Friday, July 12, 2024
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Quyon native Ryan Hobbs animates artPontiac discussion

by Glen Hartle
Shawville
Apr. 27, 2024
Local arts association artPontiac hosted a series of artists’ talks at Shawville’s Café 349 on Saturday for its second annual professional development day.
The event, titled “Creativity Unleashed 2024: A Primer for Artists” and organized by artPontiac member and artist Katharine Fletcher, was well-attended by a cross section of community members, with participants from Ottawa to Pembroke spanning from their teen years into their 70s.
Several members of the artPontiac board of directors were on hand including association president Stephanie Pete, who opened the session with brief introductions before handing over the reins to keynote speaker Ryan Hobbs.
Hobbs, born and raised in the Pontiac, was slated to talk about lessons learned from his years spent in the animation industry, and brought much more. His hour-long presentation was as animated as his profession and he had attendees engaged for its entire duration.
Many of Hobbs’ insights, while inspired by his career in animation, could easily have been delivered as part of a commencement speech for a graduating class of artists, offering inspiration to believe in themselves and encouragement that the world is full of possibilities for them.
Hobbs’ time at the podium discussing the specifics of animation was augmented with an emotional intelligence tempered with great humility and humour. “Artists are sensitive creatures,” he said, “and we need to encourage them.”
“I am not an animator-whisperer,” Hobbs said, jokingly alluding to the well-known 1998 Robert Redford film, The Horse Whisperer, while speaking of his role as a team lead.
“But mental health is a concern with artists and we need meaningful communication. Burnout is real and small talk is important. Be gentle with yourself.”
In attendance for Hobbs’ presentation was his now-retired art teacher from Pontiac High School, Carol Bretzloff-Holmes, who beamed at her former student. Hobbs’ articulation and charisma prompted MRC Pontiac warden and attendee Jane Toller to ask, “Do you give this talk often?”
Hobbs’ response of “Never – this is the first time,” prompted compliments from Toller, no stranger to the merit of oratory.
Following Hobbs were three additional speakers. First up was Ottawa-born ceramic artist Paula Murray who, through sharing stories from her decades-long career, showcased her achievements both nationally and internationally and offered attendees a window into what is possible if you pursue the life of an artist.
“Do not underestimate the value of networking,” she emphasized, while drawing reference to the many opportunities she has enjoyed thanks to her own networking.
Next up was Carleton Place gallery owner and painter Pamela Stewart. In her talk titled “Become the Easiest Artist to Deal with … Ever!” she shared advice on everything artists should consider when applying to a gallery for representation.
“Be authentic,” she encouraged. “Do your research and learn from others but cultivate your identity.”
Stewart demystified the process she goes through in evaluating applications for representation, and in so doing, offered an artist’s cheat sheet to be used in getting them from contact to contract, and from elevator pitch to opening day.
Rounding out the day was artPontiac treasurer Bryan Chen. Drawing on his extensive background in digital media, Chen offered a crash course in how to use social media platform Instagram as an artist. He spoke about everything from the benefits the platform can offer to how to create content for Instagram.
“Show your personality and update it regularly,” advised Chen.
The venue for the all-day affair was Shawville’s Café 349 where owner Ruth Hahn made available bottomless coffee and tea urns, endless mini-muffin trays, and a full menu offering for lunch and mid-afternoon snack.
Association president Stephanie Pete said the group is already looking ahead to next year’s event.
“Katharine will continue to curate the event and has already begun building a members working group to support this event for its third year in 2025,” Pete said. “It is very important for artists and arts workers to gather and share skills and stories. We’re proud of this event, and of all of the work our artists are doing.”

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