A group of local artists have come together to publish a book that pays homage to the heritage building they call their creative home.
Tremont Studios: Art & History is a sleek and colourful 128-page book that chronicles the rich history of the Tremont and its present-day restoration as an artistic hub and home to 12 artists.
The project began in the depths of the pandemic and has emerged as a way to not only honour the building, but for the artists to leave a legacy behind as well.
The Tremont House, a monumental building located on the corner of Simcoe Street and St. Paul, dates back to 1889. The building is one of the last remaining 19th-century hotel buildings in the Collingwood Downtown Heritage Conservation District. Operating as a hotel for over 100 years, the Tremont still carries its original name and is an historical link to Collingwood’s shipbuilding era.
The building now houses 10 working artists in individual studios who create a diverse and stunning variety of art.
“To have a whole building that is dedicated to artists and what they are doing is pretty special,” said Kara McIntosh, an artist in residence and one of the 12 local artists featured in the book.
McIntosh is a painter and fibre artist and has had her studio on the second floor of the Tremont for more than three years.
“Having a studio outside of my home and having a place of my own where other creative people are around, and being a part of this community, has really helped my practice take off,” said McIntosh. “I am certain it has helped me move forward in a constructive and positive way as an artist.”
COVID-19 rapidly changed the way that everyone — including artists — conducted their work. While some of the residents were still coming into their studio to create, it was a “scattering time,” for those in the building, said McIntosh.
One of the Tremont’s artists in residence, Bill Franks, suggested the idea for the book as a project all of the artists could all work on together during such a trying time. The idea evolved to include historic aspects of the Tremont and its restoration, and share the journeys of the artists who find inspiration within its walls.
Knowing that Curiosity House Books has a mandate to publish local stories and local authors, McIntosh reached out to Rina Barone, who co-owns the bookstore with her husband, Christopher Dunk, for advice and guidance.
“Telling our stories and the stories of our community is very important because it helps to keep these places and these people alive,” said Barone.
The book showcases the unique and varied artwork in full-colour spreads of the Tremont's talented studio artists: John Wallace Burton, Jane Fleetwood-Morrow, Bill Franks, Lisa Hannaford, Kaz Jones, Anke Lex, Kara McIntosh, Andrew Peycha, Patricia Russell, Jim Stacey, Bryan Wall, and Jenn Wilkins.
“Because you’re working with artists, there were a lot of opinions, especially with respect to visual presentation,” laughed McIntosh. “There were some hashing out moments but I think, all in all, we are super proud of how it turned out.”
Barone served as the editor and organizer to coordinate all of the artist's perspectives, so it was a no-brainer for Curiosity House Books to co-publish the book with Tremont Heritage Properties when the opportunity arose.
“It was a labour of love for everybody involved, and it was very collaborative, so it was easy to put the pieces together,” said Barone.
The book was made possible by a number of generous patrons from the Southern Georgian Bay area.
Books will be available starting Dec. 1 at Tremont Studios and Curiosity House Books for $40 each, with an official launch taking place at the Tremont on Dec. 2 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Any profits will be funnelled back into the creative community, said McIntosh.
“I think that all of us who have studios here consider ourselves fortunate to call this our creative home. Not only because of its history, but what goes on inside of this beautiful building, is really special,” said McIntosh.
“It’s so important to keep our arts and culture alive,” said Barone. “We’re proud of it and we hope the community responds.”Pre-orders can be made through www.curiosityhousebooks.com.