Art for Lunch continues to grow, attracting a wide variety of people to increasingly diverse programming.

The series began, five years ago, as a way of creating interest in exhibitions at MacLaren Art Centre and that continues but it grew well beyond, to include a wide variety of topics, many arts-related.

“We take a look at exhibition programming for the year (and) if there are things related to exhibitions, those are the first ones we book,” said curator Emily McKibbon. “Often we take a look at other things that are happening, people who have been recommended to us.”

While most of the Art for Lunch series is relevant to Barrie, topics of interest also extend beyond the city. One, centring on an Orillia artist, Author Shilling, drew a standing room only crowd. Earlier this spring, an author was featured for the first time, Midland native,  Kevin Hardcastle, who incorporates aspects of his experiences in Simcoe County as well as time spent living in Saskatchewan into his writing. His most recent book is called In the Cage (Biblioasis, 2017).

At an artist’s talk on Sept. 19, Andrea Fatona will speak about an exhibition she curated called Settling in Place. Currently on display at the gallery, it looks at some of the diverse histories in the region, makes reference to a number of Black settlers in southern Ontario and was inspired, in part, by the restoration of the Oro African Methodist church and the diaries of Mary O’Brien, one of Shanty Bay’s first settlers. The exhibition features three artists – Aylan Couchie, Martha Griffith, and Charmaine Lurch.

“It’s a really fascinating show, really grounded in archeology, bringing it to life and making it visible,” said McKibbon.

Artists’ books are the subject of Maxine Proctor’s talk on Sept. 28. The director and co-founder of the Toronto Art Book Fair will explore the marginalized art form.

“It’s a very different art form than the typical work you see in galleries,” said McKibbon. “It’s kind of a fluid way of working and artists tend to have a lot of fun with that, playing with the format of the books. Some are traditional but others barely look like books. They often want to make the books themselves.”

A display at the community gallery currently has a small selection of artists’ books, from the permanent collection. Proctor is also expected to bring some examples with her.

The month of October features Paul Petro, director and founder of Paul Petro Contemporary Art, a Toronto gallery, discussing how to build a contemporary art collection.

The fall wraps with Denise Smith, a practicing visual artist who also manages the gallery shop. She will be speaking about her work as a ceramics sculptor. Her subject matter encompasses animals and landscapes.

All of it is free of charge, but lunch purchases are extra. Visit for more details.

Photo: Curator Andrea Fatona will speak about an exhibition she curated called Settling in Place, Sept. 19, at MacLaren Art Centre. She is pictured here with the artists, left to right, Aylan Couchie, Charmaine Lurch, Andrea Fatona and Martha Griffith. Andre Beneteau photo

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