Looking for Muskoka
Photography by Sandy McLennan
November 19 - December 16
Public Reception: Saturday, November 19, 1pm-4pm

Sandy McLennan was not born in Muskoka, but does being a resident for thirty years make him a local?

Sandy reflects on his relationship with the place, the myth and the question of Muskoka in a multidisciplinary art exhibit, titled Looking for Muskoka. The work consists of Sandy’s photography, installations, audio and motion pictures.  

With “Muskoka” as a metaphor for constant change, shifting identity and unknown destination, Sandy’s time and place context stretches from being a young guest at cottages in the 1970s – introduced to the splendour of lakes and shores and seductive buildings sheltering iconic social scenes – to being a long-time dweller wondering where the magic still resides.  

Working as an employee in Toronto in the early Eighties, Sandy was making the weekend trip north to the cottage, picking different routes and times of day to try and avoid the traffic. That was a time of opportunity for young people and it was a straightforward decision to leave the city and move to cottage country. Since then, he has lived in town and country, and seen most of the District while working in every one of the public schools, as a videographer in homes, cottages and businesses, and most recently while working on the census. This exhibit displays Sandy’s current impressions, somewhere between visiting and inhabiting a place, both physically and spiritually.  

Looking for Muskoka considers the longing for a place of peace, adventure and contentment somewhere out there. In the exhibit, viewers will see Muskoka as advertised and as currently documented using images and objects. Sandy employs the term docu-drama to describe his work: “There is more than enough drama in what we see and experience every day. Most of the time we drive on by. This exhibit is a still-life, a chance to stop and see; but only for the moment. Already, some of the things I’ve photographed in the last months are gone. What’s next?”  

With cameras in hand, Sandy journeyed about Muskoka acquiring views on a variety of media, including 35mm black & white negatives and colour slides, double 8mm and super 8 motion pictures, digital stills and video (old family movies and snapshots also appear in the show).

The old AV guy was joyous to get his hands on well-worn favourite tools and be back in the darkroom again. “I’m lucky to have kept some of my old camera and darkroom equipment, and that it still works! I’ve since rented or added to my kit of cameras and projectors that date back to the 50s. Using old apparatus to make current images is the right fit for this show.”  

Sandy says The Chapel Gallery fits precisely in this procession. It, too, has migrated. “The church was a place to gather and be together, perhaps strengthen our convictions, and the art gallery is a place to gather our thoughts in an age of smaller community and less conviction, and then take those thoughts on in to the brave new world.”  

Not a cottager; maybe a local, or not, Sandy defines his role in Looking for Muskoka as: observer.  

Sandy McLennan thanks The Ontario Arts Council and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto for their assistance with this exhibit.  

At the opening reception on Saturday, November 19, Sandy will be screening one of his films at 3pm. throughout the exhibition, screenings will take place on November 26, December 3 and 10 at 3pm.

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Located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge, the gallery is open year-round, Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm. It is closed during the last week of September and the second week of October as well as between Christmas and New Year’s Days. Please check the Calendar of Events for the actual dates. For a map, please follow this link.

Exhibitions are booked one year in advance.  To learn how to apply for a show, please follow this link: Exhibition Application.

The Chapel Gallery was opened in September, 1989. Housed in a reconstruction of the first Presbyterian Church in Bracebridge, the Chapel Gallery hosts exhibitions of art and craft by our members and other local and provincial artists. Exhibitions are selected by the Gallery Committee and change every three to four weeks.

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Muskoka Arts & Crafts Inc. is located in the District Municipality of  Muskoka, Ontario, Canada.