Executive director Jacqueline Pantel in front of THAA’s building.
IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO MISS two landmarks in Holland when driving west from Winnipeg along the Red Coat Trail. There’s the Holland Windmill (made by locals) and the massive brick McFeetors Centre, home to the Tiger Hills Arts Association (also known as THAA).
“A lot of times, tourists will be driving along, see our building with our big ‘ARTS’ banner and double back around to see what we’re all about,” says Jacqueline Pantel, executive director of the association.
Now in its 45th year, THAA serves as a hub for seven rural municipalities, reflecting the region’s vibrant cultural diversity, which includes Indigenous, francophone and Hutterite communities. Exhibits highlight both emerging and professional Canadian artists working in all media, from watercolour and acrylic paintings to textile art, and the association offers workshops, concerts, music lessons and literary events. All of this is made possible, thanks to a large group of volunteers. “They truly are the heart of the organization,” notes Pantel.
Most of the exhibits and workshops pay tribute to the artisans of the Prairies. The quilters and woodcarvers keep alive traditional crafts that have been passed down through generations, and many of the paintings explore and showcase the beauty of the Prairies.
While the initial COVID lockdown caused a momentary panic, as the association navigated the challenges of shifting its programming online, it opened up the centre’s offerings to a whole new audience. “It was really scary at first to have to shut down our space,” recalls Pantel, “but once we got our digital workshops up and running, it was so great to see people from Toronto and the East Coast signing up.”
Pantel doesn’t just curate all of the centre’s exhibits; she also keeps the gift boutique well stocked with goods handmade by Manitoban artisans—from fish hooks and pottery to quilts and 3-D-printed toys. “I used to be reaching out and researching to find new artists. But we’ve reached the point now that artisans are contacting us. It’s wonderful. It means people are really getting to know we’re here.”
This summer, visitors will have the opportunity to view the work of various mixed-media artists, including many quilters. The workshop schedule hasn’t been finalized yet, but stay tuned for the chance to learn a wide range of arts, from glass mosaic and stained glass to crochet, calligraphy and Paverpol sculpture.
Visit tigerhillsarts.com or the group’s Facebook page to learn more.
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