Summertime art is the bee’s knees

Saturday, August 23 was a great day to instill summer spirit as the season comes to a close. Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was one of the most unique accessible programs to date at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Classic tactile art activities were produced, but something new was added to the mix: an interactive presentation with a beekeeper.

Toronto-based beekeeper Jared Taylor was our guest program facilitator. Jared and his wife, Melanie, manage bees and produce their own honey right outside of Kleinburg. This year, the McMichael acquired bee boxes to produce local honey. Jared manages the bees, which currently live on the surrounding gallery grounds within the Humber River Valley.  Jared led an educational presentation for the participants, discussing how bees produce honey, different hierarchies of the nest and the tools used to manage the black and yellow critters as they create liquid gold.

Everyone had an opportunity to try a slice (or two!) of sticky sweet honey, right off the honeycomb. Jared’s beekeeper suit and mask added a fun spin to traditional dress up activities, while he informed the group about the use of a bee smoker and why it is a useful contraption to calm bees in the honey-collecting process.

Following the presentation, the group moved inside to produce multimedia art projects. Honeycomb Creations were the first activity, using textured candle wax in different colours to decorate a rock or flower pot. Rocks were transformed into bees, mice and other cute critters. Intricate shapes and designs added character to each insect.

The group also worked on watercolour paintings inspired by the McMichael landscape and summertime blooms. Drawings were sketched onto craft paper with colourful ink markers before artists used a sponge paintbrush to blur lines and shapes with water, adding an abstract feel.

Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was a full house and great way to end summer programs at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

We look forward to another afternoon of accessible and inclusive art making at Adventure of a Maple Leaf on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

To register, please visit the McMichael website.

Members of Autism Ontario are free. Please provide your Autism Ontario membership number at time of booking. Attendants do not pay.


The Art of Inclusion: A Guide – the McMichael Canadian Art Collection makes accessible initiatives sustainable

It has been over two years since the McMichael Canadian Art Collection launched their prestigious EnAbling Change Project with support from the Government of Ontario. Two years of testing the waters with programs designed for people living with various special needs and exceptionalities. Programs for people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Programs for people that visit the Collection for its unique atmosphere that merges art and nature. Programs that offer a different method of feeling like you belong. Programs that teach us the true meaning of “inclusion” and how it can be achieved through creative practices.

With all of this in consideration, it is my great pleasure to share with you The Art of Inclusion: A Guide – Seven Steps to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations.

This publication is the result of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s EnAbling Change project with the Government of Ontario, and outlines a seven-step process (a nod to the Group of Seven painters) for the successful design and delivery of accessible programs.

The Art of Inclusion: A Guide - Seven Steps to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations

The Art of Inclusion: A Guide – Seven Steps to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations – click the image to be redirected to the guide.


The goal of the publication is to provide a guide that will assist other arts and culture organizations in developing and implementing their own accessible initiatives, and to demonstrate the overall benefits of engaging visitors through specialized programs.

With the invaluable support of partner organizations, service providers, and industry contacts, the McMichael gained a wealth of knowledge that has allowed the gallery to offer a variety of programs to individuals with disabilities. Now, we wish to share what we have learned with others.

By offering these guidelines, the McMichael hopes that other organizations will follow the seven steps and ultimately create a more engaging and participatory cultural setting for individuals with special needs.

The guide is available to download online at:

We encourage you to spread the word about our accessible guide!

With enthusiasm,

Ola Mazzuca
Project Coordinator, Enabling Change
McMichael Canadian Art Collection


Make 2014 a mosaic of creativity

How will you inaugurate the New Year?

If you are pining for creative expression and starting things off on a positive note, check out Canadian Mosaic on Thursday, January 2 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

This event marks our second installment of ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programs and we want to celebrate it with you. At Canadian Mosaic, you’ll visit the gallery to explore our vast collection of Canadian art, both classic and contemporary. At the studio, various mosaic techniques will be taught, inspiring you to apply the surrounding winter landscape and McMichael collection to your work.

Let’s make the New Year positive by building it piece by piece at Canadian Mosaic!

Register early – spots fill quickly!

Visit the program page for cost and registration information.


The artistic side of autumn

Don’t you just love the crisp crunch sound of yellow, red and orange leaves beneath your feet? What about the cones that fall from huge pine trees, each unique like a snowflake, but a season early? Or maybe it’s that fresh smell in the air, clean and cool.

Is there a word to describe all of this at once?
Yes – it’s Fall – an inspiring season of natural aesthetic and transformational change.

Fall at the McMichael is an extraordinary experience. Whether you’re entering through the main entrance or walking on the Humber River Trails, the spirit of the Group is Seven is present and guaranteed to excite your senses.

That’s what participants of Explore Autumn encountered on Saturday, October 19.
The fall installment of our ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programming was a full house.  New and familiar faces gathered inside the Pine Cottage art studio to dive into three different hands-on art activities:

  • Watercolour leaf rubbings: made by tracing the shape of oak, maple and birch leaves in various shapes and colours with an accessible chopstick tool. The veins of each leaf were sketched to add texture before participants added a layer of colour and a spray of water before “stamping” the shape on craft paper.
  • Vibrant watercolour marker paintings: Participants painted nature scenes on a texturized burlap canvas by using smooth markers in vibrant hues.
  • Clay scenes and sculptures: The ultimate tactile activity! By choosing from a vast palette, participants molded clay into animals or produced pictures inspired by surroundings and everyday life.

