CPAWS’ DRAW Art Retreat
July 26 – August 2
Artists have a long history with political activism. Enter the DRAW, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Ottawa Valley’s (CPAWS-OV’s) annual July-August art retreat, where artists rough-camp alongside the Dumoine River and interpret its fragile, magnificent beauty. Emerging to professional photographers, painters, potters, weavers, musicians, writers gather for a week of learning, storytelling around the campfire, and creating.
John McDonnell, Executive Director of CPAWS-OV, co-founded DRAW in 2017 with artist Aleta Karstad.
Here he explains DRAW – and invites artists to apply.
KF: Why protect the Dumoine?
JM: The Dumoine is the last truly wild river in southern Quebec. Think of the rivers you encounter in your daily life – they all have dams or other works, settlements, or significant industrial development. Dumoine’s watershed is home to iconic wildlife: moose, bear, lynx and others requiring vast ranges to survive. It’s home to species at risk, including the Algonquin/Eastern wolf. Although the watershed was logged, the lack of recent industrial-scale logging means that large swathes of the watershed are mature forests. To halt and reverse the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change, we must preserve conservation areas where nature is left to evolve without human interference.
The Dumoine is well known as one of Canada’s best white-water rivers. Now CPAWS-OV is proud to partner with Friends of Dumoine and others to restore a historic wagon road into a hiking trail connecting Grande Chute to the Ottawa River. It will open other opportunities for people to discover the watershed, while contributing to the local Pontiac economy.
KF: Why involve artists?
JM: DRAW is much more than a fundraiser for CPAWS-OV, it’s all about engagement. Artists are uniquely qualified to see the landscape and to communicate the power and the fragility of the Dumoine.
Art transcends demographics and organizations, reaching people who may otherwise not engage with conservation. Art builds bridges between the conservation community and others – including industry.
KF: Connectivity is DRAW’s theme in 2022?
JM: Connectivity recognizes the terrestrial connections required to support the movement of species in an era of climate change. It also signifies connecting the public to nature – a connectivity needed more than ever as we grapple with biodiversity loss, climate change, and Covid.
A protected area does exist, encompassing about one third of the Dumoine watershed, linking the Ottawa Valley and northern Boreal forests.
Now CPAWS-OV’s “Dumoine focus” is securing protection for the 18-km gap between Algonquin Park and the Dumoine River. Achieving this will provide even greater connectivity and further enable species to migrate across the landscape. (Algonquin itself is part of a connectivity program called Algonquin to Adirondacks – an initiative enabling species’ connections between these two great parks.)
KF: What happens at DRAW?
JM: Artists receive a week’s immersion in nature! The campsite has no electricity, no running water (outhouses), no cellular coverage or internet access. Artists unplug, recharge and focus on creativity. Days are deliberately unstructured: while hikes and excursions are offered, individuals can self-organize. Each artist must contribute financially to the camp (about $200 per person for food, propane, etc.) and donate one ready-to-display artwork to CPAWS-OV for fundraising.
KF: Please explain logistics
JM: CPAWS-OV manages logistics. We coordinate transportation, including carpooling to Rapides-des-Joachims from the Pontiac and Ottawa-Gatineau.
KF: How do artists apply?
JM: June 6 is the deadline. Visit cpaws-ov-vo.org for the application process and questionnaire.
KF: From May 14-June 12 there’s the DRAW artists’ exhibition at Valley Artists’ Co-op in Deep River?
JM: DRAW artwork is available for purchase with proceeds supporting the work of CPAWS-OV to protect the Dumoine, Noire and Coulonge watersheds. Meet the artists on May 14, see demonstrations and learn more about CPAWS-OV’s work creating a hiking trail alongside the Dumoine.
Katharine and Eric Fletcher will return to
the DRAW this summer. Contact her: fletcher.
firstname.lastname@example.org; view her art: facebook.com/KatharineFletcherArtist/