Owl show takes flight

 In Events

Whoo wants to be part of a community art show?

Well, anyone can be during the Creemore Festival of the Art Owl Show, hosted by Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society at Station on the Green the first weekend of October during Clearview’s Small Halls Festival.

The idea, which is to provide hand carved owls ready for the decorating to those interested, came to Jim Harkness when he went to see a wooden owl in the collection of Cyndy Reycraft.

“There was this Cape Breton folk owl, I thought it was sort of goofy looking, but genuine, naïve,” said Harkness, who is well known for his work as a professional and enthusiastic carver of birds. He was taken with this simple design and decided to replicate the owl – which he has now done 42 times.

To do this he pulled odd planks from his lumber supply. Using poplar, basswood, butternut and antique pine he rough cut and shaped the wood on a band saw, then carved with a file before sanding. He made wooden eyes for each, departing somewhat from the simple dowel eyes of the original Cape Breton owl. David Bruce Johnson added a bit of facial and body detail with wood gouges. Each owl has a substantial base made from chunks of wood which doweling legs are affixed to.

“Nature artists always say they do it because they have a love of nature, but I do have this one-on-one relationship with owls.” said Harkness.

He recounts the first time he wanted to share the beauty of an owl. As a child, before current understanding and law prevented people from keeping wildlife as pets, Harkness found and raised a great horned owl. He has a vivid recollection of watching kids ride by on their bicycles, baseball gloves hanging from their handle bars, and wondering if he should invite them in to see the magnificent creature he would later release.

The location of the Harkness home on the 9th Concession of Sunnidale is a perfect place for a lover of owls. He says it is somewhat of a hot spot, or a cold spot depending on the season, for sighting of owls and there are rumours of Japanese tourists coming to the rural road in hopes of spotting a bird.

Based on these anecdotes he feels it may be the right time to have what he calls an owl extravaganza. The folk owls, a number of which will be submitted by artists participating in the annual Artists on Locations portion of the Creemore Festival of the Arts, will be on display as part of a larger owl show. This show will include works from local collections and those created by professional artists as well as images and speakers, all related to the nocturnal birds of prey. The folk owls will be available for sale with all proceeds going to the Purple Hills Arts and Heritage Society to fund the Festival.

Those wishing to participate in the show can purchase a blank owl measuring about one foot high. A limited number are available on a first-come, first-served basis for $25 at the Creemore Echo or when Harkness visits the Creemore Farmers’ Market, on dates yet to be determined. Participants are required to submit their finished piece by September 25. For more information contact Jim Harkness at 705-428-0957, [email protected] or online at phahs.ca.

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