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September 21, 2013

Oshawa’s downtown core is invaded by artists. The inaugural Oshawa Space Invaders (OSI) saw huge crowds for yesterday’s ARTCRAWL. Hundreds of visitors came through selected spaces replete with visual art and home-grown studio production cultivated in Durham Region. Well over a hundred artists are featured in vacant commercial spaces and storefronts in downtown. OSI covers the full range of artistic involvement as only a community event can. The event embraces established artists, professional designers, arts enthusiasts, collectives, college and high school students.

Professor McQuay with  Silver Elvis

Professor McQuay with Silver Elvis

Hats off to Steven Frank, Gary Greenwood and Will McGuirk for their visionary leadership. The trio was supported by a committed team of enthusiastic volunteers and like-minded community players and artists.

The Schembris and I

The Schembris and I

Yesterday was a real homecoming. Lives converged, trails crossed. Juno Award winning bluesman, Jack de Keyzer rocked the stage and Silver Elvis mingled around his scintilating space craft. What a terrific verve–the Invasion lasts for another week. Share your experiences and comments below…

Garfield Ferguson and Me

Garfield Ferguson and Me

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September 6, 2013

There’s a special feeling of anticipation right before an issue of Surfacing Magazine comes out. If you follow arts and culture in the Durham Region, you’ll know what I mean. We’ve had this feeling for the sixteenth time as we came up to the 5th year anniversary issue, which came out yesterday. Surfacing became woven into the fabric of our lives in Durham. It became a tangible record; a beacon of renewed enthusiasm around the arts in the region.

With the 5th year anniversary issue comes the news that this is Surfacing’s last. Publishing duo, Dave and Laura Schembri round-out an incredible half decade run. And what a ride it’s been! The launch at Station Gallery, the record-breaking “Off the Pages” exhibition exactly a year ago, the DACTA nomination, reading insightful articles and creative writing, engaging a plethora of visual experiences….

Laura and Dave uncovered hidden talent in our community and celebrated friends we know so very well. Personally speaking, they’ve expanded my worldview to include poetry, music, performance… and a renewed vision of the visual arts in the region.

Dave and Laura are extraordinary professionals: considered, exact, genuine, opened, soulful. They infuse a grace with everything they touch. Now based in Aurora, The Schembris continue to be ex-pat champions of the Durham Region art scene. They’ve made an indelible mark and ever-lasting presence with Surfacing. Congratulations on your anniversary issue! Thank you for sharing the view through your periscope…

Dave, Laura and Me at Surfacing show opening.

Dave, Laura and Me at Surfacing show opening.

February 12, 2010

It was well worth the wait—Aurora now has a premiere multi-purpose cultural hub it can be proud of. At the tail-end of January the Aurora Cultural Centre opened with an inaugural exhibition and open house. There was a lion’s share of things to see and do: umbrella painting, a grand piano performance, a historical show about the Prohibition and, of course the highlight, Ann Mortimer’s fine crafted ceramic umbrellas. All of this activity was contained in the re-conditioned  architecture of a historic school built in 1885. Wandering through the building was a real treat—evocative of the by-gone days of lessons and learning. The new architects strategically chose elements which need updating and those that elicited a nostalgic energy.  The choice to keep the original blackboard gave chills down my spine. Behind plexi-glass were chalk markings and indicia from past pedagogues.  

Historic Blackboard


Laura Schembri the incoming Executive Director of the Centre has demonstrated her commitment to the arts for many years now. Aurora, Get Ready for Laura! Ms Schembri brings verve and positive energy to people around her. We here in Durham know it first-hand. Laura served on Station Gallery’s Board of Directors, worked as an arts administrator in Oshawa and, along with her husband David, initiated a very successful arts and culture periodical in Durham Region called Surfacing Magazine. Although we really miss Dave and Laura, I can’t wait to see the bridges that will form between our two communities.