Founding members exhibit their works at the art gallery in August, celebrating their 20th birthday


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The Victoria Park Gallery opened its doors 20 years ago in August 2001. To honor this milestone, the guest gallery exhibits the works of the only two remaining founding members who are still involved in the gallery, Sylvia Melinz and Jana Mika, for August.


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When the gallery opened, then-mayor Larry Kramer approached local woodturner Ken Goldspink and Visual Arts Kincardine with an offer of the Old Council Chamber, the current arts building, for a gallery space. At the time, Kincardine Visual Arts was over 20 years old. Its members were interested in making art, organizing trips to galleries as well as hosting studio artists from out of town. Bev Meidow, then Kincardine’s visual arts president, was the driving force behind the creation of the Victoria Park galley, both physically and organizationally. Meidow was president of the gallery until she left Kincardine.

While many members have moved, retired or died, Mika and Melinz continue to volunteer their time. There were over 20 founding members, including Jane Rigby, Jane Prenger, Malcolm MacDonald, Sandra MacDonald and Yvonne Dyer. The gallery is a cooperative and its staff is made up of members. Members also participate in various committees. They have an elected executive. The commission levied on art sales covers the running costs of the gallery. Members pride themselves on showcasing original paintings, pottery, jewelry, photos and more, all produced by local artists and artisans. The monthly work of the guest artist is also presented in the guest gallery space.

Sylvia Melinz holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Windsor and has taught art at the high school level.


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“We moved to Kincardine 40 years ago in August and I joined Kincardine Visual Arts almost immediately,” she said. “Since then, I have been part of the Kincardine Arts community. “

Melinz was a founding member of the Napanee Co-operative Gallery before moving to Kincardine and also becoming a founding member of the Victoria Park Gallery.

Artisans Alley in London has exhibited and sold his paintings since 1987.

“I am continually inspired by my visual environment and art continues to appeal to me and demands that I express myself visually,” she concluded.

Jana Mika was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She immigrated to Canada in 1968. She lived in Calgary, Alberta and Deep River, Ontario, and moved to Kincardine in 1984.

Mika’s medium is clay. She works with porcelain stoneware but also earthenware, both functional and sculptural pieces. In her unique pieces, she wants to reflect her love for the surrounding nature, her garden and the nearby Lake Huron. When Mika creates a piece, she works her feelings in clay, much like a canvas painter with a brush, hoping that the original idea will come out exactly as she wanted it to. There is a long waiting period between the sketch on paper and the finishing of the piece. Its process is the soft clay, the drying period, the bisque firing at lower temperatures, the glazing and finally the second firing carried out in high firing glazes. Mika says she enjoys transforming soft clay into eternal rock.

In 1972, Mika joined the Deep River Pottery Guild after moving from Calgary, where she practiced her profession. She learned from other Guild members and visiting master potters. She has also taken courses organized by the Fusion Ontario Clay and Glass Association to which she still belongs, participating in workshops and conferences. Mika was one of the founding members of Visual Arts Kincardine, which was replaced after ten years by Victoria Park Gallery. She volunteered at public schools, experimenting with children and clay, and led pottery classes with adults.


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Mika learned clay in college in modeling classes as part of the dental technician training program. Plaster, wax, porcelain and gold working skills were essential ten years later after immigrating to Canada, where she began her second career as a potter. She has exhibited annually in juryed exhibitions at the Thompson Gallery in Owen Sound as well as the Fusion Exhibition in Toronto, the Fireworks in Ottawa, the Traveling Fireworks Exhibition in Hamilton and the biennial jury exhibition at the London Clay Art Center.

Anyone interested in becoming a member or being a guest artist is encouraged to visit the gallery during its temporarily reduced hours of 12-4 or call 519-396-6699. The gallery is also on Facebook, Victoria Park Gallery & Gift Shop and can be emailed to [email protected]

“We appreciate the support we have received from the city and our visitors to the gallery,” the couple said.

One of Jana Mika's pieces on display, this one titled
One of Jana Mika’s pieces on display, this one called “Leaving Home”. Hannah MacLeod / Kincardine News
Another piece by Jana Mika, this one called
Another piece by Jana Mika, this one called “Cycle of Blues”. The attached poem reads: Basking in the sun, balancing on the dungeon hole, Wrong message touches your brain, Falling down, For the bravest I built a ladder, Made of hope. Hannah MacLeod / Kincardine News



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