Art lovers flock to Pumphouse as outdoor spectacle returns
For two years, the canvas was blank. But this weekend saw Art’s colorful return to the Pumphouse.
The outdoor art exhibit was back at the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Center with some new additions, bringing together the work of over 50 artists for a combined indoor/outdoor and virtual exhibition.
For event organizer Sandra Stokes, the sight of art lovers strolling the grounds once again filled her palette.
“Everyone is really happy, we had a really good turnout,” she said as the show entered its second day on Sunday. “I think we had over 500 yesterday.”
Since its inception in 2006, the show has been the Pumphouse’s largest annual fundraiser. This year, to help make up for the two years lost to the pandemic, a $5 admission was introduced.
Stokes said the money will go towards programming and funding future events.
The jury exhibit included original paintings, photographs, jewelry, woodwork and sculpture. The performers operated in tents outside on the extensive Pumphouse grounds. More artworks (three pieces per artist) were on the walls of the inner gallery. There is also an online component that continues until August 7th.
“We had good steady traffic yesterday and expect more today,” said Amy Klassen, director of fundraising and marketing for Pumphouse. “Everyone’s just in a good mood.”
Before the pandemic, the show was so big that it spanned land across the street behind Fort George. Klassen said 80 artists participated in the 2019 exhibit, making it one of Niagara’s largest art exhibits.
“We want to slowly rebuild it,” she said. “We are repositioning the show and trying to rebrand it in future shows to come. I hope there will be no more cancellations!
Port Colborne artist Cathy Peters said while she was still painting during COVID she “didn’t have the motivation”. The return to the Pumphouse show helped the rebound.
“People are happy to see art and buy it from the artist,” she said. “There is this connection. It is incomparable.
“To see the smiles on their face when they see a piece of art…you don’t get that online.”
Located on Ricardo Street near the Niagara River, the gallery stands on the site of a municipal waterworks built in 1891, which supplied Niagara-on-the-Lake with water from the Niagara River until 1983. It was purchased by the city in 1985 and designated a historic property by council a year later.