Whether on childhood trips to his family’s cottage, or painting en plein air around the County as a seasoned artist, Byron Hodgins often found inspiration in the Highlands.

“Every time you go up, you leave a bit of yourself there,” said Hodgins, who now lives in Ottawa.

This summer, he’s opening a new permanent gallery in the sprawling main floor of Haliburton village’s Lucas House.

The rotating exhibition will showcase work from accomplished contemporary painters from across the province.

“I really want artists to come up and experience Haliburton, and bring their work up, and see their work in that context,” Hodgins said.

The gallery is owned by Simon Payn and Bram Lebo. Payn is publisher of The Highlander.

After coordinating with Lebo and Payn, Hodgins curated a test show in 2020. His work weaves his own psyche between Haliburton County’s lakes, rivers, forest tracts and settlements.

“I’m painting a meeting point between myself and the landscape,” he said.

Now, he’s inviting four other initial artists to show their work alongside his throughout 2021.

Margaret Glew, Julie Himel, Scott Sawtell and Shannon Dickie will hang their paintings in the rooms and hallways of the Victorian-era building across from the A.J. LaRue Arena.

“I liked what Byron was doing – in putting a gallery of contemporary and abstract work in a place that hasn’t had that before,” Glew said.

Glew is a widely-celebrated textile, painting and sculpture artist. Her work has been featured in more than 20 solo exhibitions and been shown in galleries from Kelowna to New York City.

The Corner Gallery offers contemporary artists an unusual space to show their work, Glew said.

“I like the contrast between the old and the contemporary – the grilled work, the places for candles; it’s a beautiful room.”

Hodgins said he’s excited for people to experience strikingly modern paintings in a building with such history.

“Most galleries are a bit of a white cube – you just see the art only,” he said. Lucas House, a downtown landmark, is a meandering collection of rooms and corridors not typically associated with vibrant contemporary paintings.

“This space is a bit different. You hear the creaky floors – you see the wood molding. You know, this room was a dining room at one time, you know that that room was the proprietor’s office,” said Hodgins.

Lucas House is also home to The Highlander and Lebo Law.

Glew’s show, Slow Time, is set to open June 12. Throughout the summer, Hodgins said each artist might even be able to do an artist talk through Zoom.

Himel, Sawtell, Dickie and Hodgins will display shows throughout the summer and fall.

While each brings a different style and subject matter to the gallery – Dickie’s work deals with blurred memories and dreamy scenes, for example – they all celebrate and reflect the craft of painting.

“These are painter’s painters,” Hodgins said. “These are artists who are really positive about painting,”

Hodgins said that the Corner Gallery plans to grow and develop organically – engaging with the community through contemporary art.

“Potentially it will open up to have deeper conversations with the community and its history, and where it could be going,” he said.

Lebo said, “Haliburton is an arts community and deserves more art galleries. Lucas House is so beautiful, it needs to be open to the public and we thought this was the best way to honour its history and add to the value of Haliburton as a destination.”

To stay up to date about the gallery’s opening dates, and learn more about the artists visit cornergallery.ca.

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