Acadians from all over the world gather every five years for the Congrès mondial acadien celebration. This year the official opening takes place in Abram-Village, Western PEI. La Palette Artist Cooperative Gallery wanted to mark the special occasion. With more than 8000 visitors expected in one day and throughout the summer, where could the large art panels, with the theme of l’Acadie du monde entier (Acadie of the world) be best displayed? Of course…bring the exhibition of their work to the streets of this proud, beautiful village.
Members asked for the cooperation of citizens on both sides of the street between the Evangeline school and the Village musical acadien to “host” the murals on their property from July to the end of September. The response was very positive. Even driving through the village in late May, I could feel the excitement growing. The paintings will be protected from the weather and the hosts will “watch over them” for the summer.
Sixteen celebrated artists are madly painting in preparation for the colourful showcase of l’Acadie. On the day I visited the Gallery, Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry brought several friends with her from Charlottetown to join the artists and lend a painting hand. “This is such a great project,” said Madame Perry. While the group claimed to be good only at “paint by numbers,” after a few pointers they were well on their way to creating another piece of l’Acadie history.
In 2005, Abram-Village resident, Theodore Theriault along with his wife, were in Normandy (France), at the village of St. Aubin for a photography exhibition their son was taking part in. The village was honouring the North Shore Regiment (based in Bathurst, NB), made up of soldiers from the Acadie Peninsula, for liberating their village. It was a street festival of photographs and paintings depicting memories of that day of final freedom. “It was so moving. We did not know what to expect. I was very emotional,” said Mr. Theriault. And so, in his mind, the idea for the village paintings was born. He may have birthed the idea, but the enthusiasm and pride of not only the artists, but of the entire community, continues to drive the growth of this painting exhibition.
Only a short drive from Summerside, the art panels will be on display July 1 until September 31.