The Walden Art Club had its inception in the basement of St. Pius Church in Lively as the Lively Art Club, when, on April 16 ,1970 educator Margo Oliver met with five other local artists. Margo, now an honorary member of the Club, along with Dennis Pigeon, Eileen Tuttle, Lotte Pulka, Marie McGinn and Audrey Hickey discussed promotion of the arts in the small INCO (International Nickel Company) town of Lively as they met weekly to work on their own artistic expressions. It was an opportunity for anyone wishing to explore his/her creative activity to meet in a supportive working atmosphere.
A period of struggle which lasted twelve years followed. Margo Oliver was president on six different occasions during this stage of development and noted the difficulty of introducing art to a community which favoured other activities. Although the local council was supportive to some degree, the members gathered at nine different locations during this early time. One guest artist who showed support and encouragement to the Club members at that time was Ivan Wheale, well-known Manitoulin artist.
After the formation of the Regional Municipality of Sudbury the name was amended to include the name of the newly formed town of Walden as the Lively-Walden Art Club. Over the ensuing years, the Lively-Walden Art Club met in various places including the auditorium of the Ben Moxam Community Centre. In 1994 Club President Ellen Gorecki applied for a room on the upper level of the Centre, and this was granted by then-mayor Terry Kett. The group at that time consisted of twenty-four members.
A Quarter Century Later
1995 was a significant year in the life of the Club as it marked the 25th Anniversary. A special show was held that year at the popular Anderson Farm and Museum, in which farm and country living, which preceded the building of the model mining town, was celebrated. Many of the paintings were of Anderson Farm itself and each piece reflected some aspect of rural life around Walden. A donated painting by long-time member, Marianne Lepsin, still sits atop of the old piano in the museum. At that time Ellen Gorecki, Club President, expressed her appreciation for the work of the artists both in their artistic endeavours and also in the renovation of the top floor of the old Creighton log building on Anderson Farm. She noted with pride that the club had remained vital for a quarter century.
In 1995, as well, a “partnership” with Lively District Secondary was formed in order to foster the arts with secondary students. A further name change took place in the 1990s to drop the Lively portion of the name as town of Lively is a part of the town of Walden and was therefore redundant.
Community Support and Community Spirit
The Club has remained a dynamic force in the community up to and including the present. For many years artists displayed artworks at the Creighton Mine Credit Union and at the Lively Mumford Public library now the Lively Citizens Service Centre and library. Over the years the Art Club donated many art books to the library as well.
Members participated generously in community fund-raisers promoting awareness of many issues and supporting worthwhile programs in the community. A few examples include: Walden Seniors Complex, Nickel District Conservation Foundation, Kinsman House draw, art therapy in hospitals, studio tours, and the Walden Winter Carnival.
The Mosaic Mural
One project the WAC completed was this mural of the barn at the Anderson Farm. Consisting of 35 individually painted canvases, the mural depicted scenes of local activities and renderings of the landscape. When done, the mural was donated to the Anderson Farm Museum Heritage Society.