The fourth component to Explore Autumn included a sample of our Woodland Inspired® iPad Program. Participants were free to let their skills do the painting on applications that include:

  • Art Rage
  • Brushes
  • Sumo Paint

Each application offers the choice of several tools, shapes, stamps and colours. You can change the density of the mark your paintbrush makes or the texture of a pencil. Perhaps you wish to add a flower to your image – there’s a tool for that!

Parents joined to produce their own masterpieces.
Artists also sent their work as an email attachment directly from the application.

Check out the gallery below to see our iPad activity in action:

In the new year, we’ll host our next program, Canadian Mosaic, where we’ll learn about mosaic techniques, piece by piece.

We hope to see you at our winter program!
For now, enjoy autumn before the snow falls.

Art excites memories at the McMichael

“Memory is a great artist. For every man and for every woman it makes the recollection of his or her life a work of art and an unfaithful record.” – Andre Maurois

Courtesy of Chris Helgren/REUTERS, The Globe and Mail.

Courtesy of Chris Helgren/REUTERS, The Globe and Mail.

On Saturday, July 20, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is offering its first accessible program for seniors.

Summertime Down Memory Lane Walking Tour is designed for seniors living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of memory loss. This interactive program excercises the brain to inspire emotion, creativity and expression in every brush stroke and drop of acrylic paint. By experiencing Canadian works of art from the Group of Seven, Inuit pieces and today’s contemporary visionaries, participants will reconnect with their past through interpretation and nostalgia.

A McMichael program leader will engage participants in guided conversation throughout select galleries. Participants requiring assistance must be accompanied by an attendant.

Program included with gallery admission.

Registration is required.
Fore more details, visit the McMichael website.

Land Connections Exhibition A Success!

What if you never knew your child could create such beautiful art? What if you have never seen your kids participate in painting, sculpting and designing? What if your first time witnessing their talent in the raw was at a nationally-renowned art gallery in the heart of historic Kleinburg?

 IMG_3505  IMG_3509


Some masterpieces were displayed in a glass case.

That’s what many parents experienced at our special exhibition opening of Land Connections. On Sunday, February 17, artists from Connect, our City of Vaughan partnership program, viewed their pieces on display inside Founder’s Lounge. The paintings inspired by A.Y. Jackson’s Bent Pine glowed underneath spotlights that shone on every stroke of acrylic paint, piece of clay and leaf applique.

(from left to right) art instructor Anna Pallotta with City of Vaughan staff Vanessa L. and Vanessa A. with artist Alexander Miceli

(from left to right) art instructor Anna Pallotta with City of Vaughan staff Vanessa L. and Vanessa A. with artist Alexander Miceli

 IMG_3506Family members, friends and support workers were astonished at the works, moving around every corner of the room until every multimedia piece was viewed. Some stopped to look at the artworks, pondering and examining every earthy colour and intricate technique – just like they would at our previous exhibition, Painting Canada.

A digital media team from the Ministry of Community and Social Services were also present, as they filmed a very special segment for the AccessON YouTube series, Accessibility in Ontario.

Keep your eyes and ears out for the McMichael on the AccessON channel, where Connect artists Hazel and Sabrina will share some insight on their masterpieces and the power of accessible art.

McMichael adventures with the maple leaf

March break is always a special time at the McMichael, and a busy one, too.
That’s why they call it “March Break Madness,” after all!

This year, we offered our very first accessible art program, Canadian Maple Leaf Adventure, to conclude a busy week with some creatively quiet family time. On Saturday, March 16th, art instructor Anna Pallotta led five families on an adventure inspired by Canadian landscape and the lush greenery within it.

The program began with pencil sketches at Pine Cottage, where Anna showed the group how to do shading techniques overtop images of birch and maple trees. Following the warm-up activity, the group went on an exciting walk throughout the front entrance of the grounds. Anna distributed photographs she took of the McMichael landscape to each participant to scout out the exact location of each image. The scavenger hunt was a great way to explore the grounds and witness their reflection on the definitive Canadian work inside the gallery – the next destination.


Inside gallery one exploring the Group of Seven

As families gathered inside the Grand Hall, took of their coats, hats and mitts, Anna guided them throughout the gallery’s many Group of Seven exhibits. She engaged each participant with insightful questions, and everyone was able to make strong correlations between the works and personal experiences.


Anna discussing the Group of Seven’s siganture painting techniques



Later, the group wound down with the viewing of The West Wind, a film montage depicting a “day-in-the-life” of artists like Tom Thomson and A.Y. Jackson.

Anna accompanied the film with an even
more natural soundtrack
– a music compilationwestwinddvd from National Parks of Canada,
entitled the National Parks Project.  

It is a beautifully organic album comprised of 39 musicians dispered across 13 national parks. The groups spent five days in destinations that include the Bruce Peninsula, Cape Breton and Kluane. It’s a wonderful way to “capture the majesty of landcape through music and image.”


The best part about the McMichael is that we don’t need to travel to any of those three parks – we have majestic art and nature at our fingertips! And it’s all accessible, too.


Hope to see you at our next family art program!