Since 1996, the Huntsville Festival of the Arts (HFA) has been selecting a local artist to create a unique piece of art for the cover of the Festival’s annual summer program.
This year’s Festival Artisan is local woodcarver, Don MacKenzie.
“We are thrilled to share Don’s beautiful carving which will grace the front page of our Summer Program,” the HFA wrote on its website. “This is a remarkable piece for many different reasons. One is for Don’s impeccable artistic vision and skill. The second is for his commitment to work (147 hours and 15 minutes went into creating it). Lastly is his determination. Don has Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia. To accomplish this work, Don drew on his long-term memory banks and the carving skills he has been perfecting over his life span.”
MacKenzie was asked in January if he would be willing to create the 2020 image. He shared the details of his creation on the HFA website:
“As it happens, January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and I have Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia; fresh new thoughts are not always easy for me to formulate. But, when given an idea that is within my long-term memory banks, I am able to accomplish many things.
“Typically, in my wood carvings, I recreate wild birds in their natural habitat as well as leaves and feathers—the leaves of fall became my theme. The undulation of the musical notes is reminiscent of the sound of the leaves as they are blown about by the fall winds. The leaves are a music unto themselves as they dance through the air with complete abandonment.
“The musical score with the leaves as notes was Pam’s idea, but, as memory kicked in, the leaves and acorns just seemed to flesh out the space.The lifelong thrill of nature is deep in my memory banks and allows me to recreate the magic I feel when walking through the forest.
“There is a child-like dance to leaves as they are blown about, and a deep serenity of beauty while they are still on the trees; it is a stunning tapestry when seen from a distance. This beauty is what brings droves of visitors to Muskoka every fall. It is a beauty that must be seen time and again.
“The Festival of the Arts brings us music and dance that allows us to not only enjoy the moment but, also, to dream of possibilities, if only we tried. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to show you that we should never give up on our dreams…and that we should take every opportunity to dance like leaves in the wind.”
Although performances scheduled for the near future had to be postponed, Huntsville Festival of the Arts is busy planning for the summer season, said HFA executive director, Dan Watson. The full line-up will be announced in the coming weeks. Watch for details at huntsvillefestival.ca.
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