Fine Art on Blue Heron Ridge.