Eco-art gallery opens in Wardsville
By the Chronicle, August 2009
Rick Sommer of Wardsvile has opened Made on Earth , the world s first environmentally friendly art gallery on Longwoods Road. The gallery includes a courtyard which is available for other artists to use to show off their own work. Above, Rick sits with one of his works of art entitled Earth, which like all his works, is made entirely of recycled materials. Earth is made of an old tabletop, a picture frame, a tripod, vacuum wire, and other material.
Rick Sommer has set out to make his art gallery and culture centre as environmentally friendly as possible. His art supplies are often whatever he finds at the dump. All his work is recycled. He paints on things including discarded tabletops and doors. His paintbrushes and even his paint is all gathered from what other people throw away. His paintings, carvings, crafts and other works are displayed across his yard at 2504 Longwoods Road, Wardsville. Starting next week, it will be open for people to browse and buy his art.
Sommer has been doing research into eco-friendly art for the last 15 years. He said he’s heard about other eco-art galleries, but some of them cut down trees to make room for themselves, or have some other non-environmentally friendly practices. His gallery, Made on Earth, should be the first to be eco-friendly on this high a level.
Made on Earth includes a courtyard which will be for other artists and vendors to display and sell their work. Vendors with original, homemade crafts, food and products may call Rick Sommer at 519-693-0904. Sommer hopes to have the vendors’ courtyard open by April 2010.
Sommer aims for his gallery to have a positive impact by giving local artists a space for their work, and also by drawing business people willing to invest in the community from the larger urban centres, such as Toronto.
“This isn’t about me or my artwork. It’s about rebuilding a community,” said Sommer. “What I’m trying to do is rebuild the community using recycled materials that are environmentally friendly… I want to find the original artists. There’s a lot of great artists out there, they just don’t know how to promote themselves.”
Sommer grew up in a log cabin in the wilderness of northern British Columbia. He said he was born an artist, and he’s kept it up all his life. When he was a kid he would make his own toys out of river clay.
As a young adult, Sommer joined the American Military and served two years in the 82nd airborne and three years in the Special Forces. After a honourable discharge, he moved to Toronto and decided to get back into artistry. At first he sold his art on the street, and he would later spend the next twenty years working in carpentry and landscaping for mansions. It was during this 20-year period that he would paint murals at the Dovercourt boys and girls club in Toronto. He said his painting activity had a way of drawing in kids from the streets.
“I realized that, silently, I can help people without them knowing. I decided I was going to find a place to sell my art work, do it professionally,” he said.
Sommer said he met Prince Charles during his time with Dovercourt, and the two had a conversation about the environment that helped prompt Sommer’s decision to do an eco-friendly art gallery.
“Prince Charles, when I met him in Toronto, he said the earth has less than 200 months, and it’s now down to 93 months before it’s too late to save the ecosystem,” said Sommer.
Sommer moved to his home on Longwoods Road with his wife May 2008.
Sommer works in art styles including painting, poetry, music, carving, martial arts and others. He’s also working on ‘fusion art’, art that includes different mediums rolled into one. Some fusion art is paintings with poems packaged along with them, but for some fusion art he tries to incorporate all five senses in art that is visual, is scented, and even includes an original recipe for taste.
“I want to go beyond the canvas on the wall. I want to put scents and music and poetry all in one art form,” said Sommer.