Group of Stephen Returns
Eclectic Group Planning Art Show
By Pat Forrest
Adiverse group of painters with a wide range of styles and a variety of professions and backgrounds will host their first exhibit in three years at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery from March 24 to April 23. The Group of Stephen, as they refer to themselves, is comprised of several full-time artists, two teachers, a nowretired coroner, a co-owner of an interior design company, a nurse researcher, a botanist and horticulturist, a plumbing business owner, the chair of the psychology department at Lakehead University, and a self-described “retired donothing dog walker.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, these artists and their mentor, award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, and artist Stephen J. Krasemann, were all set to begin their 13th year of painting together at Confederation College with the goal of showing what they had produced to the public. Unable to showcase their works during the pandemic, they’re now all thrilled to be back. It all began in 2009 when Krasemann started teaching an oil painting course to 10 people at Confederation College. The course evolved and has grown into a 12-person painting session. It’s the only art course still hosted by Confederation College and it’s one with a waitlist. Some of the 12 artists have been painting with the class since its beginning. In 2017, the Baggage Building Arts Centre at the waterfront invited the artists to put together an exhibition. The group was tasked with coming up with a name for the exhibit and Brenda Hurley, one of the artists, suggested the name The Group of Stephen. The former coroner for Thunder Bay, David Legge, enjoyed painting when he was younger but stopped for about 30 years, only to take it up again a few years ago. Since then, he has become friends with the group members, likening them to congenial members of the family. He says his art is inspired by his love of travel and of the freedom of being in wide-open spaces. Theresa Czank Russell is a relative newcomer to the group, but she says she is already seeing her artistic talent grow thanks to Krasemann’s guidance and the input of her fellow painters. For the upcoming exhibit, she’ll be showing some of her works that are focused on colourful skies. Czank Russell also puts her creativity to good use at Dusk to Dawn Interiors, where she is a co-owner. There will be an opening reception with the artists on hand on March 31 from 7–9 pm. Gallery admission is $5 or pay what you can, and free on Wednesdays. For more information, visit theag.ca.