‘Sometimes, a photo can capture what a painting can’t, but other times a painting can creatively bring a photograph to life in ways that are just fantastic,’ says artist
The Steel Spirit art gallery is back in the Barrie City Hall Rotunda and showcases the works of first-responders as well as military personnel, both serving or retired.
The gallery has been around since 2017 and has steadily grown since then, only scaling back last year due to the pandemic.
Brian Lintner, who is a former military police officer and a contributor to the gallery, says he contributed a piece to the first gallery exhibition and has since seen it move on to another place.
“A buddy of mine said I should put a piece in, but I felt like I didn’t know enough about art to do so,” Lintner told BarrieToday during the gallery installation Friday morning. “I’m glad I did; it actually became a wonderful centrepiece and has gone to another place permanently. I thought, ‘wow, there is some value to what I am painting,’ but I didn’t look at it that way because I was only doing it for cathartic reasons.”
Since 2017, The Steel Spirit has not only provided art galleries. It has also provided art donations to the nearby military base health clinic and promoted charities. It has also organized social events that benefit the artists, receptions for the community, and even an art social at the local nursing home involving resident veterans doing artwork with current military personnel.
The Steel Spirit returned to Barrie the following year and again in 2019, where it had tripled in size from its first year. It also had its first gallery in Nova Scotia in 2019.
Lintner says he enjoys creating art and while some pieces are done “just because,” some catch his eye and he really wants to put them to canvas.
“I have a lifelong friend in Barrie who is a photographer. It’s a hobby to him and he’s quite good. I see his photos and some really draw my attention to where I want to paint them,” Lintner said. “Sometimes, a photo can capture what a painting can’t, but other times a painting can creatively bring a photograph to life in ways that are just fantastic.”
One of the paintings Lintner has on display is of a photo his friend took of the Muddy Water Hotel in Beeton.
“The Muddy is a restaurant and bar at 25 Main St., in Beeton. You think of any 25 Main St., bar in Canada, I mean how special can it be in a photo? But it just looks magical and I had to paint it,” Lintner said. “Now, I added things in my painting that don’t exist in his photo and that’s how I was able to tell my story.”
Since 2020, The Steel Spirit has focused more on growing their digital platform of recognition of artists from the different services.
It was registered as a business in 2018, but the organization essentially runs like a charity with no profits to date and it relies on sponsorship to cover costs for things such as gallery supplies (frames, bio prints, hanging supplies), receptions (food and plaques for the artists), and administrative expenses (website, mailbox, etc.).
The Steel Spirit continues to encourage artists from the services to become involved, especially now that geography is not a limiting factor in the online initiative.
The Steel Spirit is free for all artists involved with the goal being to encourage more individuals from the services to become involved and share their stories.
For more, check out the website here.