Ellen Soloy is a lucky woman. Why? Because she grew up with parents who never limited her horizons, who listened to her dreams and said ‘when?’
So, when she moved to Barrie last year to accommodate her husband’s work, it felt like the right time to put her life long dream into action.
Funny thing happens when you do this… the universe opens and makes everything possible.
Ellen’s dream? To open an art gallery showcasing original art in all media… paintings, sculpture, jewellery, textile. And Friday night, at 953 Ridge Road, past Shanty Bay but not quite to Oro Station, Ridge West Gallery opened its doors. Nestled into a sunlit room, anchored by a fireplace, Ellen Soloy designed space to display 38 pieces of jewellery by Liz Kobelka; 25 oil paintings by Amanda Greavette, and five fabulous steel sculptures by Derek Green. Imagine a Great Blue Heron in full flight! Imagine a gymnast in full stretch. Derek’s remarkable sculpture was accompanied by absolutely thrilling oil paintings of babies, young women, soft family moments, landscapes.
And so, Ellen spent months getting her property, its opening, its parking area, ready to throw open the doors to her new world. Her husband, Gord, is a wizard at woodworking and simple plinths hold elegant pieces for display. Gord has carefully sculpted space in Ellen’s new gallery and with 60 people attending Friday’s opening, it’s now been through its test.
Ellen says that before 6 pm Friday, with caterer Jackie Fowler’s Edible Affairs anchoring the kitchen, her main emotion was nervousness. Ellen had distributed her signature rack cards all over Shanty Bay, Barrie, Horseshoe Valley. She’d arranged for news releases to go out. She’d sent announcements to her business group. But, would anybody come?
And then the cars pulled up. And people came in. And they were gracious and positive and Ellen knew she’d made the right decision.
She has, indeed. At her official opening she applied red ‘sold’ dots to 20 pieces of jewellery, 5 pieces of art and one sculpture! And she plans to feature a different artist every month. While Amanda Greavette’s work is on display for the month of October, Ellen has already lined up watercolours and acrylics artist Elke Scholz from Bracebridge for Novembeer.
What started this passion and interest? Camelot, with Richard Burton was Ellen’s first exposure to art as her mother took her to see this special production. And then she bought her first painting as a young woman. She fell in love with an oil painting by Bruno Cavallo, contemporary of the Group of Seven, and the man who eulogized A.Y. Jackson. “I had to pay over a period of time for this painting, but it launched me into my love of art and I still hang it in a place of honour,” she says. “I don’t have a lot of art but everything I have I cherish and it has a story.”
Ridge West will be a destination gallery, a place where people can gear down on their way home from work, or from a visit to the hospital or to ailing parents. Ellen is putting into this little oasis so much of what she learned managing galleries in Sudbury and Barrie.
She’s thrilled that she’ll be able to showcase emerging Canadian artists and play a role for someone who falls in love with a piece and begins a lifelong relationship with art through Ridge West.
Ridge West, 953 Ridge Rd, Shanty Bay, 705 487-8778, www.ridgewest.ca
open Wednesdays-Saturdays, 10 am – 5 pm, or by appointment